I’m a self-taught gardener. And although I’ve watched countless YouTube videos, nothing compares to a great book.

Honestly, my thriving garden is a testament to each book I’ve read.

With each read, I’ve grown my gardening expertise. And now I find myself IDing plants with ease and getting asked for gardening advice.

Which books do I recommend? These are some of my favorite gardening books for beginners. Each one has taught me something new and revealed interesting insights about gardening.

Sure, you can learn a lot from YouTube. But there’s something about a book that connects you to this hobby. If you’re new to gardening, or you’re interested in giving it a go, try these helpful books for beginner gardeners. I’ve read all of them and guarantee they’ll help you level up and learn new backyard gardening tricks.

Vegetable Gardening Books for Beginners

best vegetable gardening books

Ready to grow your own food? Start with these helpful veggie gardening books. From general overviews, to in-depth looks at popular gardening techniques, these books will turn your brown thumb green. Here are some of the best books on vegetable gardening:

1. Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook (2019)

Let’s start with a classic from Old Farmer’s Almanac. If you’re completely new to gardening, start with this title. The Handbook provides an intro to growing seasons and soil science. Plus, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on growing the most popular garden veggies.

Another thing I love about this book: There’s diary pages. Every new gardener should record results year-after-year. This will help you get better faster.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Raised-bed gardening tips
  • Seed-starting tips
  • Frost tables for North America

2. Organic Gardening for Beginners (2021)

For those wanting an eco-friendly approach, refer to Lisa Lombardo’s Organic Gardening. This book breaks down helpful concepts and makes them easy to consume.

When I started gardening, this book helped me solve a cabbage worm problem. Cabbage worms kept mowing down my broccoli and cabbage plants. This book helped me choose better companion plants and natural control methods that fixed the problem.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Natural soil enrichment techniques
  • Garden set-up and what to grow
  • Organic pest control

3. Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (2009)

Since its original publish date in 2009, Ed Smith’s Gardener’s Bible has sold more than 500,000 copies. And it teaches a specific method of raised-bed gardening – the WORD System. That stands for wide rows, organic methods, raised beds, and deep soil. And Smith does a masterful job of making the system easy to implement.

The plant profiles in this book are most useful for beginners. The book covers more than 70 popular varieties, providing helpful planting, tending, and harvesting tips for each.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Composting tips and how-tos
  • Plant profiles for most popular garden plants
  • Roadmap for starting a garden

4. Don’t Throw in the Trowel (2016)

Many beginning gardeners get scared that they’ll kill plants. They label themselves a “brown thumb,” and that’s that. I love how Rosefiend Cordell’s Don’t Throw in the Trowel shows us our natural gardening instincts.

Whereas the Gardener’s Bible is a massive reference, this book is more encouraging. And it plots out a month-by-month process for growing a vegetable garden.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Monthly gardening task lists
  • Midwest gardening tips
  • Mulching and organic fertilization how-tos

5. Week-by-Week Gardener’s Handbook (2011)

Beginning gardeners struggle with getting the timing right. They’re unsure of when to start seeds indoors or dig compost into raised beds. And Ron and Jennifer Kujawski’s Week-by-Week completely takes the guesswork out it.

Essentially, this book plans out the entire year for gardeners. Just find your average last frost day. And the book provides insights and advice on what to do every week, based on that date. The spiral-bound book also includes plenty of blank space so you can monitor your progress throughout the year.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Weekly garden task lists
  • Custom garden journal based on your gardening zone
  • Helpful soil and plant science lessons throughout

6. Vegetable Gardening for Beginners (2020)

Author Jill McSheehy calls this a “Simple Guide” and that’s what I loved about it. When I first started, this guide helped me plan an easy garden and care for it from spring through summer. Many gardening references include a lot of information. But this one strips it down to the most useful tricks and tips for beginning gardeners.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Helpful quick-start tips
  • Solid overview of vegetable gardening
  • Advice for every step (planning, building, planting, maintaining)

More Vegetable Gardening Books

Here are some additional reference books for beginners covering various gardening techniques:

  • Raised-Bed Gardening for Beginners ­– Simple gardening guide to growing in small spaces.
  • Weedless Gardening – Spend less time weeding with the techniques in this book.
  • The Autopilot Garden – Make gardening easier with this guide from my favorite YouTuber.
  • Companion Planting for Beginners ­­– The best resource on companion planting you’ll find.

Flower Gardening Books for Beginners

best books on flower gardening

Are you more interested in gardening flowers? Check out these reference books for helpful tips and flower garden inspiration:

7. Flower Gardener’s Bible (2003)

I picked up this book at a rummage sale, and it’s now a go-to for planning advice every spring. The Flower Gardener’s Bible is one of the best resources. It features in-depth info on which flowers to grow, how to layout a flower garden, and growing annuals from seed. This is hands-down the best book on the subject.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Guides for 400 favorite flowers
  • Illustrated design guides
  • All-season flower garden tips

8. The Complete Gardener (2021)

Monty Don’s Complete Gardener is one of many favorite gardening books by the author. However, this is Don’s most detailed guide, with practical tips for creating and caring for different types of gardens. What sets this book apart: Don’s passion for gardening shines through on every page.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Examples from the author’s own garden
  • Overviews of different garden designs and styles
  • Comprehensive, inspiring gardening advice

9. Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden (2017) 

Author Erin Benzakein shares insights from her own flower farm in Cut Flower Garden. Not only does it include tips for growing and maintaining a flower garden. But it’s also a help premier on arranging flowers as well. This is a complete resource that every aspiring flower gardener should own.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Step-by-step guides to cut-flower arrangements
  • Illustrated growing guides for various flowers
  • Help advice for propagating flowers

More Flower Gardening Books

Here are some additional references for beginner flower gardening techniques:

  • The Flower Farmer – An illustrated guide to growing and selling cut flowers.
  • Growing Flowers – A complete guide covering growing and arranging cut flowers.
  • Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs – A great planning resource that covers more than 350 varieties.
  • Vegetables Love Flowers ­– The ultimate guide to companion planting with flowers and vegetables.

Other Great Books for New Gardeners

best gardening books

Here are some other good gardening books that explore the odds and ins of gardening:

10. Organic Book of Compost (2020)

Let’s face it. Composting is complex. But the Book of Compost makes the subject easy to grasp. Readers will learn how to create compost and helpful composting techniques to try.

Not only does Pauline Pears’ reference provide a good overview of composting. It also greatly simplifies how to use compost in the garden.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Tips for setting up kitchen compost bins
  • Guides to composting dos and don’ts
  • Advice for getting your compost heap hot

11. How to Not Kill Your Houseplant (2017)

Stay engaged with gardening through the winter with a houseplant garden. Author Veronica Peerless gives you everything you need in this book. You’ll get advice on watering and feeding indoor plants, as well as techniques for solving many issues (like yellowing leaves and disease).

With indoor gardening, there are new techniques you’ll need to learn. For me, the hardest to understand was humidity, and this guide made that easy to grasp.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Care tips for 50+ popular houseplants
  • Advice for curing sick plants
  • Lighting, watering, and feeding advice

12. 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants (2011)

When I first started gardening, a neighbor gave me this advice:

Plant a row for your neighbor, a row for yourself, and a row for the deer. If deer love your garden just as much as you, take a look at this book.

Ruth Clausen suggests the most beautiful plants you can grow and that deer won’t eat. You’ll find lists and growing guides for herbs, annuals, perennials, grasses, and more. This is a helpful resource if the deer won’t stop eating your plants.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Types of plants to grow (that deer won’t touch)
  • Garden deer-proofing ideas
  • Design tips and growing tips for most popular plants

13. Starting Seeds

As a beginner, gardening can seem expensive. Starting plants from seed is a great way to save money. And Starting Seeds by Barbara Ellis is the go-to guide for it.

Learn what supplies you’ll need, how to get set-up, and tips for managing your indoor plants. This book will make you a seed-starting expert.

What you’ll find in this book:

  • Seed starting supplies lists (including DIY options)
  • Seed germination troubleshooting tips
  • Outdoor seed-sowing tips

More Gardening Reference Books

Here are some additional reference books for beginners that cover composting, house plants and more:

  • The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control – A practical guide to solving the most common issues.
  • Not Another Jungle – Another great reference on growing and caring for houseplants.
  • Spring Rain: A Life Lived in Gardens – An inspiring gardening memoir that’s full of inspiration.
  • Let It Rot – A classic gardening book on composting.

Wrapping Up

You don’t have to read all of the books on this list to become a green thumb. We learn gardening through experience. The more you practice and experiment, the better you’ll get. But reading these books may help you cut down on failure and provide inspiration.

Not to mention, reading is one of the best ways to pass the winter months, when our gardens might be buried under a couple of inches of snow. Think I missed a book? Let us know what you’re reading. And for all your growing supplies, visit a Homegrown Outlet location near you.

Matthew Davis

Matt writes about gardening for Homegrown Outlet. An experienced home gardener, Matt spends his summers tending to a backyard raised-bed garden, where he tests new pepper varieties each season. His gardening interests include composting, garden design, and heirloom veggies.

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