The Best Vegetable Gardening Books for Busy Gardeners

Cheryl Spencer from Simply Smart Gardening
Inside: The best vegetable gardening books.

Picture this. You decide to find out more about growing your own food. So, you sit down at your computer, head over to Amazon, and type in “vegetable gardening books.”

As the results load, you close your eyes and sigh.

There are too many books to choose from!

You think to yourself, “I don’t really want to read through hundreds of reviews to find the right book. Can’t someone just tell me what the best book is?”

Luckily, since you’ve landed here (instead of Amazon), you won’t have to scroll through countless reviews, hope the books you ordered live up to the hype, or waste time dusting books you never use …

…Because I’m always on the lookout for the most helpful books.

  • The ones you reach for so often, they’re never on the bookshelf.
  • The ones that are well-loved because they’re filled with expert advice.
  • The ones with dirt-smudges on the most important pages.

And I’m excited to share them with you!

I own a lot of books about vegetable gardening, but all of them didn’t make it onto this list. The list below is the cream of the crop, the ones that have made me a better gardener.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase. I only link to products I use and recommend.
book on a table in a garden with a bowl of vegetables
The best book on how to grow vegetables is the one you use.

What is the best vegetable gardening book?

✅ My top pick, the book I consider the best book out of all the books on this list is The Vegetable Gardener's Bible. It’s an essential guide filled with expert advice and will help beginning and experienced gardeners grow an amazing edible garden.

If you could only have one book, this is the one to get!

What makes this list of books different?

I’ve read and used all the books on this list.

Plus, I have high standards for gardening books. There are plenty of so-so books out there, but you won’t find any here!

The top 3 vegetable gardening books every gardener should own

1. The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith

As I mentioned above, this is my top pick. And here’s why.

When you follow the author’s W.O.R.D. system (Wide rows, Organic methods, Raised beds, and Deep soil), you’ll cultivate deep, healthy soil. Soil that nourishes your plants and discourages pests and disease.

The result? Fewer weeds, healthy plants, and tons of delicious vegetables! Because, as all successful gardeners know, great gardens start with the soil. I recommend this book to everyone who wants solid advice about organic gardening. Because even after gardening for over 30 years, I still thumb through The Vegetable Gardener's Bible every season for tips and inspiration.

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, 2nd Edition: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions: Wide Rows, Organic Methods, Raised Beds, Deep Soil
Buy on Amazon

2. The Soul of the Soil by Joseph Smillie

The Soul of the Soil is for you if you want to understand your soil better and improve the growth and health of your garden.

The first half of the book explains soil science in clear, understandable language. And the second half is chock full of hands-on tips for building up the organic levels of your garden soil. It has many useful charts on creating quality compost, using green manures, understanding nutrient balances, and soil testing.

The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition
Buy on Amazon

3. What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? by David Deardorff

Diagnosing plant problems can be frustrating

Is it insects? Disease? Or a nutrient or cultural problem?

What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? will help you get to the root of the issue quickly and find solutions. It also includes photos of common problems, which makes identification easier. When your plant is in a pickle, this should be the first book you pick up!

It’s a perfect guide for beginners!

What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden?: 100% Organic Solutions for All Your Vegetables, from Artichokes to Zucchini (What’s Wrong Series)
Buy on Amazon

Related: The Best Books for Beginning Gardeners

The best books for growing year-round

Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman

If you’ve always assumed that you have to stop gardening during the winter months, get ready to have your mind blown! In the Four-Season Harvest, you’ll discover you can successfully grow a variety of vegetables over the winter using simple equipment like cold frames and plastic-covered tunnels (without supplementary heat).

You’ll get tips on choosing the best winter-hardy varieties and earth-friendly tips for making your winter season as productive as possible. Bonus: the handy planning charts will help you create your perfect planting schedule. These alone are worth the price of admission!

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long, 2nd Edition
Buy on Amazon

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke

With Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening by your side you can grow fresh nutrient-dense microgreens indoors at any time of the year (including winter!) with simple, inexpensive equipment.

The author is a busy professional who wanted to grow greens during the winter despite his busy schedule. So, he’s thoughtfully included instructions on what to do when your schedule goes haywire, and your indoor crops get neglected.

If you’ve tried growing sprouts in jars before and haven’t succeeded, this book is for you. Just follow the step-by-step instructions, and you’ll have your first crop of microgreens in less than 10 days!

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days
Buy on Amazon

The best books for small spaces

Here are three books that answer the question, “How do you grow vegetables in a small space?”

The Suburban Micro-Farm by Amy Stross

The Suburban Micro-Farm will help you turn your suburban lawn into a productive garden. With a friendly, relatable style, the author shows you step-by-step how to get a lot of vegetables out of a small space.

She lives on a tenth of an acre, so she knows all the tricks for cultivating a productive urban garden. And she tackles difficult situations like shady and sloped yards. You’ll learn simple techniques to create soil that’s full of life and harness rainfall rather than let it drain into city sewers. 

She profiles many types of vegetables and herbs and explains how to grow them. From selecting seeds to garden maintenance, watering, pest control, and harvesting, you’ll learn helpful strategies to create your own micro-farm, no matter how busy you are or small your lot is.

The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People
Buy on Amazon

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

The All New Square Foot Gardening shows you how to grow in square foot blocks of space instead of rows. Growing this way requires less thinning, weeding, and watering. And it’s the perfect way to get the most out of small space gardens.

You also get a lot of tips on growing vertically, which will help you save space.

Square foot gardens need just 20% of the space of a traditional garden. By creating a square or rectangular garden bed divided into grids, you’ll get more results with less work. When you get away from the mindset of planting in rows and embrace square foot gardening, you’ll be able to grow more in less space than you ever imagined!

All New Square Foot Gardening, 3rd Edition, Fully Updated: MORE Projects - NEW Solutions - GROW Vegetables Anywhere (All New Square Foot Gardening, 9)
Buy on Amazon

The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible by Edward C. Smith

Whether you lack the space for an in-ground garden or want to add pots to your deck, porch, or patio, The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible has you covered! This book is proof that everyone can grow some edibles, including apartment dwellers.

You’ll learn how to choose the right plants, select the best containers, care for your plants, and control pests organically. The author has included helpful plans for small-space container gardens – perfect for urban and suburban growers.

The last third of the book is a list of vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers with detailed descriptions and advice for how to grow them in containers. If you’re a novice gardener, container gardening is the perfect way to get started!

The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers
Buy on Amazon

The best vegetable gardening books for experienced gardeners

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening by Matt Mattus

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening will help you discover new, rare, or unusual varieties of common crops – all while learning about their fascinating history and their benefits.

Even if you’ve been growing for a while you’ll find at least a few new must-have edibles to grow in your own vegetable garden. From planting to picking and processing, this book covers it all step-by-step. So, you’ll know exactly how to grow your new finds.

As a bonus, It’s full of inspiring photos that’ll have you dreaming about how beautiful your next veg garden will look!

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening: Rare Varieties * Unusual Options * Plant Lore & Guidance
Buy on Amazon

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties by Carol Deppe

Becoming a plant breeder is deeply rewarding because it allows you to grow vegetables tailor made for your needs. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties shows you not only why you should breed your own varieties but how to go about it.

This is an excellent, easy to understand guide filled with many tips on saving seeds that’ll help you breed vegetables to meet your specific needs. Want a drought-resistant tomato that ripens early? This book, written by a Harvard plant geneticist, will help you get there!

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, 2nd Edition
Buy on Amazon

The best books on specific crops

The Melon by Amy Goldman

The Melon is a beautiful book filled with melon-y goodness. As at home on your coffee table as on your bookshelf, it’s filled with stunning photos, the latest research, and detailed descriptions of each melon.

You can almost taste the sticky, messy sweetness of each one. (If only it came in a scratch and sniff version!)

Inside you’ll find in-depth discussions of producing and picking your melons. She also includes helpful seed-saving tips. With many fascinating stories, histories, and anecdotes sprinkled throughout, it’s a hard book to put down and makes the perfect gift for melon enthusiasts!

The Melon
Buy on Amazon

Epic Tomatoes by Craig Lehoullier

To grow the tastiest tomatoes in your neighborhood, pick up a copy of Epic Tomatoes. You not only get the author’s ranking of the ten best-tasting varieties, but you also get a guide to which ones you might like based on your own tastes.

This beautifully photographed book gives you a lot of information about heirloom varieties, including their histories and instructions for growing and when to pick them. It’s thorough without feeling overwhelming.

Tomato lovers will feel inspired to try a few new varieties after leafing through this comprehensive guide!

Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time
Buy on Amazon

Growing Great Garlic: The Definitive Guide for Organic Gardeners and Small Farmers by Ron L. Engeland

With hundreds of cultivars to choose from, an in-depth guide like Growing Great Garlic will guide you through the garlic wilderness. It’s my go-to garlic book!

This comprehensive handbook covers garlic’s history and how to plant, cultivate, care for, cure, and store it.  You’ll discover everything (and then some) that you need to know to grow garlic in your backyard successfully. This book will satisfy the appetites of garlic lovers everywhere!

Growing Great Garlic: The Definitive Guide for Organic Gardeners and Small Farmers
Buy on Amazon

The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray

The Chinese Kitchen Garden is full of practical tips organized by season. Each vegetable comes with a brief description of its use in the kitchen. And you’ll also find many of the author’s family recipes in the book.

It’s a useful kitchen gardening book and a loving take on Asian vegetables and cuisine from a knowledgeable and passionate grower. 

Even if your winters are too harsh for lemongrass or ginger, spring and autumn are perfect for Asian mustards and cabbages!

The Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques and Family Recipes from a Classic Cuisine
Buy on Amazon

The best book for planting a sustainable garden

Growing Good Food by Acadia Tucker

Growing Good Food not only explains how to grow a garden but also how to grow one that helps the environment.

You’ll learn how to create your own Climate Victory Garden – a vegetable garden that absorbs carbon dioxide and helps mitigate climate change. After reading this book, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the life in your soil and its unique ability to pull carbon out of the air.

The book is easy to follow, entertaining, and informative. And helpful charts and illustrations explain climate science and techniques for starting a garden to combat climate change. This book offers hope and solutions for our climate crisis. It’s perfect for anyone with a backyard who cares about our environment!

Growing Good Food: A Citizen’s Guide to Backyard Farming
Buy on Amazon

The best vegetable gardening books for urban growers

Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy

Edible Landscaping takes an in-depth look at how to grow an edible garden that looks as good as it tastes. It’s filled with practical advice, including how to prep your soil, choose the best plants, make a plan, and complete your garden design.

All types of edibles are covered, including herbs, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, flowers, and grains. There are multiple extensive appendices with lists of edible plants, including those best for small gardens, planting and maintenance tips, and pests and diseases.

The detailed index of plants is a valuable resource. But one caveat is that some plants in the book will only survive in warmer growing zones (zone 6 and up). Even so, this is one of the most comprehensive books available on edible plants and well worth the investment.

Edible Landscaping
Buy on Amazon

The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre! by Carleen Madigan

The Backyard Homestead gives a good overview of different homesteading practices.

Topics covered include organic gardening, preserving, making cheese, raising and processing grains, baking bread, and even brewing beer – all on a ¼ acre or less.

When you pick up a copy of this book, you can provide your family with an abundance of food all year long!

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
Buy on Amazon

Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich

Who wouldn’t want to add more beauty to their landscape and organic fruit to their table? In Landscaping with Fruit you’ll learn how to add the right fruits to your landscape. It has helpful pointers on plant selection, pest control, pruning, and harvesting, which makes it a great choice for beginners.

While this book doesn’t cover every fruit out there (for some reason, raspberries are absent!?), he recommends 39 types of fruit (some uncommon) that are well-suited to home gardens. A handy chart details the yields, hardiness zones, pollination needs, landscape uses, and ornamental qualities of each plant. 

With this book you’ll be growing fruit in no time!

Landscaping with Fruit: Strawberry ground covers, blueberry hedges, grape arbors, and 39 other luscious fruits to make your yard an edible paradise. (A Homeowners Guide)
Buy on Amazon

The best book for gardens in challenging environments

Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert & Dry Times by Maureen Gilmer

Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert & Dry Times is perfect for gardeners who want to grow organically in dry climates.

The author takes a water-conscious approach and shows you how to have a productive garden — even in times of drought.

She includes varietal recommendations and a seasonal crop guide to help you plan your garden and set realistic expectations for producing vegetables in arid climates.

Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert & Dry Times: The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening without Wasting Water
Buy on Amazon

The best books for self-sufficient, organic gardening

Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits, and Vegetables by Acadia Tucker

Growing Perennial Foods isn’t just a useful book. It’s also well-written with charming illustrations.

In this easy-to-use guide, you’ll discover the benefits of perennial edibles. These hardy plants can withstand extreme weather conditions, which sadly are becoming more common for all of us.

You get detailed profiles of 34 perennial plants, with helpful instructions on how to plant, grow, and harvest them. Not all of them are cold hardy (some will only survive in zone 6 or warmer). But this is the best book about perennial vegetables I’ve seen.

As a bonus, the author also included 34 recipes. And the ones I’ve tried have been delicious!

Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits, and Vegetables
Buy on Amazon

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe

The Resilient Gardener will inspire you to design your garden to withstand hard times. This includes natural and personal disasters that can affect how well our gardens grow.

The book focuses on 4 crops (and one animal) that should see home growers through hard times: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, (and ducks/duck eggs).

The author is a plant breeder, so her guidance on selecting varieties, seed-saving, and pollination is super helpful. And she includes instructions on garden layout as well as planning and storing and cooking/preserving your harvests. This book will help ensure your garden thrives and stays productive, even when life doesn’t go according to plan.

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times
Buy on Amazon

The best vegetable gardening book for growing in cold climates

The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by Ron Kujawski

If you live in a cold climate, The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook will help you manage your schedule and keep track of essential tasks like seed starting and planting dates.

The book helps you plant at the correct time and reminds you what to do each week (based on your last frost date). Many people like this stress-free approach. Depending on where you live, you may have to tweak things so the tasks line up with your garden’s needs throughout the year.

If you aren’t sure what to do when in your garden, this book is perfect for you! You’ll find yourself revisiting this book year after year.

The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season
Buy on Amazon

Related: Smart Gardening Checklists – Always know what to do in your garden and when.

The best book on raised beds

Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan

Raised Bed Revolution will help you design a raised bed garden you love. Whether you’re dealing with horrible soil or a physical condition and want a garden at a more accessible height, this book is the guide you need.

You get numerous plans for raised beds with detailed instructions, a list of materials, and step-by-step photos. It also covers what to fill your new beds with and how to fill them. While it doesn’t cover growing in raised beds in great detail, it’s an indispensable source for anyone looking to build a raised bed garden.

Raised Bed Revolution: Build It, Fill It, Plant It ... Garden Anywhere!
Buy on Amazon

Share your picks for the best vegetable gardening books

Did I miss any great books? What is your favorite book? Share in a comment below!

Hi!  I’m  Cheryl. Cheryl Spencer

I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it.

I’ll show you how easy it can be to have a garden that fits into your lifestyle, wows your neighbors, and makes your family say “more veggies, please!”

Cheryl Spencer, certified gardener Hi, I’m Cheryl.
I’m a certified gardener, bird lover, and spreadsheet enthusiast. I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it. I teach online gardening courses and write articles that help you save time and money in your garden. Join my mailing list, and as a bonus, you’ll get a helpful checklist that’ll tell you what to do in your garden right now.

6 thoughts on “The Ultimate List of the Best Vegetable Gardening Books”

  1. Growing your own food is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Thanks for creating this helpful list of books!

  2. I want to create a pleasant outdoor space and eat well with my own homegrown produce! It looks like the books you’ve listed are filled with tips on organic gardening, good food for your family, and more! Thank you for putting this together.

    1. Hi Lola,

      Thanks for the great feedback! There are so many great books out there on gardening and vegetable gardening. It’s great to hear that you’re looking to get started with it yourself and have found some great resources.

  3. My list of top 5 vegetable gardening books (for northerners) also includes the Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. I’ll have to check out the Week to Week Gardening and Four Season Harvest!

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