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Recommended Books

The Great Plant Guide – The American Horticultural Society published a reference book, AHS Great Plant Guide, which lists over 3,000 plants and their heat zone (and hardiness zone) ratings. It’s is my go-to reference for heat tolerance.

Pests of the West, Revised

What’s Wrong With My Vegetable Garden?

Square Foot Gardening

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible

Weedless Gardening

The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook

The Ever-Blooming Flower Garden

The Flower Gardener’s Bible

Perennials All Season

Start With The Soil

Life in The Soil If you really want to geek-out about soil, this is the book for you!


Recommended Tools

Tools for soil, mulch, and fertilizers

Broad Fork with fiberglass handles

Broad Fork with steel handles

Garden Fork heirloom-quality

Soil Sampler Probe (for taking a very clean soil sample)

Soil Sampler Probe with Step (for taking a very clean soil sample)

Mulching Fork picks up all types of organic mulches. It’s a heavy tool, but works great when you have a truckload of mulch to spread! It easily pierces a pile of mulch (something that shovels can’t do).

Aluminum Scoop for moving rock and gravel. Can also be used for mulch, but not as effectively as the mulching fork.

Transfer Shovel for moving rock and gravel.

Garden Rake for spreading mulch.

Bahco P20 Pruning Knife excellent weed-cloth/landscape-fabric-removal tool.

Oxo Kitchen Scale for measuring fertilizers (cheap enough to keep in your shed or garage full-time).


Seed Starting Setup and Equipment

Seed Starting Rack 18d x 48w

Wire Shelf Unit 18 x 48″

4′ Grow Light | Designer Series 4′ Grow Light

2′ Grow Light | Designer Series 2′ Grow Light


Seed Starting Rack 24 d x 48w 

If you have more room available, you can use the 6-bulb light fixtures. This will give all of the plants in a 10 x 20 flat very even light coverage.

Wire Shelf Unit 24 x 48″

4′ Grow Light (6 bulbs)

Designer Series 4′ Grow Light (6 bulbs)


Seed Starting Rack Accessories

Adjustable Light Hangers

Heat Mat

Heat Mat Thermostat


Power Strips

Heavy-Duty Timer


USB-powered fans (if you have nowhere to put your fans)

If you use these fans you’ll need to leave them on 24/7. The oscillating feature turns off when the power goes out.

Clip-on USB Powered Fans

10′ USB cables (for the fans)

USB Wall Charger (for the fans)

1-lb. weights

Magnets (for the fans and weights)


Seed Starting & Soilless Mixes

Jiffy Seed Starting Mix finely ground mix for the first stage of seed starting or use to cover seeds when using a coarser seed starting mix in the rest of the pot.

SunGro Black Gold Seed Starting Mix is a good example of a coarser seed starting mix. It has no fertilizer added, so you can control how much to fertilize your seedlings.

Worm Castings I recommend you supplement your seed starting mix with worm castings. Use a ratio of 1 part castings to 3-7 parts soilless seed starting mix. Worm castings have been shown to have growth enhancement properties when used to start transplants. Purchase enough for this year, and buy fresh each season.

Worms Eat My Garbage (book on vermicomposting, if you want to make your own worm castings)


Trays & Pots

2.5″ Pots

3.5″ pots

Root Raft Styrofoam Plug Tray

Clear Humidity Domes

10 x 20 Trays, No Drain Holes, (10 pk) | Individual Trays

Heavy-Duty 10 x 20 Trays, No Drain Holes (5 pk) | Individual Trays

10 x 20 Trays With Drain Holes (choose drainage holes)

2.5″ Form Trays (for outdoor use)

3.5″ Form Trays (for outdoor use)


Other Tools


Soil Sifter

Potting Tray

Bottle Brush (for cleaning pots)

Drop Cloth


Widger Tool

Spray Bottle (sprays even when horizontal, and gives a fine, even mist)

Pastry Tamper

Small, Sharp Scissors

Letter sorter

Plastic Plant Labels

Brother P-Touch Label Maker (for trays and plant labels)

Brother P-Touch Label Maker Tape


Liquid Fertilizer & Insecticide

Mix the fertilizers using the transplant/seedling strength listed on the label. Works for the flowering and non-flower stages of growth. 

Dyna-Grow Foliage Pro (9-3-6)

Miracle Grow (24-8-16)

Age Old Bloom (5-10-5) Only if extra Phosphorus is needed.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (for fungus gnats)


Seed Storage

Wooden Seed Storage Box

Metal Seed Storage Box

Photo Album Seed Storage

Photo Box Seed Storage

Desiccant Packs