It’s never too early to start planning your garden. Try these beginner gardening books to avoid my mistakes.

I grew up on a 150-acre sheep farm in rural Virginia. We had a fabulous garden right out our back door. We ate from it all season long and well into the winter. Our pantry and freezer chest were chock-full of homegrown food. I still have vivid memories of picking fruit and vegetables throughout the summer, sweet corn, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, snap peas (my personal favorite as a child), potatoes, lettuce, squash (not my favorite as a child), pumpkins, strawberries, and even blueberries from the bushes my grandfather planted along the garden’s edge.

I don’t know about you, but last year when we went into COVID-19 lockdown (has it been a year already?), I decided to start a backyard garden with my kiddos. I suppose it was partly nostalgia and the desire to keep my children outside busy and learning—and partly the new reality of limited trips to the bare-shelved grocery store that provided the motivation I needed to give backyard gardening a try.

Having grown up on a farm, I figured how hard could it be? I donned my mask and gloves, armed myself with a bottle of hand sanitizer, and made a trip to our local garden center for seeds and soil. Feeling optimistic, we started all kinds of seeds.

Zoe Panay Planting Peas

In the end, we managed to keep a small patch of snap peas alive long enough to harvest and learned a ton along the way, including what “leggy” beans are, that plants have to be hardened in New England (who knew?), that squirrels are out to get you (they love strawberries!), and that your garden zone really does matter.

Zoe and Lydia Panay with pea plant starters

Which got me to thinking, if only I had spent a few hours flipping through beginner gardening books, perhaps more of our plants would have seen the light of day. So, without further ado, here’s a short must-have list of beginner gardening books to get your garden growing this year.

Grow Veg

GrowVeg 
For anyone who has ever wanted to tend a little piece of ground but wasn’t sure where to begin, GrowVeg offers simple recipes for gardening projects that are both attainable and beautiful. The experts at the popular website GrowVeg.com guide aspiring green thumbs to success from the start, no matter what size gardening space they have. The beginner-friendly instructions and step-by-step photography detail more than 30 easy, small-scale gardening projects, from a rustic crate of herbs on a sunny balcony to a walk-through edible archway.

Starter Vegetable Gardens

Starter Vegetable Gardens
Develop your green thumb as you learn to grow your own food. In this introductory guide to growing vegetables, Barbara Pleasant addresses common problems that first-time gardeners encounter. Using simple language and illustrated garden layouts, Pleasant shows you how to start, maintain, and eventually expand an organic vegetable garden in even the tiniest backyard.

The Vegetable Gardner's Bible

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible2nd Edition
This invaluable resource helps gardeners grow an abundance of vegetables and herbs following Ed Smith’s time-tested system for high-yield harvests. Home food gardeners will find vegetable specific information, an unwavering commitment to organic methods, solutions for small spaces, and tips for extending the season.

Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardner's Handbook

Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener determined to increase crop yields or starting your very first vegetable garden, the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook will help you manage your schedule and prioritize what’s important. Detailed weekly to-do lists break gardening down into simple and manageable tasks so that you always know what needs to be done and when to do it, from starting seeds and planting strawberries to checking for tomato hornworms and harvesting carrots. Enjoy a bountiful harvest with this organized and stress-free approach to gardening.

Food definitely tastes better when you grow it yourself. Would these faces lie? We’d love to see your garden grow. Share your photos with us online @storeypub.

Eating homegrown peas

Oh, and if you are curious, my parents sold our farm after my little brother, older sister, and I left to start our own families. A lovely couple purchased it, and they carry on our family farm tradition (and then some!).

Kimberly Thompson Panay

Kimberly is an artist, mama, and marketer. As resident marketing communications manager here at Storey Publishing, she writes about all things book related. With a… See Bio

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GrowVeg

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