The Best 5 Books for the DIY Edible Gardener

If you're a gardener or lover of gardening books, you likely know that the gardening book selection is vast.  It can even be overwhelming.  When I lived in Portland, OR, I would spend hours just browsing books in the gardening section of Powell's Books (the best bookstore I've ever been to, by the way).  Libraries are often well-stocked with gardening books, too.  

I've put together a list of five gardening books that I absolutely love.  If you're overwhelmed by all the choices at your favorite book store, online retailer, or library, take a look at these books to get started.  Then search around some more and decide which other books suit your gardening (and learning) style.


1 - The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping: Home Landscaping with Food-Bearing Plants and Resource-Saving Techniques

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by Rosalind Creasy

As an edible landscape designer, I think this book is excellent.  I'd recommend it to anyone interested in growing food while also creating beauty in their yard. 

The book is divided into three sections.  The first one covers everything from the why's and how's (such as chemicals in commercially grown food, resource conservation, soil, garden planning, container gardens, and much more).  The second section is a detailed encyclopedia of edible plants (which I reference often).  The third section is resources and references.  The entire book is excellent. 

I'd also recommend checking out Creasy's more recent book called Edible Landscaping: Now You Can Have Your Gorgeous Garden and Eat it Too!  It's the revised edition (2010) of this 1982 gem.


2 - Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create

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by Renee Wilkinson

I love to read about garden success stories, and this book is one of them.  Wilkinson dabbled in gardening as a renter and once she bought a house, her gardening efforts really took off. 

Learn all about creating your modern homestead through topics such as soil building, composting, container gardening, raising animals in the city, preserving your harvest, building community, and more.  Tackle projects easily with her step by step instructions for project such as: newspaper seed pots, finch houses, chicken runs, worm bins, recipes, and so much more. 

The photos throughout the book are gorgeous and inspiring.


3 - Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

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by Toby Hemenway

Written by my late permaculture instructor, Toby Hemenway, this book is by far my favorite permaculture guide for home gardeners.  It explains what permaculture is and discusses the permaculture design principles then goes on to give tons of really accessibly examples that can be applied to your home garden - no matter the size. 

If you're interested in creating a garden that is beyond sustainable (yes, that's possible), this book is for you.  It's well worth purchasing, so you can refer to it for years to come. 

This is also a book that I frequently recommend to clients, friends, and family who are interested in growing food and more.


4 - Residential Landscape Architecture: Design Process for the Private Residence

by Norman K. Booth and James E. Hiss

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This might seem like an odd choice for one of my top five books for DIY edible gardeners, but let me explain.  As a residential landscape designer focusing on edible gardens, I came across the exact same problems time after time in homeowners' yards.  All of these problems lead back to poor design. 

A lot of edible gardeners like to tackle the design portion of their project on their own, and I think that's great.  But first, I would recommend taking some time to educate yourself on basic landscape design techniques so that you can avoid common mistakes.  Mistakes lead to frustration, wasted time, and extra costs.  The result of poor planning was often a design consultation or custom design project with me (or another landscape designer) to help correct the mistakes that were causing maintenance nightmares, an overall dissatisfaction with the space, and poor plant performance.  

Residential Landscape Architecture was my textbook during my landscape design education.  It's a great resource for anyone interested in tackling their own edible garden design.  Skim through it and glean some helpful information that will result in a successful edible garden design.


5 - Landscape Graphics: Plant, Section, and Perspective Drawing of Landscape Spaces

by Grant W. Reid

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I was first introduced to this book in college when I was taking landscape design courses.  I didn't actually purchase this book until recently (many years later) but I still find it as valuable now as I did then.  I absolutely love creating landscape designs and could do it every day, but making the plans look beautiful is a whole different task.  

This book is packed with drawing examples and it teaches you how to tackle any landscape drawing project, starting with some education on design lingo and the design process.  With this book, you'll soon be mastering basic drafting, lettering, freehand drawing, section-elevations, graphic symbols, perspective drawings, and so much more. 

For any aspiring designers out there (or even DIY edible gardeners who want to create an eye-catching master plan), this book is for you.  Check it out from your local library if you're just doing one project or purchase a copy if drawing is part of your everyday work.

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I'd love to hear from you!  What are your favorite edible gardening books?  Post your comments below.