I'm a novice gardener planning to begin a vegetable garden. Do you have any book recommendations?There were some great suggestions from the readers in the comment thread (we definitely agree with the local garden club suggestion). Here are a few more books that some of us here at The Kitchn have read and enjoyed.
• Designing the New Kitchen Garden by Jennifer Bartley - An urban garden should be more than a functional space to grow food. It should be beautiful as well as a taste of nature in the city. This book will help you dream of how beautiful a garden can be, and also give some practical guidance on gardens that are beautiful year-round. Gorgeous photos of French kitchen gardens, too!
• Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters - Another very inspiring book that will encourage anyone with children to let them get their hands dirty in the garden. It's also filled with photos of a garden in progress, as well as tips and ideas for cooking with the produce a garden will yield.
Practical Get-Started Guides
• All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew - The classic. This is a very, very practical and easy-to-follow book with tons of photos and guides. The basic concept is to think of your garden in square feet - even if you only have a 4x1 windowbox, you can follow this method.
• You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail - Step-by-step guide to gardening for the first time, with plenty of coverage given to container gardens.
For Extra-Small Spaces
• Fresh Food From Small Places by R.J. Ruppenthal - No spare square feet? Try square-inch gardening instead! This is a good guide to taking advantage of windowsills, terraces, and strips of land between buildings.
• Don't Throw It, Grow It! by Deborah Peterson - If you don't even have room for a garden, you can start many small windowsill plants from your own kitchen scraps and clippings! A good supplement or alternative to composting, too.
But the Best Is...
• Someone you know. A garden is a living thing, and many of its questions and issues are super-local. Can this grow here? What is my dirt made out of? How do I know when to transplant this seedling? Should I bring these plants inside until June? How do I know this is big enough to harvest?
The best resource for these questions and the best way to start a garden is a garden mentor. Do you know someone else close by who is an experienced gardener? Consider bartering a couple homecooked meals or some chores in exchange for an afternoon of guidance and help in setting up your own garden, and see if they can be available for questions throughout the growing season.
All these books are good supplements, but having a mentor is one of the best ways to go through the very first steps of your first garden.
If you don't have a mentor, you can also look for help on online gardening forums. One of the best is Dave's Garden:
Readers, do you have other favorite books, websites, or resources for gardening?
Related: Weekend Project: Plan Your Garden! - With links to plenty more gardening resources