Contrary to popular belief, farmers and gardeners aren’t born with a naturally green thumb! (At least, we weren’t!) We learn our craft over time, studying the wisdom of the growers that came before us.
That means practice, testing, and lots of reading to figure out the best ways to grow fruits and veggies and take care of the animals on the farm. We’ve collected a few of our favorite farming and gardening books to help you along your own horticulture journey. Ranging from books for beginners to books for the more advanced, there’s something in here for everyone who wants to become a bit more adept at their outdoor endeavors.
The New Organic Grower
Eliott Coleman’s classic book The New Organic Grower has been a gardening staple since it was released in the late 1980s. Focused on creating a closed-loop system that recycles nutrients back into the soil, this book can help both professional and amateur farmers and gardeners to evaluate their processes and keep their land sustainable.
Learn about creating moveable greenhouses to keep pests to a minimum, and find organic solutions to pest and disease problems without damaging the surrounding ecosystem. It’s a must for the serious grower!
Richard Perkins’ Regenerative Agriculture takes a biochemist’s approach to sustainable farming. Aimed more at the small farmer than the home gardener, this book is packed full of scientific wisdom aimed at restoring soil and keeping small farms productive for generations to come. Since that’s what we’re all about here at Barton Hill Farms, this book has a special place on our bookshelves.
Perkins has walked the walk — his farm in Sweden is tiny and has a short growing season, and yet it’s profitable and healthy year after year. With information about farm design and logistics, tools, grazing practices, and finances, this gardening book is a great tool for improving both the health of your land and the bottom line.
Pastured Poultry Profits
Farmer and writer Joel Salatin has contributed his own mini-library to the field of agriculture and husbandry. For those raising their own chickens, his Pastured Poultry Profits provides a manual for taking good care of your birds, whether they’re for meat or eggs. The book also teaches how to make sure your chicken operation is profitable if you’re raising chickens as a business.
As the owner and operator of Polyface Farms in rural Virginia, Salatin has become a vocal spokesperson for sustainable family farms. He promotes pasture-raising livestock and poultry and eating seasonal produce. He aims to recreate as-close-to-natural conditions and cycles as possible on his farm. With these techniques, family farmers and hobby hen-raisers can keep their birds healthy and keep their land productive.
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden
If you dream of bringing huge armfuls of bright cut flowers into your home each spring, then Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden is for you. Written by Floret Flowers founder Erin Benzakein, this book teaches home gardeners how to plant, care for, and harvest their own cut flower gardens.
Unlike a standard garden where the blooms are meant to stay on the plant, a cut flower garden is grown to be harvested. By setting up a small cut flower garden in addition to your standard garden beds, you’ll ensure that you have an abundance of blooms both outside and inside to add spring and summertime cheer to your home.
This beautiful book is full of vibrant photos, and includes instructions in flower arranging so you can showcase your sprays to their best effect.
Dale Groom’s Texas Gardening Guide
Most of the books on this list dive deep into one specific gardening topic. Dale Groom’s Texas Gardening Guide goes the other direction, serving as a handy reference guide to planting and maintaining a wide variety of Texas-friendly plant species.
With a thorough index for quick searching, this is one of the best gardening books for beginners because it’s not overwhelming. Just flip to the plant you are curious about and get a quick rundown on size and hardiness, when and where to plant, and best maintenance tips. Keep this reference book on hand to help plan your garden and diagnose any trouble as it gets established.
Read…and Then Do!
Books on farming and gardening are packed full of information and are vital pieces of the amateur and professional farmer’s toolkit. But there is no teacher like experience. So don’t spend all your time reading about gardening. Go out there and get your hands dirty, because that’s where the magic happens!