Recommended Garden Books
Place of Learning: 

ESY Berkeley Teaching Staff
Edible Schoolyard Project
Berkeley, CA

Longtime garden consultant Wendy Johnson compiled this list of gardening books to help the reader become more skilled and knowledgeable about the theories, techniques, and history of gardening.
The Art of Simple Food, Vols. 1 and 2
  • Alice Waters. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, Vol. 1 – 2007, Vol. 2 – 2013.
  • From the heart of the garden, food to nourish the soul and to feed a hungry world. These two volumes are an indispensable feast of flavor and inspiration.
Edible Gardening: Ten Essential Practices for Growing Your Own Food
  • Benjamin Eichorn
  • A fresh primer on how to start an edible school garden, written by long-time garden educator and teacher at The Edible Schoolyard. This free downloadable primer is a valuable resource for beginning as well as seasoned growers. Download at
Micro Eco-Farming
  • Barbara Berst Adams.  Auburn, CA: New World Publishing, 2004
Tending the Wild
  • M. Kat Anderson.  Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 2005.
Seed to Seed
  • Suzanne Ashworth. Decorah, IA: Seed Savers Exchange, Inc., 1991.
  • The best seedsaving resource book I know, this text includes all of the major families of vegetables with their requirements for careful seed preservation.
Rodale’s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
  • Bradley and Ellis, eds. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1993.
  • In publication since 1959, this practical volume offers newly updated material and research on gardening organically. The definitive resource book!
The Nature and Properties of Soils
  • H.O. Buckman and N.C. Brady. New York: MacMillan, 1974.
  • A classic textbook for the curious student of soil.
Botany for Gardeners
  • Brian Capon. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1990.
  • An excellent introduction and guide to basic horticultural botany, well-illustrated with clear photographs and drawings.
The New Organic Grower
  • Elliot Coleman. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 1989.
  • Written by a pioneer in the organic movement, this is a wonderful, clear and creative book on setting up a productive organic operation.
Botany in a Day: The Patterns and Method of Plant Identification
  • Thomas Epel. Pony, Montana: HOPS Press, 1996.
Pests of the Garden and Small Farm
  • Mary Louise Flint. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
  • For gardeners interested in non-toxic management of pesky insects, slugs and snails, plant disease and weeds, this book is essential, with its 250 large, clear photographs that help with accurate definition of your problem.
The Soul of Soil
  • Grace Gershuny and Joseph Smillie. Chelsea Green Publishing Company; 4th edition (June 1999).
  • This guide to ecological soil cultivation is clear, comprehensive, and based in organic soil management procedures. Every time I open this book I learn something new about soil.
Hartmann and Kester's Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices
  • H.T. Hartmann, D. E. Kester, et al. Pearson Education: 2001.
  • This excellent textbook covers all aspects of scientific plant propagation from both the theoretical and applied points of view. An indispensible guide for the dedicated propagator.
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home Scale Permaculture
  • 2nd Edition, Toby Hemenway.  White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010.


An Agricultural Testament; and Soil and Health,
  • Sir Albert Howard. London: Oxford University Press, 1940, and New York: Schoken Books, 1947.
  • These two classic books on the source of fertility arising from the decay and life of the forest both offer a clear, early articulation of ecological composting based in the preservation and formation of humus.
How To Grow More Vegetables
  • John Jeavons, 6th Edition, 2002. Available in many languages through Ecology Action Network.
  • A classic on the biointensive method of growing and maintaining a thriving and productive organic garden at home. From the teaching lineage of Alan Chadwick, this book is a treasure chest of relevant and radical information.
Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate
  • Wendy Johnson.  New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2008
Mindfully Green
  • Stephanie Kaza.  Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2008.
Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally
  • Robert Kourik. Santa Rosa, CA: Metamorphic Press, 1986.
  • A highly original and valuable book for the home gardener. I always feel that I am visiting a lifelong friend when I open this book.
Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth
  • William Bryant Logan. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995.
  • A profound natural history of the soil combining science, philosophy and history conveyed in elegant, quirky prose. One of my favorite books.
Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web
  • Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2006
Gardening With a Wild Heart
  • Judith Larner Lowry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
  • A living book, and one of my favorites, written by a friend and colleague who gardens with the native plants growing just outside her doorway.
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
  • Bill McKibben.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2010.
The End of Nature
  • Bill McKibben.  New York: Random House, 2006.
The Gardener’s Table
  • Richard Merrill and Joe Ortiz. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2000.
  • This guide to natural vegetable growing and cooking is rich in flavor and information. Richard Merrill is one of my most valued garden mentors. This is a wholly nourishing book.
Step by Step Organic Vegetable Gardening
  • Shepard Ogden. New York: Harper Collins, 1992.
  • Building on the work of his grandfather, Shep has added his own considerable research, experience and love to produce a clear, relevant and inspiring book for the home gardener.
The Gardener’s Guide to Common-Sense Pest Control
  • William and Helga Olkowski and Sheila Daar. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 2013.
  • The definitive text on Integrated Pest Management for the home and garden.
Golden Gate Gardening
  • Pam Pierce and Pam Dardick. Sasquatch Books, revised edition, 1998.
  • This is a complete guide to year-round food production and to organic garden culture for the Bay Area, although Pam’s research and organization makes her book widely relevant to long-season growing climates around the country.
Ecological Design
  • Sim Van Der Ryn and Stuart Cowan. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1996.
  • A book not of things but of natural and designed systems in deep, ecological conversation. Vision and inspiration pervade this coherent text.