Best books to learn more about gardening?

Hello everyone,
Is there a go to book for getting down the basics of gardening? Aka information about soil/soil amendments, timing of plantings, pH etc that is considered the standard?

A good start would be The Old Farmers Almanac. And the digital version I do believe is free.

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Two books by Steve Solomon. Gardening when it Counts and The Intelligent Gardener. Changed my whole perspective on gardening. Soil analysis is essential. If you don’t know what you have all the compost in the world won’t help. He is opinionated but he has experience to speak from. I would start with Gardening when it Counts first. It is less technical. Then read the next one.


We have several shelves of gardening books, but most well-worn one is John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Gardener from 1979. There is now a New Self-Sufficient Gardener, published in 2008, four years after Seymour’s death, but we don’t own a copy, so I don’t know how different it is.

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Try The Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond, cover the how to on just about everything a gardener can grow

I liked Steve Solomon’s book
Organic Gardening
West of the Cascades.
He isn’t strictly organic
His book is solid for vegetable gardening

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Garden Magic, written in the 40s I believe. It is dated with respect to pesticides and fungicides but otherwise is very solid. It also covers ornamentals. I’m sure it’s out of print but if you stumbled across it at a yard sale get it.

The list of good gardening books could fill, well, a book. One of the best places to start is Barbara Damrosch’s Garden Primer. Also Ed Smith’s The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. Joy of Gardening is also pretty good. Keep in mind that these (and a lot of the other popular books) were written by people in the Northeast (should work OK for you in Illinois). Also, there’s not really going to be one-size-fits-all advice on amendments - blueberries and lavender require pretty much opposite conditions in most repects, for example. That being said, a lot of common flowering, fruiting, and vegetable plants are close enough in their needs (full sun, decent drainage, decent fertility, no weeds, circumneutral to slightly acid soil) that you can get some good general advice to get started.

I would also think about what kinds of plants you think you want to grow. Learning how plants react to pruning will be helpful for any kind of gardening, but it is essential if you’re going to grow trees or shrubs.

Rodale’s Organic Gardening Encyclopedia from the 1970s. On ebay for very cheap.

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@Lee Reich wrote a few books on the topic

Books (

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