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Anybody else here fall into a love of gardening last year?
Read every book and watch every YouTube video you could about homesteading and growing your own vegetables?
Possibly drive your significant other slightly insane with the constant gardening talk?
I started with one 8×3 ft raised bed garden two summers ago and for the first time, grew my own tomatoes, basil, and peppers. The experience of eating a caprese sandwich with my homegrown tomatoes and basil…
I was hooked.
Vegetable gardening is the perfect combination of instant and delayed gratification. I can plant seeds and in just a few days, little seedlings are popping out of the ground!
Every morning I inspect my garden and get a thrill when I see a new flower or leaf form.
Historically, I had what you would call a black thumb (or more commonly know as plant murderer). EVERYTHING I tried to grow would die, even hardy plants like succulents and snake plants.
I moved to a new climate several years ago that is considered fairly difficult to grow veggies in due to the significant daily temperature swings and short gardening season (only 120 days frost-free days!).
I despaired that I would not be able to grow anything successfully, and the little homestead of my dreams would remain out of reach.
How I Got My Garden To Finally Survive
This spring, I was determined. This time, my plants would thrive.
To turn my black thumb into a green thumb, I decided to dedicate time to do some basic research on successful vegetable gardening- rather than my prior technique of plopping some dirt and a tomato seedling into a pot and hoping for the best.
Which clearly was not working for me.
I read at least ten fantastic books on vegetable gardening, they ranged from beginner to advanced techniques. I binge watched far too much gardening YouTube and listened to gardening podcasts at every opportunity.
Did you know that you can listen to podcasts doing just about any chore: cleaning, cooking, painting, walking the dog, kissing your significant other… 😀
The final key was finding other gardeners in a similar gardening zone to me via social media and learning what works and doesn’t work in our specific microclimate.
For example, when I learned after the fact, that planting tomatoes and peppers before June 1st can leave them venerable to a sudden frost in our fickle Colorado spring weather.
There goes $100 in seedlings…
In short, I packed my brain with so much gardening knowledge that some of it actually stuck and my plants did not just survive last year, but lived long enough to produce enough edible vegetables for my family and my neighbors!
You Can Grow A Garden Too!
If you are ready to take the plunge into the veggie gardening space this year, I created a list of my favorite books and other resources that I used to create the veggie garden of my dreams.
If you are like me and need a little gardening inspiration to survive the depths of winter, scroll below to a list of my favorite gardening fiction to curl up with on the couch and dream of warm weather.
Non-Fiction Gardening Books For The True Beginner
The Plant Daddy and owner of YouTube’s Epic Gardening, Kevin Espiritu started out in the middle of urban San Diego and successfully grew an impressive variety of plants and crops for a yard the size of a postage stamp.
This book demonstrates how ANYONE, and I mean anyone, can grow herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowers and more without owning a large piece of property. He has techniques for container gardening, vertical gardening, and raised beds that can apply to practically anyone, including apartment dwellers.
Another fantastic title focused on folks with limited space to enact their homesteading fantasies. I find that suburban future gardeners will find the most benefit from Gary’s techniques and tips.
Homesteader and owner of YouTube’s Roots and Refuge, Jessica is able to break down the crucial steps for successful veggie gardening.
While she owns a very large raised bed homestead (check it out on YouTube!), I found that her tips were still applicable to my two raised beds.
Vegetable Gardening to the Next Level: Advanced Gardening Books
I purchased this book last fall during my visit to the gorgeous Denver Botanical Gardens. A little high (sorry Colorado joke) on my summer gardening successes, I decided that I needed guidance to bring my 2022 garden to the next level.
This book goes into far more detail regarding specific varieties, niche tips and tricks with different plant types and so much more.
Plus, it has absolutely gorgeous photos. Highly recommend for the intermediate level gardener.
Do you dream of creating your own market garden to fully live off the land AND make a profit? While my own market garden dreams are far off, Eliot Coleman demonstrates how gardeners living on 2.5 acres or less can create a viable income with organic gardening. A fascinating read, but I would not recommend the beginner to start here.
Live in a climate with a short growing season like me? Niki manages to grow crops year around in NOVA SCOTIA, and she details techniques on how she is able to do so in this book. With her techniques, I was able to lengthen my own growing season by two months with a few cheap tricks.
Do you love tomatoes? I mean… LOVE tomatoes?
Craig is a self proclaimed tomato enthusiast and details in this book how to grow over 200 different varieties of tomatoes. If you have ever had trouble growing this temptress fruit or just love to learn about heirloom varieties, check this book out.
Can you tell that my dream is to start a little homestead?
Brett makes the case with this book that it is possible on as little as a 1/4 of acre, smaller than the lot of many of our suburban homes! Even if you don’t dream of chickens like I do, the strategies in this book can apply to gardens of all sizes.
Gardening Fiction To Inspire Your Dream
In book one of the “In The Garden” Trilogy, Nora Roberts weaves an enemies-to-lovers romance with the backdrop of an incredible local nursery that has me drooling to visit.
While not a vegetable gardening novel, the author clearly has a passion for gardening with explanations of hybridization and other planting tips that showcases her extensive knowledge. Plus a little bit of paranormal activity!
A more modern style rom-com, this novel makes my heart melt with this uplifting story of a widow struggling with her husband’s death deciding to turn her backyard into a yard vegetable garden. She knows nothing about gardening and is bolding floating the HOA bylaws. Hilarity ensues!
Sarah Addison Allen
Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic meets gardening in this adorable novel about the relationship of two estranged sisters and the quirky gifts that run in the Waverley family.
If you loved Practical Magic, book or movie, you will adore this gardening centric novel based in North Carolina. My most highly recommend gardening fiction novel!
Alice Hoffman, like Sarah Addison Allen mentioned above, writes stories full of magical realism. Her most popular title is her Practical Magic series, but don’t let that deter you from picking up this book.
In the town of Blackwell (Bearswell), MA, the book follows the descendants of the founders of the town with each story running about 20-30 years apart. In the center of these stories is the mysterious Red Garden where only red plants can grow.
A family saga with a secret garden in the front and center. The novel spans the story of Cassandra and her grandmother, Nell, who raised her. Distraught after her grandmother death, she is surprisingly bequeathed a house on the Cornish coast with a family secret to uncover.
My Favorite Gardening Youtube Channels and Podcasts
If reading a vegetable garden book seems too daunting, check out these Gardening YouTubes and Podcasts to further enhance your journey from beginner to master gardener!
- Epic Gardening– Join me and 1.5 million subscribers learning the basics of growing plants in urban locations. The founder, Kevin (author listed above) recently moved into a larger property and his transformation of a suburban property to homestead is inspiring!
- Roots And Refuge Farm– Part Vlog, Part Gardening How-To, Jessica’s raised bed garden (and now, new homestead) are an awe-inspiring. She grows and preserves SO MUCH food. Her book above, The First Time Gardener, is one of the first I give a prospective gardener.
- Epic Gardening– At this point, it may sound like I am getting some serious cash to push this community, but I swear I’m not! The books, website, YouTube, and podcasts are just THAT good. The podcasts features 10-15 minutes snippets of various gardening subjects daily. Perfect for your commute!
- The Beginner’s Garden Podcast– If you are a true beginner like I was, you may be overwhelmed by different tips and techniques that can make it hard to even start. Jill creates 30-60 minute discussions on various beginner friendly topics: Whats the best way to water? Why and How to Mulch? When to Take Out Summer Garden Plants? She does have a religious slant to her podcasts, but she leaves that discussion to the end of the podcast making it easy to skip if that is not your jam.
- Joe Gardener– A fantastic podcast featuring a slightly more advanced topics, his episodes run 30-60 minutes cover the most common questions in gardening. In fact, I found many of the above gardening books after he interviewed the author on the podcast. A must listen!
Are you thinking about a vegetable garden this year?
Comment below and tell us your most favorite gardening successes!