As a gardening rookie, I try to educate myself on the subject as much as I can. Internet resources are invaluable, but I like a good book, too! Between my small collection and the local library, I have read a fair amount of gardening books. Here are my favourites.
1. A potted history of Fruit: A kitchen cornucopia by Mike Darton and
2. A potted history of Vegetables: A delicious, dip-in kitchen cornucopia by Lorraine Harrison.
These two little books don't contain much gardening advice per se, but I really like them. They are full of interesting facts, curiosities, legends and superstitions as well as historical notes on various fruit and vegetables. They are unique in the way that you're very unlikely to find this information in your regular gardening manual. But the thing I love the most about these books are the illustrations, most of which are reprints of old, beautiful botanical drawings. I sometimes like to just flip through them to admire those beauties!
3. Forgotten Fruits: A guide to Britain's traditional fruit and vegetables by Christopher Stocks.
This is definitely a book 'to read' rather than 'to look at' as it doesn't contain many pictures. It is the newest addition to my collection and I haven't finished it yet, but I already like it a lot. It goes over many varieties of fruit and vegetables that have been forgotten over the years but are worth bringing back due to their remarkable taste or other qualities. Fascinating!
A richly illustrated book for newbies like me, with step-by-step advice on gardening in raised beds and containers. With hundreds of photos and easy-to-follow advice, this is the book that got me dreaming about my own little garden months before we bought our house. One of my favourite chapters is the one on re-inventing every-day objects as containers for plants, which inspired me to turn an old pallet into a planter (a project for next spring!)
This is a classic that most people who are into gardening already know. I had heard about this book long ago, but found it a bit too expensive to buy. But luckily, I came across it in my local library! A few sections of this book are irrelevant to me, as I don't keep livestock or have a lot of land (they're a good read anyway), but the gardening section is full of invaluable information. It was this book that inspired me to try and grow plants that are a bit more unusual than the standard carrot, cabbage etc. I have already planted Jerusalem artichoke, Chinese kiwi, Japanese quince and aronia and am thinking about a few more to sow and plant next year. Of course there's nothing wrong with the 'regular' veggies and those will be the majority in my garden. This book offers plenty advice on growing pretty much everything you can think of, with a detailed calendar of things to sow, plant or harvest each month of the year; it also has a very interesting chapter on pest control with multiple simple, biological tricks to try. It also contains chapters on preserving foods, brewing and wine-making, cooking and baking. I have to return this book to the library next week, but I think I will be getting my own copy now as I really don't want to part with it! If I was to have only one single book on gardening, it would be this one without a doubt.