Choose vegetables that are easy to grow from seed or starts. Ideally, these should be bush or mini varieties, which are less shallow rooted and mature quicker.
Vegetables grow best in a sunny location that gets six to eight hours of direct sun a day. Some veggies, like sweet corn and pole beans, will tolerate a little shade.
It’s time to start your garden — or at least make plans for it. The following titles provide instructions and helpful illustrations for vegetables, flowers, or whatever you want to grow.
COMPANION PLANTING FOR BEGINNERS: Pair Your Plants for a Bountiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden by Brian Lowell (635.04 LO) covers basic gardening, as well as what to plant for Pest and Disease Management, Weed Management, and Attracting Beneficial Insects. There are a few sample garden plans to get you started with the first season of companion planning. The last chapter, Vegetable Reference, is devoted to a vegetable per page, complete with growing tips and best companion plants to grow nearby.
MINI FARMING: Self-Sufficiency on _ Acre by Brett L. Markham (635.048 MA) is filled with everything you need to know about gardening. Markham takes readers through garden planning, soil conditioning, and planting, before talking about composting, pest control, and harvesting. After educating readers on growing crops, there’s a section on preserving the harvest and then raising chickens, as well. It’s packed with useful information and great photos.
SEVEN STEP HOMESTEAD by Leah M. Webb (635.0484) takes a one-step-at-a-time approach to backyard gardening that makes the most of a 400 square-foot area of land. Webb provides detailed blueprints and photographs of 4 by 8 ft. garden beds, what to plant and when to plant it, along with where to put berry bushes and fruit trees. There’s also information on winter gardening in a greenhouse or hoop house. If all is going well, take the next step into raising your own chickens, for a steady supply of eggs. Everything in this book is sensible and easy to understand.
THE STORY OF FLOWERS by Noel Kingsbury (635.9 KI) provides insider information on 100 flowers — where they originated, how they have evolved over the years, how they are used domestically and commercially, and why they are so beautiful to behold. After noting that saffron is really just the dried stamen of golden crocus plants and nasturtium flowers are tasty additions to salad, readers may want to expand their growing area for some new edible flowers.
RAISED BED REVOLUTION: Build It, Fill It, Plant It by Tara Nolan (635.9 NO) addresses the trend toward raised gardening with photos on almost every page that show how to make innovative spaces for your plants. Construct your own lettuce table or potato box! Raised beds are more than just square boxes filled with dirt. They include vertical gardens, planters on wheels, and containers made from various materials, customized to a large or small space. Directions for building these structures are included.
THE CONTAINER VICTORY GARDEN by Maggie Stuckey (635.986 ST) draws on the history of Victory Gardens from World War I and World War II, which were created to grow produce locally, avoiding food shortages during wartime. The author parallels these events to the COVID pandemic of 2020, when there were global shortages of many products, including food. There’s the history; now you need a garden plan. Make the most of available space by choosing the right location for the right container. Add seeds or seedlings, following step-by-step instructions for an abundance of edible plants.
BACKYARD HOMESTEAD BIBLE by Tom Harving (630 HA) is a handbook for a sustainable life on the land. Not only does it cover the basics of vegetable gardening, it also delves into creating a complete mini-farm with nut trees and berry bushes. If that’s not enough, add beekeeping for honey, raising chickens for eggs, and keeping goats for milk. Learn how to preserve the harvest by canning or freezing, perhaps while using wind or solar power. It’s quite comprehensive.
There’s also a new 30th anniversary edition of THE NEW ORGANIC GROWER: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener by Eliot Coleman (635 CO) that will totally educate gardeners on organic theory and process. It includes greenhouse planting which leans toward commercial farming, but there’s an abundance of information about gardening in your own backyard.
By Lynette Suckow