For gardeners, winter is a time of reflection, research and reading, so give your favorite gardener the gift of a bountiful book this Christmas to help inspire the coming season. We've rounded up the 7 best books for gardening, ranging from informative guides, to personal journeys, manuals and insights on the relationship between growing food and cooking it. Remember to stick in some seed packets for bookmarks.
1. "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)" by Angela England
Perfect for the suburban or urban gardener, this essential guide offers all the basics on sustainable living from how to raise and harvest your own fruits and vegetables to caring for chickens, dairy animals, bees and much more. The author has personally planned and run a successful small-scale farm, so the tips come from a seasoned gardener that has awesome advice on choosing crops, growing them sustainably and utilizing the space you have, no matter how small.
2. "Botany for Gardeners" by Brian Capon
This information rich and detail heavy reference includes everything a home gardener could want to know about backyard botany and even beyond. The updated edition contains an appendix on plant taxonomy and a comprehensive index, alongside brilliant illustrations and photos for easy identification. Conveniently sized, this paperback can follow its owner out to the garden or CSA plot!
3. "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation" by Michael Pollan
Bestselling author and botanist Michael Pollan delves into the world of the kitchen in this exploration of transforming the goods of nature into food and drink for our sustenance. The author records his apprenticeships with various master chefs in this investigation on the origins and stories behind the different foods we eat, showing that by reclaiming the act of cooking and using fresh ingredients from our own backyard we can change the unhealthy American food system. Perfect for a gardener-chef type, or anyone interested in the politics of food.
4. "From the Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love and the Movement That's Changing the Nation" by Jeanne Nolan
This beautiful and inspiring story chronicles the author's journey from city dweller to one of the leaders of the sustainable food movement. It's a journey through Nolan's life--from the 17 years she spent in a communal living situation to her successful urban gardening projects that prove how possible it is to grow vegetables practically anywhere. The author shares her insights on the societal and environmental benefits of organic gardening and offers practical tips for growing food, whether in our backyards, school yards, rooftops or even fire escapes.
5. "The Manual of Seed Saving: Harvesting, Storing and Sowing Techniques for Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits" by Andrea Hesitinger
Anyone interested in heirloom vegetable, fruit and herb varieties will appreciate this book, as it is the ideal guide for learning how to preserve botanical heritage in your own backyard. Heistinger provides practical knowledge for saving seeds of popular plants like asparagus, carrots, corn spinach, squash and tomatoes, with critical information on pollination, cultivation, isolation distances, harvest, storage, diseases and pests for each plant included. Her work is supported by extensive research from global conservation organizations, and is truly a gem for food growers that understand the importance of plant diversity and optimal growing conditions.
6. "The Drunken Botanist" by Amy Stewart
Have a budding beer brewer, vintner, or distiller in your family? They will LOVE this amazing drink recipe book that quenches the thirst for knowledge on how to craft your very own, organic and tasty concoctions. Stewart explores the world of fermentation through an array of fruits, fungi, trees, herbs and flowers that have been ingeniously, or sometimes accidentally, transformed into appetizing alcoholic beverages. Give this New York Times Bestseller alongside a card offering your official tasting services!
7. "To Eat: A Country Life" by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd
This book is a gorgeous story of Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd's life on their Vermont homestead turned internationally acclaimed cultivation spot that shares the path food travels from the garden to the table. A wonderful guide for both gardeners and cooks alike, this informative, humorous and idiosyncratic book offers delectable delights on gardening techniques, plant history, recipes from renowned chef Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta and wisdoms of the land.