Organic Gardening Books - The 50 Absolute Best Gardening Books

These organic gardening books are those that have had the most profound effect on me, and I have read a lot of gardening books.

Most of them just repeat what the last one said, much of which is not great advice in my opinion (and yet somehow they become the popular ones - funny how that is).

But I'm not here to worry about that - the goal today is to give you my list of the best gardening books on my shelves.

Click for video transcription

Hey guys! It’s Phil the Smiling Gardener and I’ve just put together a list of my 50 absolute best organic gardening books, or at least my favorites.

You can check that out - if you’re not already on the website you can check those out at and I’ve put together pictures and little reviews and links to other reviews and other information on them so it’s actually a really good list. I spent a lot of time on it.

And I thought what I'd do is take my five favorite organic gardening books and just tell you a little bit about them here. So the first book is about plants and it’s called the Secret Life of Plants. Ot’s a classic book and it’s a little bit more esoteric but really good advice and it will change the way you think about plants, they’re a lot smarter than a lot of us think.

So a little bit of information on how plants can read our mind, what kind of music they like - they definitely prefer certain kinds of music and they don’t like certain kinds of music, and how they respond to being threatened either physically or even if we think about hurting them.

But there’s actually some practical information there, it’s really well researched and well footnoted and everything. So even if you’re skeptical I think you should check this book out, it is one of my favorites.

The next category is about microorganisms and the book is called Teaming with Microbes. Microbes are so important in the garden, as important as you know calcium and nutrients and this is a really great introduction to what they do in the garden, in the soil and on plants.

And more important how we can help them do their job and even bring them in through compost and compost tea and other microbial inoculants, so this is another practical book, lots of good advice but a really fun read and you'll learn a lot from this one, too.

Next category is soil, my favorite topic. I have lot of books in the list about soil that are really good, this one is definitely at the top of my list of organic gardening books because it’s a pretty easy read, it’s called The Non-Toxic Farming Handbook but it’s not just for farmers, it’s for everyone who wants to have really good soil.

Phil Wheeler uses the Albrecht and the Reams systems of soil management. Lots of information there on how to test your soil, fertilizing it and a lot of information ultimately about pest control, weed control, insect control and all that because you know you have healthy soil and healthy plants and those things don’t cause problems and, so I love that book on soil management.

Next category is permaculture, permaculture is basically a system of sustainable design and there’s a focus definitely on growing an abundance of healthy food. But it’s a design system looking at the relationships between all the elements in your garden, so you know, where do you put your compost pile and your vegetables and your chickens and how do they all relate to each other and how they can actually provide, provide things for each other such that it become a sustainable garden, a garden that pretty much takes care of itself.

So that’s kinda a quick definition of it, it’s a really good topic and this is my favorite introductory book on permaculture. It’s a lot easier to read than the Mollison books which are really good, but this is a good intro.

Next category is vegetable gardening, I’m always kinda leery of books on veggie gardening, they just never seem to do that great of a job frankly, especially when it comes to soil management.

What some of them are good at and this is one of my favorites is just giving you information on the plants and how to select them and grow them and harvest them, it has a lot of plants in it, it's presented in a really good way. I like how it’s done.

And there’s a lot of information in here on short term pest control, as well. So when you have a problem how can you get rid of it in the short term. For long term pest control you might want to read the Non-Toxic Farmin Handbook and other soil books.

And the book in the next category which is just general organic gardening, what’s my favorite general book and that is Working with Nature which was written by my friend Heide Hermary, founder of Gaia college. It’s more of a textbook so it's more expensive, but it's bigger too and it just really, it brings all of these other disciplines together.

A lot of information on soil management and water management. Again more on soil testing and fertilizers. There's a great chapter on energy on the garden and radionics and just really cool stuff, the future of gardening in my opinion, and the overall book is just about creating health in the garden such that you don’t have any pest problems and you have healthy food and healthy people and definitely one of the best gardening books.

So those are my top I guess six I have in here and if you want to check all 50 go to and that is all for today so until next time keep your eye on the soil and remember to smile.

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