Since I’m essentially new to gardening—unless you count years of helping out with the impatiens and rhododendrons at home as a kid—I’ve been looking into books about gardening. My initial search turned up two solid options related directly to gardening in Massachusetts, both of which I ordered: The Massachusetts Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Gardening from the Berkshires to the Islands (Barbara Gee) and The Boston Globe Illustrated New England Gardening Almanac (Carol Stocker). Later, I also stumbled across a used copy of The New Gardener (Pippa Greenwood) in a local independent bookstore, the Brookline Booksmith. I’ve finished Massachusetts Gardener’s Companion already, and it will definitely be a great reference for when I have the opportunity to get a community garden plot. The chapters on soil and vegetable gardening were especially interesting to me, but each chapter has tons of useful information.
The New England Gardening Almanac mixes short essays on various topics (e.g., designing a moon garden) with week-by-week advice on what to do with various parts of your garden. From what I’ve skimmed, I think the advice in here will be really useful, but I also see myself using this book as a source of inspiration and ideas for things I’d like to try. The abundance of pictures helps, but the chronological (rather than topical) arrangement of the book encourages a different kind of browsing.
Quite possibly the best place to start, however, is The New Gardener, which really is about as basic a book about gardening you could ask for. It, too, is littered with pictures, and the brief sections cover the basics of gardening tools, garden layout and design, paving and path making, and growing specific kinds of plants and under specific conditions. The main reason I purchased this one, though, is the chart on growing some common vegetables and the appendix on garden pests, including what the damage looks like and how to fight back. It’s definitely the most basic of the three books I found, but some of these things will prove really valuable.
Next, I’ll be looking for books on specific types of gardening (e.g., flowers versus vegetables), and collections of plants (I do have an Audubon field guide to North American wildflowers, but I’m aiming for something geared toward selecting and growing plants rather than identifying them). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to have another reason to peruse used bookstores. There are bound to be some hidden gems.