I Hope You Love These!
I consult my gardening elders many times a week. Wouldn’t you? Most of mine live in paper on my bookshelf, for nice analog reading in front of the wood stove or on the sunny porch.
Do you want to grow food?
Steve Solomon Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, and Gardening When It Counts. Get the most recent editions you can. I admire Steve’s constant learning and updating what he knows. I aspire to be a garden curmudgeon like him. His book The Intelligent Gardener is a dense but worthwhile look at the importance of soil minerals. I refer to GVWotC many, many times a season for details on plant spacing. If I had to have one garden book, it might be that one.
Carol Deppe The Resilient Gardener, The Tao of Gardening, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. Carol’s approach to growing staples for food resilience struck a chord with my food-storing heart. Her Taoist approach of “what can I not do in my garden?” Is also a plus. Cheerful, practical, tested, joyful. The plant varieties she has bred are top-notch, but I have had trouble ordering from her and can't recommend it. Get her varieties from Adaptive Seeds, Resilient Seeds, or Quail Seeds (or other open-source seed sources). Candystick Dessert delicata squash is a game changer.
Eliot Coleman is the granddaddy of organic market gardening in the NE, and The New Organic Grower has fertility and winter growing tips worth the price of the book. PLUS he got me started making soil blocks, which made my seed starting much more pleasant—no plastic pots! The seed block method also lets me do much less soil disturbance in the garden.
Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-reliant Gardening. By, surprise, Will Bonsall. Typical of books from Chelsea Green publishing company, this book is a long ramble of gardening wisdom but hard to reference for an exact piece of information. Interesting animal-free approach that answers some of the ecological questions of homesteading.
General Plant Info
Understanding Roots by Robert Kourik. Readable scientific look at how plant roots grow. Without roots, your plants won’t get very far. I haven’t read his other stuff but can’t wait to.
Seattle Tilth puts out a maritime northwest garden guide with month-by-month suggestions through the year. Good if you are just getting started in this climate.
Regenerative Soil by Matt Powers is a slightly simplified and very enthusiastic book. I wouldn’t want it as my only soil book, but it’s a good addition to the library. At least it talks about soil minerals beyond just N-P-K.
Nut and Fruit Trees
Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts by Philip Rutter, Susan Wiegrefe, and Brandon Rutter-Daywater. Okay, so this book basically gives you what you need to know for starting your own commercial hazel orchard. You might not need every tidbit in the is book but it comes from 35 years of experience. I’ve been glad to have it for my home orchard of under 50 plants. Includes a sidebar on how to have a sense of humor about all the nut jokes people will make about your crops.
Mark Shepard over at restorationag.com are worth a look. He created a 106-acre New Forest Farm in Viola, Wisconsin. His book Restoration Agriculture is good but dense. I can’t admit to making my way all the way through it.
Michael Phillips at groworganicapples.com has great books, The Apple Grower and The Holistic Orchard. But note the caution about Chelsea Green books. Hard to get a step-by-step checklist from these books, but thorough and inspiring.
Osker Brown has on YouTube on the Living Web Farms channel: “Nut Trees as Staple Crops.” I love them and have watched them multiple times. Living Web has loads of great stuff beyond Osker’s talks.
Philosophy and Inspiration
Anything by Wendell Berry. I can’t overstate what he has done for the agrarian movement in the US.
Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom. Fred Provenza. What really sold me on this book was that what he said squared with my years of watching goats forage. Plus I like the goats-to-cosmic-wonder trajectory of the book.