GROW: Favorite Books on Growing Food & Herbs
by Toby Hemenway
Gaia’s Garden became the best-selling book on permaculture in the world and is one of my favorite books about growing food and medicinal herbs. Toby died in 2016 but this book is his amazing legacy. Based on permaculture principles, a philosophy that built around the notion of working with nature not against it, the book offers inspiration, motivation, science, how-to advice and a touch of storytelling and humor.
The book is rooted in the belief that we need to build more ecological gardens that serve the needs of people who live in the cities and suburbs: “Every bit of food, every scrap of lumber, each medicinal herb or other human product that comes from an urban yard means that one less chunk of land outside the cities needs to be denuded of natives and developed for human use.”
You can read more excerpts and reviews HERE.
The book is filled with information and ideas on, design ideas, soil creation, polyculture plant guilds, food forests and plant lists. The perfect book for the small scale food gardener…or for someone who aspires to be.
by Steve Solomon
The dedication in the book warns you that your thinking will altered: “Since the time I was sent to elementary school, my feet have marched to the beat of a different drummer than Everybody’s Else’s. The difference caused me much grief as a child; much success as an adult.
This book is for Mr. and Ms. Everybody Else, who are well-known and highly respected authorities on most everything, including vegetable gardening. Most people look to Everybody Else for guidance before making any decision. It has long been my experience that Everybody Else is often wrong and needs the information in this book.”
The book introduces the basics: tools, design, seeds, watering, compost, pests and diseases and advice for on what crops to grow and more about growing food for a level of food self-sufficiency. The book is ideal for a beginning food grower. Solomon, originally from the Pacific Northwest, also wrote the popular Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades and The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient-dense Food.
The author’s voice is clearly heard throughout the book: highly opinionated, occasionally ornery and often contrarian. I happen to like that in a person so I enjoyed the book though there were multiple ideas and thoughts that I disagreed with. But the book challenges many of the modern methods of growing food and that’s the whole idea.
by Carol Deppe
This book is both “a conceptual and a hands-on gardening book for all levels of experience. She focuses on five nutrient and calorie heavy main crops: potatoes, corn, beans, squash and eggs.”
Carol Deppe works from the honest and practical perspective: life gets busy or difficult and gardens often get neglected. Her approach is rooted in her own personal limitations and her belief that each of us needs to grow some of our food.
From the introduction: “You can garden. You know how to grow food, including some staples. You may not garden every year of your life, but you at least know how. Knowing these things promotes individual personal happiness and survival - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Many great tips and ideas on growing and preserving food, minimal irrigation, keeping poultry and occasional recipes. Ideal for the new and experienced gardener. And the tired gardener.
by Tammi Hartung
An herb farmer and author of several books, Hartung has written one of the best books on growing and using herbs. From the introduction: “Growing herbs is a practical idea. It means you will have on hand the fresh herbs you need for cooking. Perhaps you want to find natural ways to support your health and would like to have a ready supply of medicinal herbs for the medicine chest. If you drink herbal teas, your goal may be to ensure that your teas are of the highest quality. And for those of us who are concerned about our budgets, growing herbs gives us the abundance of harvest at very little expense.”
This book includes garden design ideas, plant selection advice, soil needs, propagation methods, maintenance, pest & disease control, and harvest and herbal preparations. She offers an array of herb recipes and discusses over 100 herb personality profiles. The book is ideal for both new and experienced gardeners.
Sue Kusch, a former community college instructor and academic advisor, incorporates her experiential wisdom, expertise and science-based research garnered from her three decades of growing vegetables, fruit and herbs into her educational writing about plants and how people use them. In addition to her BA in Social Sciences and Masters in Education, she completed the Master Gardener training in 2011 and two permaculture courses in 2001 and 2014. She has studied medicinal and nutritional uses of herbs including studies at Herbmentor.com and East West School of Planetary Herbology since 1997. Sue currently serves as President and newsletter editor of her local chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. An avid reader, lover of historical and folkloric information, and a promising storyteller, Sue writes about the intersection of plants and people at www.plantsnpeople.com.
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter where I confess to my gardening mistakes, offer unsolicited advice on wellness, books and films and share my quirky passion for all things plants.