MY FAVORITE REFERENCE BOOKS:
Mary Appelhof, Worms Eat My Garbage: How to set up and maintain a worm composting system (2nd ed.). Flowerfield Enterprises, LLC, 1997.
A step-by-step guide to building and maintaining a worm bin. A checklist with reference pages precedes the text, so you can skip around, depending upon your knowledge level. I’ve seen other books that cover this subject, but are confusing and intimidating. Appelhof does a great job of making it doable.
Howard Garrett, Texas Organic Gardening: The Total Guide to Growing Flowers, Trees, Shrubs, Grasses, and Food Crops the Natural Way. Lone Star Books, 1993.
This book emphasizes trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers as well as herbs and wildflowers. It does spend some time on vegetables and other edibles. Some duplication with the other book on organic growing, but if you grow ornamentals, this is the reference guide for our area.
Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck, Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Total Guide to Growing Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Other Edible Plants the Natural Way. Lone Star Books, 1999.
Howard Garrett is The Dirt Doctor (www.dirtdoctor.com) and located in North Texas; Malcolm Beck is lauded as a compost guru in south Texas, and founder of Garden-Ville Fertilizer Company. This is a dynamite reference for gardening – it covers soil preparation, organic fertilization, disease and pest control, what varieties to plant and when, and the basics of each plant.
Toby Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009.
Hemenway provides a gentle introduction to permaculture and explains how to garden with an eye to the micro-environment of the garden. He pollinators as well as introducing the reader to keyhole gardens, food forests and hugelkultur – all aspects of mimicking nature in one’s gardening.
Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis, Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web. Timber Press, 2010.
This is an easy-to-read introduction to the soil’s microbiology. The first half of the book talks about the science, and the second half applies this to the soil food web and the importance of compost, mulch, compost teas and mycorrhizal fungi.
Joel Karsten, Straw Bale Gardens: The Breakthrough Method for Growing Vegetables Anywhere, Earlier and with No Weeding. Cool Springs Press, 2013.
Straw bales provide a way of gardening for renters in a temporary situation, a site that only has sun on pavement, and for folks who either have no real time to garden in the ground or for whom bending and digging are difficult. The concepts are great, however Karsten does not use an organic program. I have been experimenting with straw bale gardens and use organic materials to condition my bales. The results for a spring-summer garden were astounding, and as I write I am working on a winter garden in bales.
Louise Riotte, Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Storey Communications, Inc., 1975.
This is an easy reference to companion planting. Riotte writes, “Plants that assist each other to grow well, plants that repel insects, even plants which repel other plants – are all of great practical use.
WEBSITES THAT ARE HELPFUL:
Gardening with children:
These are great references for just anything having to do with gardening and especially with children. Edible Schoolyard was started by Alice Waters (founder of Chez Panisse in San Francisco, and referred to as Alice’s Restaurant). Waters is an advocate for healthy, local food.
For organic gardening in general, look to Howard Garrett: www.dirtdoctor.com . He has lots of lists, articles and guidance for free.
Baker Creek Seeds http://www.rareseeds.com
Renee’s Garden http://www.reneesgarden.com
Botanical Interests https://botanicalinterests.com
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange http://www.southernexposure.com