Why Gardening Books Won’t Help You to Start Your Garden (And How to Get Started)

Posted on Jun 13 2012 - 1:54am by Mike Lieberman

Let me know if this story sounds familiar to you…

You became interested in growing your own food because you want to know where your food is coming from.

You wanted to learn more, so you got a stack of books to read and spent hours researching on the internet.

All you have to show now is a headache and feel completely overwhelmed. You don’t feel any closer to starting your garden than before all the research.

I know it does because you have told me this. There is a better solution.

I know this feeling too..

…because that’s exactly where I was a few years ago when I first became interested in growing my own food.

I knew that I wanted to grow some of my own food and wasn’t sure how to even get started. After going to the library, I came home with a stack of books.

I couldn’t make it more than 10-pages in any of them. They were horribly
b-o-r-i-n-g. There was nothing that spoke to me and what I was looking for.

There are no gardening books for those that don’t want to be professional gardeners.

There are no gardening books for those that don’t want to be professional gardeners. — Tweet This

No gardening books for those that don’t want to create an “award-winning container garden.”

There was nothing for the person who wants to have a container or two and not dedicate their life to it.

Nearly all the books are geared towards those that have experience and lots of space and time.

Why this site was created

That is the main reason that Urban Organic Gardener was started. It was to give you simple, practical and actionable advice to start your garden.

Speaking of which, here are some posts to help you get started:

  • How many plants per container. When planning and planting your container garden, it’s important to know how much of each plant you can fit in each container.

Those are some simple and easy to follow tips.

Your turn

Click one of the share buttons to share with your friends and family, then I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. If you want me to walk you through the step-by-step process of getting your garden started, sign-up to learn more about my online training course, Fall Gardening 101, to help you get your fall garden started.

Image courtesy of Annie Mole on Flickr.

24 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. me June 13, 2012 at 8:24 am -

    There is one really good book on the market that is geared to container vegetable gardeners- The Bountiful Container by McGee and Stuckey. I do agree that most gardening books are boring and don’t address small space gardening very well. I found it was better to have a reference library to  look up things as I need to as opposed to reading the books cover to cover. The rest is a learn as you grow it deal in my opinion.

  2. Mike Lieberman June 13, 2012 at 11:01 am -

    I’ve checked that one out. It’s more like an encyclopedia than a book.

  3. Erica DeSimone June 15, 2012 at 3:43 am -

    Wow, actually I found a ton of books that were very helpful and interesting to read. I do have a few that are more professional on hand for reference. Grow Great Grub and the Bountiful Container were both instant buys for me (after reading them at the library). 

  4. Brenda June 15, 2012 at 10:13 am -

    It will be nice to have another resource for organic gardening, especially for those who are just starting out and need the basics. There is a wealth of information online, from natural insect control to which seeds need soaking in order to sprout. I look forward to more information from Urban Organic Gardener.

    “Backyard Harvest,” by Jo Whittingham is my gardening bible.  It is set up month by month and shows what to start from seeds, what to plant out, what to harvest, and reminds you to tend to the details to keep your garden going year-round.  

  5. Mike Lieberman June 17, 2012 at 12:49 am -

    I’ve found the complete opposite. Glad you found something that interested you!

  6. Mike Lieberman June 17, 2012 at 12:49 am -


  7. Erica DeSimone June 17, 2012 at 4:21 am -

    I kind of figured that when you wrote an article entitled, “Why Gardening Books Won’t Help You.” Everyone learns differently, I personally can’t stand watching how-to videos or slideshows, but I’d spend all day reading the same material.

  8. Deanna June 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm -

    I have a lot of those “written for professionals” books and textbooks – I got my degree in Horticulture…and I still find that gardening is trial and error a lot of the time depending on your climate, what you’re growing, etc., etc….and they didn’t teach us much about organic gardening…so I still have a LOT to learn!

  9. Gardenyourcity June 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm -

    Well Mike, As the author of the book (I think you have a copy!) I wrote, Garden Your City, I highly disagree! 

  10. Cccquilter June 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm -

    It is familiar to me. I love to read and do research, but so many different books with differing advice and views. And yes, some were yawners. Some had very helpful advice and I will be looking up some of the books mentioned here. The ones I have found helpful were ones that dealt with urban homesteading.

  11. Dani Massey June 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm -

    Not ALL of them are boring, but there are a LOT of books out there and I have to agree the majority of them are for the experienced gardener or at least for the established garden. I have found two that weren’t too overwhelming “The Square-Foot Gardener” which helped me break out of the mentality that all gardens have to be in rows, and  “Backyard Harvest” helped me realize that not all ‘landscaping’ has to be ornamental only. Now, if I have to tend it, water it, weed it, or move it, I better be able to eat it or love it. I have to container garden now, not because I don’t have space, but because I can’t kneel/squat anymore. So now I am much more picky about what I add to my home’s ‘curb appeal’. 🙂

  12. Candice June 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm -

     Have you read “How to Grow World-Record Tomatoes” by Charles H. Wilber? If not it’s about organically growing lots of tomatoes. Personally I couldn’t put it down from the first page till I finished it, and it wasn’t terribly long and encyclopedic. There were only two pages about how to apply his method of tomato growing to containers, which he said would reduce yields but it would be more than normal even then. There’s another book I am waiting for from my local library and that’s “How to Grow More Vegetables” by John Jeavons, do you know it? I found out about these on a gardening blog that is about organic gardening.

  13. Johanna June 18, 2012 at 6:31 am -

    Thanks for jump-starting the motivation train again, Mike! This was a great post.

  14. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:29 am -

    Word. Glad you likes and can get motivated!

  15. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:30 am -

    I’ve yet to find a gardening book that I wanted to keep reading. Glad that you found some that resonated with you.

  16. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:31 am -

    The ones that I’ve read are def not page turners 😉

  17. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:31 am -

    Nice. I never found one that spoke to me, my needs and situation.

  18. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:32 am -

    I figured that you would. All good!

  19. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:33 am -

    Dont’ we all! Def lots of trial and error, but some basic fundamental steps to follow to make it simple when starting.

  20. Dani Massey June 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm -

    I agree, they aren’t exactly ‘Made for Movies’ material, but I have to admit that when I am looking at the bugs or diseases it becomes more like a ‘who done it.’ 🙂 I would not sit down and read any horticulture book, professional or newbie, from cover to cover. Too much chemistry talk and such. What we really need is one written in layman’s terms. I don’t want to read about Acidic vs Base soil. I want to read “Put A, B, or C in your garden when you till to balance the soil so you get good harvest.” I don’t need the chemical breakdown of WHY I need that. 🙂
    Just tell me what I need so I can get on with it, already. The two I mentioned were the closest to that I could find. But we need something simplified for the beginner. Hey, I know this guy, name’s Mike Lieberman, he makes these wonderful , understandable videos…….maybe he will write a book?? (Just sayin’, Ya know? LOL)

  21. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm -

    No book for me right now. I’m working on the Fall Gardening 101 course instead 😉

  22. Dani Massey June 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm -

    Very well said, Mike. 🙂 Go get ’em. I shall be waiting almost patiently to see it!

  23. Gardenyourcity June 21, 2012 at 3:43 am -

    Well Mike, there is a reason I disagreed.

    You said, “There are no gardening books for those that don’t want to be professional gardeners.No gardening books for those that don’t want to create an “award-winning container garden. There was nothing for the person who wants to have a container or two and not dedicate their life to it.

    Nearly all the books are geared towards those that have experience and lots of space and time.”

    I wrote Garden Your City exactly for the person who thinks they can’t garden and can – the how’s and where’s are all there. I am not going to beat a dead horse, but that is exactly why I took two years of my life to write it! LOL!

  24. Mike Lieberman June 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm -

    Let’s agree to disagree.

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