Credit: Watkins/Penguin Random House

Whether you or the bookworm in your life has a front-yard, backyard or a patio garden, plenty of edibles can be grown in spaces as small as a container. These 2023 books will both entertain and help grow a bounty of ingredients to inspire delicious planter-to-table meals.  

Rebel Gardening: A Beginner’s Handbook to Organic Urban Gardening,” by Alessandro Vitale (Watkins/Penguin Random House, $24.95): Although this book’s subtitle targets urban gardens, the advice provided by the author, who also owns a London tattoo studio and goes by the social media handle Spicy Moustache, is equally relevant to those gardening in any small space. Readers will learn how to grow 50 beginner plants using the cheap, chemical-free Korean natural farming techniques that allowed Vitale to avoid shopping for food for eight months. Also provided are instructions for saving seeds, creating compost and upcycling everyday objects into supplies like a self-watering pot, mini greenhouse and irrigation system. Recipes range from pickling and fermenting harvests to using them to make vegan honey with dandelions and a natural garlic antibiotic.

Credit: Laurence King Publishing

“The Edible Flower,” by Erin Bunting and Jo Facer (Laurence King, $40): This “modern guide to growing, cooking and eating edible flowers” is sure to delight anyone who enjoys fresh, organic, beautifully presented meals. Accompanied by stunning, colorful photography, the gardening cookbook includes 50 recipes developed by the authors, who live on a farm and run a “farm-to-fork” supper club in Northern Ireland. They show how to create fragrant and striking small plates, main courses, desserts, snacks, syrups and cordials using more than 40 homegrown flowers, including carnations, marigolds, pansies, lavender, lilacs and even dahlias.

Credit: Hardie Grant Publishing

“Herb Gardening Handbook: A Beginners’ Guide to Growing and Harvesting Herbs No Matter Your Space,” by Andrew Perry (Hardie Grant, $20.99): From a cocktail herb garden to a pizza pantry garden, the 12 accessible and achievable herb-growing projects in this book can be carried out in your garden, in a hanging basket or on a window ledge. You’ll learn how to select, plant, grow and use a variety of culinary herbs from the Birmingham, England-based author, who owns the U.K.-only online retailer Urban Herbs.


Credit: Hardie Grant Publishing

“The Flowerpot Forager: An Easy Guide to Growing Wild Food at Home,” by Stuart Ovenden (Hardie Grant, $20.99): Suppose the idea of foraging appeals to you, but the idea of hunting for plants in the woods (and correctly identifying which are edible) doesn’t. In that case, the author has a solution: Grow your own wild plants in containers. You’ll learn how to plant and harvest 30 wild edibles and use them to make delicacies like steamed asparagus with elderflower-
cucumber-gooseberry dressing, meadowsweet custard tarts, pink clover lemonade, dandelion salad and water mint pesto.  

Credit: Simon & Schuster

“Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden,” by Camille T. Dungy (Simon & Schuster, $28.99): This is a different kind of gardening book. It’s the memoir of a Black woman who moved her family into a predominantly white neighborhood and planted a native plant (and wildlife) sanctuary among the manicured, cookie-cutter yards in her new homeowners-
association-regulated community. The diversity in her garden is a metaphor for the diversity her family brings to the block, and the hours she spends nurturing the garden — and her daughter — define motherly love. A personal, relaxed and engaging writing style gives readers the sense they’re reading a soul-bearing letter from a dear friend who explains what she knows about compost, birds and sunflowers as she takes them along on a journey to build her hard clay soil and her place in the world.

“The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening,” by Pam Farley (Cool Springs Press, $26.99): Writing for beginner gardeners, the author, who publishes the Brown Thumb Mama website, provides everything one needs to get started — from container and site selection to choosing plants and using fertilizers and amendments when growing food in pots. Basic-but-important questions (“What does ‘full sun’ mean?” “Is there a ‘right side up’ when you plant seeds?”) are answered; gardening terms are defined; and step-by-step, photo-illustrated instructions are provided in a fun, conversational tone that educates in a down-to-Earth fashion.  

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