Help me decide which gardening book?

canokieDecember 13, 2013

I have some points to redeem and below is a list of gardening books that I can get for free with my points. I'd really appreciate any suggestions as to which one would be best. I haven't read any of these books.

Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening by Greg Grant

Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by J. Howard Garret and C. Malcolm Beck

Southern Fruit & Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Harvest the Best Edibles:- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, or Tennessee by Katie Elzer-Peters

Thank you,


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Shelley,

How cool that redeeming some points will bring you a new gardening book!

I have the first two books on your list, and I think simply for that reason, I'd recommend either one of them over the third choice. I've never seen the third book and know nothing about it, so do not feel qualified to comment specifically on its content.. Based on past experience, though, I'd rather have a book geared towards Texas than towards a broader range of states because the climate in Texas and the soil types there are very similar to those in Oklahoma. Having said that, any book geared towards gardening in the southern USA usually is more helpful than one geared towards the USA as a whole, so I doubt you could go wrong with any of the three books.

It seems to me that choosing the book from this short list that seems like the best match for your interests would be your main goal. So, if you are more interested in edible gardening, then I'd recommend Greg Grant's book. I have it and I love, love, love it. On my bookshelf, it sits right beside Dr. Sam Cotner's book "The Texas Vegetable Book", which has been my go-to veggie gardening book since he wrote it, which I think was in the mid-1980s. I have yet to find any gardening book that has been more helpful to me than Dr. Cotner's book, BUT Greg Grant's book is a close second. I think Mr. Grant would be happy with my comments because he, too, has a sincere appreciate for both Dr. Cotner and Dr. Cotner's book, as you'll see when you read Mr. Grant's book.

I love Dr. Cotner's book and have long wished for a similar book that addressed the basics of growing fruit in our soils and climate. Well, Mr. Gran'ts book does include fruit, and that is one reason I love this book so much. With Greg Grant's book, you get tons of info about growing fruits and veggies, and it is written in his down-to-earth folksy style. I have read Greg Grant's articles and his regular feature column in "Texas Gardener" magazine for more years than I care to count and add up, and he is high on my list of favorite garden writers. There are not many people on this earth (or, at least not many of them writing books) that are as knowledgeable and as experienced in gardening in our part of the world as Greg Grant. You cannot go wrong with his book.

Now, about Howard Garret's and Macolm Beck's book. It also sits on my bookshelf along with other books they've written. If I was a non-organic gardener who wanted to learn more about organic gardening, I'd have to have this book. I already was mostly an organic gardener when I started listening to the Dirt Doctor's radio show in either the 1980s or 1990s, but didn't know as much about organic gardening as I wanted to know, so I have bought most of his books and read them over the years. This is a great book, written by two men who have long been at the forefront of the organic gardening movement in Texas, and I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to learn all the hows, whys and wherefores of gardening organically. For anyone in Oklahoma who is not familiar with Malcom Beck, I'd just like to say he is a Texas organic gardening legend and all his other books are well worth reading as well.

Trying to choose 1 of these 2 books over the other is painful for me because I like both books so much, so I think it all comes down to the area in which you would like to gain knowledge---Greg Grant's book will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about raising edible crops in this part of the country, and the Garrett/Beck book will tell you how and why to grow edible crops organically. One strong advantage that Mr. Grant's book has over the Garrett/Beck book simply is that it was written very recently and includes recommendations of specific varieties that are available now, whereas the Garrett/Beck book is somewhat older so it doesn't list what I consider the latest fruit and veggie varieties.

Whichever book you choose, I suspect that once you have read it, you'll want to read more books by the same author or authors, and when you do, come back here and I can recommend a few great books written by these 3 gardening experts. Sadly, Dr. Cotner is no longer with us, having passed away of complications from Alzheimer's Disease several years ago, but his book lives on. When Greg Grant wrote his book, the intent was to essentially provide updated info that covered the areas previously covered by Dr. Cotner three decades ago, and he has done exactly that---plus so much more.

When my "Texas Gardener" magazine arrives each month, the first thing I do is flip to Greg Grant's monthly column to read it. Then I read the rest of the magazine voraciously. In addition to his regular column, he also writes articles on many topics for the magazine and I have learned so much from all his writings.

And, finally, I feel compelled to mention one more book that sits on my bookshelf alongside the books by Grant, Beck and Garrett. It also was written by a long-time Texas horticulturalist/garden writer and it is "The Texas Tomato Book" by Dr. Bill Adams. Until i bought Greg Grant's book, Dr. Adam's book was my favorite "new" book on edible gardening in this area. You know how much I love tomatoes, and I strongly believe this is the best book ever written specifically on growing tomatoes (and other veggies that are their close relatives) in our region. If Dr. Adams ever writes a new book about growing fruit and veggies in this part of the country, I'll buy it the first day it hits the store shelves.

Because our climate is so challenging for gardeners, books written specifically for this region have been so much more helpful to me than books aimed at the nation as a whole, and I have a great appreciation for all the great gardening books that are geared specifically towards our region and which were written by people who have made horticulture their life's work. The regional books on my garden shelf also include Neil Sperry's books, and I had to throw that in here because of my immense respect for him.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 7:52AM
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Oh goodie, I was hoping you would answer, Dawn! :) Thank you so much for all the good info - exactly what I needed to help me make this decision. I'm going to go with Greg Grant's book, and add the Garrett/Beck book and also The Texas Tomato Book to my wish list.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 9:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You're welcome. I'm sorry it took me so long to answer, but we had Christmas parties on both Saturday and Sunday and I was busy with all that holiday stuff. I love the holidays, but they can be exhausting. I always tease Tim and tell him "I hate it when real life interferes with my gardening", and that includes when it keeps me too busy to talk about gardening!

I almost mentioned another book yesterday, but didn't because I didn't want to overload you. I'll link it below. I think you'd really enjoy this book because it is wonderful reading and very informative. FYI, I've always bought oodles of gardening books at the chain of Half-Price Book stores in Texas, and I think there now is a HPB bookstore in OKC somewhere. Half Price Books also has a website, although it is not necessarily easy to navigate. It must be difficult to catalog a constantly-changing multitude of used books. I usually see both Howard Garrett's and Malcom Beck's books in the HPB bookstores in Texas, and think you might be able to find them at the HPB website. I often can pick up gardening books on that website for a few bucks, and the older the books are, in general, the lower the price. I often find older gardening books for as low as 99 cents, although the shipping usually adds $3 or $4 dollars to the cost. Still, for books that were between maybe $15 and $40 when new, the deals at Half Price Books usually are awesome.

A person does not have to garden in Texas to enjoy the book I linked below. His gardening stories and columns are enjoyable to read no matter where one gardens.


Here is a link that might be useful: Greg Grant's Collected Essays/Columns

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:12AM
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Since gardening is an activity that requires precision, the knowledge and advice that goes with it has to be accurate too. With stress being laid on organic gardening these days, books on the subject always are proving to be a handy tool for someone who is an avid gardener. However, if you are a busy person, with little or no time for jaunts to your nearest bookstore, then purchasing Organic Gardening Books online is the next best option for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: vegetable garden

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 10:50PM
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