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Urban gardeners face some special challenges, the biggest of which is lack of space. These 25 gardening books cover all the bases to build the beginner urban gardener’s confidence. I’ve assembled a collection that covers general gardening knowledge, companion planting, composting, small space gardening, and more.

Also, I couldn’t resist adding a few just for my Canadian readers. When you’re done, check out my list of the 25 best gardening books for prairie gardeners or anyone in USDA hardiness Zones 2 or 3.

General Gardening Knowledge

How to Create a New Vegetable Garden by Charles Dowding

A great place to start and figure out the ins and outs of vegetable gardening.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith

Companion Planting

Roses Love Garlic by Louise Riotte

Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louis Riotte

Vegetables Love Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler

Square Foot, Vertical, & Container Gardening

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

This book is arguably considered the bible of square foot gardening.

Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell

Learn how to grow up, not out and grow beautiful produce in small spaces.

Container Gardening by the Editors of Fine Gardening

The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith

Because you know that part of your garden is going to be in pots on your patio.

Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan

Trelises, Planters, & Raised Beds by the Editors of Cool Springs Press

Get some out-of-the-box ideas for all your container gardening. (I couldn’t resist that pun.)

Plan the Perfect Garden

Get your free Garden Planner and worksheets and start creating the garden of your dreams.

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Curious about how much your urban garden could produce in a year? Check out my results! When you’re done, see how my friends turned an unused side yard into a successful urban garden.

Unique Urban Gardens

The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone

While this idea may be a bit of a stretch for most of you reading this post, I think the idea of using unused backyards for vegetable gardening is a fabulous one. Though I don’t personally want to make a business out of it as Stone suggests, I would like an extra yard or two to grow my pumpkins and squash.

Groundbreaking Food Gardens by Niki Jabbour

This is not your average gardening book. Explore unusual gardens that will have you re-thinking how you want to landscape next year. There’s a different kind of garden for every kind of gardening.

Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer

Lots of cities have edible wild plants growing by neighbouring lakes, rivers, or park areas. Now you can be the one to point out (and eat!) the wild strawberries.


Composting for a New Generation by Michelle Balz

I try my best to compost, but I know I could be doing more. This book is a big inspiration to do so!

Chemical-Free Gardening

Attracting Beneficial Bugs by Jessica Walliser

Gardening, Naturally by Sara Williams

While this book is intended for Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, there’s lots of information that can be applied to other regions.

Organic Gardening by Charles Dowding

Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza

For all of you wanting to try lasagna gardening.

Year-Round Urban Gardening

Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman

Because it’s possible to have a harvest way longer than 3 months.

Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by Jennifer Kujawski

It’s really handy to have everything laid out week by week, especially when things get busy in late summer.

Indoor Kitchen Gardening by Elizabeth Millard

Apartment dwellers rejoice! This one is for you.

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour

Books About Canning

There are so many amazing canning books out there, it’s hard to narrow it down! Here are two good choices to get you started.

Complete Canning Guide by Better Homes & Gardens

The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes by Amy Bronee

Just for Canadian Urban Gardeners

Guide to Canadian Vegetable Gardening by Douglas Green

Growing Food in a Short Season by Melanie Watts

There you have it! 25 books to get you through the cold of winter while you dream about your garden. Need a resource for buying plants? I’ve compiled a list of 35+ seed and gardening companies, plus links to the complete list of all the garden/seed companies in both Canada and the US.

And if you’re looking to add one more title to your list, check out my Growing Roots Gardening Guide to transform you from garden newbie to confident gardener.

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Grow roots with us



Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!