Urban gardening is an increasingly popular solution for anyone looking for live a bit more sustainably in the city. Growing our own veggies, fruits and herbs allows city dwellers to have more control over the source of their foods and depend less on grocery stores and processed food. Gardens also bring beauty, wildlife and serenity to the hectic atmosphere of urban life and can provide much needed solace and peace for the people who tend them. These books show that you do not have to have a lot of land, or any land at all, to produce beautiful plants and food at home.
Our top five picks for the best urban gardening books cover the basics of how to start your own garden or farm in the city, from inspiration and planning your garden to planting, maintaining and harvesting your crop.
1. ‘Urban Gardening: How to Grow Food in Any City Apartment or Yard No Matter How Small’ by Will Cook
Will Cook provides an excellent introductory course in urban gardening in this book. He goes over multiple different techniques that can be applied in almost any small-space situation, including container gardening, vertical gardening, aeroponics, rooftop gardening and more. This book focuses not only on inner city gardening for apartment dwellers, but also goes into detail on techniques and ideas for people with small yards or abandoned city lots to work with. The 14 chapters in this book review everything you need to know to start your urban garden, from designing and choosing seeds to plant care, insect solutions, starting seeds and harvest.
- Great overview for beginners
- Reviews multiple different techniques
- Each section includes action steps and photos
- The book is short so doesn’t go into great detail
- No new information for experienced gardeners
- Reviewers mentioned grammatical errors
Find more Urban Gardening: How To Grow Food In Any City Apartment Or Yard No Matter How Small information and reviews here.
2. ‘Urban Farm Handbook: City Slicker Resources for Growing, Raising, Sourcing, Trading, and Preparing What You Eat’ by Annette Cottrell
Annette Cottrell’s focus in this book is to teach city dwellers how to gradually wean themselves off of commercial supermarkets towards a more self-sustaining and fresh grown lifestyle. This book is highly praised for its use of not only how-to instructions but stories, charts, grocery lists, recipes and calendars. The Urban Farm handbook is almost 400 pages long and is divided into four sections: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. This book details not only how to grow your own vegetable garden in the city, but also discusses other sustainable lifestyle DIY projects such as raising small animals for meat and making your own soap and beauty products.
- Very well organized
- Almost 400 pages, lots of detail
- Detailed how-tos and instructions
- Focused only on the Pacific Northwest
- Does not focus only on gardening
- Some reviewers found too much focus on animals, not enough on plants
3. ‘Small-Space Container Gardens: Transform Your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage, and Herbs’ by Fern Richardson
Container gardening is one of the easiest ways for people living in the city to start a garden. In Small Space Container Gardens, Fern Richardson inspires us to look past the typical city balcony decorations of AstroTurf and plastic chairs and invites us to explore a more colorful and practical use for small outdoor spaces. The 9 chapters in this book go over many of the topics that are in the forefront of small-space gardeners’ minds, with advice on choosing colors, plants and containers as well as working with your climate, attracting wildlife, different types of plants, using plants to create private spaces, dealing with pests and creating a vertical garden.
Buy Small-Space Container Gardens: Transform Your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage, and Herbs here.
- Goes into detail on one technique, container gardening
- Contains inspiring color photographs of urban gardens
- Teaches you how to attract wildlife
- Not much focus on edible plants
- No photos of specific plants, insects or pests
- Offers some suggestions with no follow through
Find more Small-Space Container Gardens: Transform Your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage, and Herbs information and reviews here.
4. ‘The Edible Balcony: Growing Fresh Produce in Small Spaces’ by Alex Mitchell
The Edible Balcony is written by long time urban gardener Alex Mitchell, an expert on the subject of growing lots of great food in small spaces. This book takes sustainable gardening one step further by teaching you how to plant, grow and water your plants as sustainable as possible in order to ensure a successful harvest any season out of the year. This book includes step by step instructions on designing, planting and maintaining your garden, but also includes fun projects such as constructing your own pots and plant supports. This book has sections on the easiest plants to grow for beginners, making your garden personal to you, how to make your crops work hard so you don’t have to, and Eco-friendly practices such as rainwater collection and worm farming. The Edible Balcony is an excellent resource for anyone looking to live more sustainably in the city.
- Focuses on sustainability overall
- Projects include step by step instructions
- Lots of original projects and ideas
- Not very long
- Does not go through the entire process as thoroughly as some other books
- Best suited to someone with a bit of experience
5. ‘Urban Farms’ by Sarah Rich
Urban Farms is an inspiring book that details 16 urban farms across the U.S. Some farms are owned and operated by individuals or families, while others are a community wide effort. Sarah Rich goes into great detail about the urban farming movement and how it is changing the face of cities such as Oakland, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and more. It includes inspiring stories as well as beautiful full color photographs of each farm. While this book does not go into details on the how-to aspect of starting a farm or garden in the city, it is a great resource for inspiration and general information on the topic.
- Inspiring stories
- Gorgeous full color photos
- Great coffee table book
- No how-tos or instructions
- Focus is on larger scale farming, not gardening
- Good for inspiration, not for practical use