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I only started gardening last summer and throughly enjoyed the trials and errors I had however this year I really want to get stuck in learn about everything I can. I have tried researching on the internet but I find I get mixed answers and different information. Can anyone recommend a book etc... That will give me all the advice and information I need to become a good gardener. I am very interested in growing vegetables..please help!
Terence Jones

There are a multitude of books on veg gardening available, try your local library,

First priority:- Assuming you growing in garden soil rather than containers, I would suggest that you aquire a soil test kit from a garden center and test your soil pH level. This will give you a good guide to what type of plants are best suited to your plot and if a lime dressing is required before you start. There is no point in trying to grow plants that prefer a high pH on an acid soil, or the reverse.

I have myself made a list of vegetables that I would like to grow and did an online www search working down ther list one at a time i.e. "growing Broad Beans", "growing Cabbage", etc, etc. You can then look through the search results using copy and paste to create your own computer notes for reference. Bear in mind that growing Tomatoes in Scotland and Cuba will require different techniques due to climate, but can be done. I have found a lot of information on the web that has proved beneficial. Seed suppliers can be another useful source of information.

Good luck


That is very helpful. I will invest in the soil test kit today while I have a day off Much appriciated MissB

Join your local horticultural association and you will get tried and tested advice from people with similar soil to yours. Charges are usually about £5 per year , which won't break anybody's bank.

Somewhat more expensive, but very worthwhile is becoming a member of the Royal Horticultural Society this is about £40+ per year for an individual member. They had a huge campaign in 2011 about "growing your own" friut and veg that is. Apart from free entry into the 4 gardens (unfortunately all located in England) you will have the advice of world renowned experts which can be given by e-mail.

Hope this helps.


A quick Google for advice is very useful, but sometimes it's nice to flick through paper pages and I recommend the RHS Step-by-step Gardening Techniques, also their Allotment Handbook. Some advice from a new gardener - don't get bogged down in reseach. We moved last March to a house with a big garden and the more I read the more I found out how little I knew, so kept putting off taking the first steps till suddenly it was May.

I went to a nursery and bought cheap (it being so late in the season) seed potatoes, onion sets, leeks, a courgette plant, a butternut squash plant, 20 spinach beet plants and 4 runner bean plants. I stuck them in the ground, watered them daily till they were established and everything grew like triffids! (I was very lucky on the pest front, maybe because the soil is acid/sandy, on the edge of a heath?) Even the spinach beet and lettuce from seed did really well. The usual advice is to grow food that's expensive rather than cheap to buy, but I got huge satisfaction from feeding my family of four with my own cheap & seasonal produce every day for months. Good luck!



the flower expert by Dr..D.G Hessayon,and read up to chapter 4 at first this is the best way to learn the basics.The vegatable and herb expert by Dr D G Hessayon.You will find these books an investment.available at w h smith,and used copies and new are sold on amazon.I would not be without these books!

Emma Crawforth

I would also like to add my vote for the Dr. Hessayon books. They are really practical and one of the best things about them is that they often use the names that you'll find in your local garden centre or nursery. So you won't be wandering around with a complicated scientific name in your head that many people working in the industry have never heard of!

Also you can often find old editions in charity shops and bargain book stores. I always buy one if I see a cheap edition of one that is not already in my library.

Emma. team

Adam Pasco

It would be remiss of me not to recommend Gardeners' World Magazine, as we always include plenty of information on Growing Your Own, and evenb have a free packet of Tomato Maskotka seed coming with the April issue (along with free fragrant sweet peas).

We're also publishing a 'Grow Your Own' bookazine in March, along with an iPad version, which is looking stunning!

I agree that David Hessayon's Vegetable Expert book is one I regularly turn to, and usually has the advice (crop spacing, sowing time or depth, etc) that I'm looking for. Some of the seed company web sites also have very good 'at-a-glance' growing guides.

Was there any specific advice you can't find, Lisa?

I'm an enthusiastic novice that's been veg growing with varying success for several years. I went to the local library and tried out various books, I recommend you do this before buying. I've found many gardening books heavy going but have to say Alan Titchmarsh how to garden range are fab and easy to follow.  I have to agree with Adam the GW mag is pretty good too. My Dad gets me a subscription each year for my birthday. I cut out and keep the articles on veg I grow. The main seed sellers have advice on their web pages too. They can be expensive so I shop around but often use their growing instruction's! The web site is pretty good too.

<h2>I was givenThe RHS " Encyclopedia of Gardening"as a present, it is a treasure trove and it has answered all my queries. I also have all the main D.G . Hessayon books and would endorse their value to the new gardener, especially "Vegetable and Herb Expert" which really has everything you need to know,  almost at a glance.  Sorry about the Bold cannot get rid of it!</h2>
Deanos Diggin It

Hi Lisa! I find a subcription to various magazines does the trick!! Timely expert advise n all the tips n tricks from the guys n gal's who have been doing this Gardening lark for years!! Yeah! Me like yourself have been "bitten by the bug" a long drawn out sad story as to how it came about! But hey!! n as Mumjumbo says, Don't get too bogged down in theory at this early stage!  Go get ya hands dirty! Take the basics, n above all else, have fun!!! 

I have gardeners world magazine paid for using Tesco vouchers, which means I haven't had to spend any money. The articles and advice are appropriate to the season so it tells you what to do that month in clear steps with lots of pictures so you know what you're aiming at.

Eddie J

Another vote for the Dr. Hessayon books. Just enough info without baffling you with detail. Worth every penny.

The soil test kit is a another brilliant idea, sadly though through my own experience the kits seem very hit and miss. Two test kits from the same manufacturer can give differing results.

A Gardeners World back to back test feature would be good.

Sue 2

If you use a soil test kit take the soil from a few inches down to use. When ur buying plants in ur local garden centre, try asking the staff for advice. Alot of them are probably very knowagable & enthusiastic gardeners. Gardeners World mag & web site is full of good advice.


Do a search on Amazon for second hand books, or TKmax, I picked up Green Gardening & The RHS Encylopedia there for less than £20 for the two.  Have to say though, I've taped every episode of Gardener's World & keep them for over the winter months & rewatch them all before I ditch them.  Between that and the magazine I've learned buckets & if you just put in to practice a few things you've learned every season you'll soon be an expert yourself!

I am a very new and very novice gardener.  I am not sure where to start and any help and advise would be very welcome.  I am thinking of growing herbs and veg in containers to start with.


My advice is try the easy things first.  Usually tried and tested to be easy.  Dont spend too much trying everything because in my experience, it all becomes too much and you are overfaced with it all.  We have had courgettes, carrotts in pots/planters, tomatoes, potatoes in tubs and herbs.  All very successful.  This has boosted the confidence to try some others.  Last year we had kohl rabi and the pigoens had cabbage, cauliflower and celeriac not to mention the beetroot..... We did have some beans but there werent that many.  I would rather have success at a few than lose most because either I cant afford all the different ways to stop the pesky pigeons or because its too dry or I havent had enough time..... so to sum up:

try easy to grow veg to get some confidence

build up the knowledge and the skills base

dont try everything at once

and most of all enjoy watching your produce grow and enjoy picking it fresh to eat

good luck

Sahira Ward

Hi Boxstergirl

Have a look at www.charlesdowding no dig gardening fantastic website wished I'd found it years ago. Good luck

I buy GW magazine too, but equally I good read it for nothing at my local library, where there are numerous gardening books; all free to read or borrow. Buy a copy if you find them helpfull and want a permanent reference.

AND join your local gardening clubs, and talk to people.