It has become a tradition for our December column to offer up gift ideas for gardeners. Books make the very best gifts! This year ease the holiday shopping challenge by giving gardeners on your list a book. There many fantastic books available. Following are some of our favorite recommendations.

One of our first and most useful gardening books is Edward C. Smith’s, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. For someone new to food gardening, this is a great place to start. Smith’s advice is practical and helpful. He covers each crop in detail, with planting schedules and tips, growing information, and pest and disease management. This book is valuable to the novice or the veteran gardener.

Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes, the result of decades of experience cultivating and breeding tomatoes, guides readers through all aspects of growing tomatoes. From staking to disease prevention to fertilizing, as well as collecting and saving seeds, this book covers it comprehensively. Epic Tomatoes features over 200 of the best tomato varieties for the home garden. While it is beautiful enough to sit on the coffee table this work will be a much-used resource.

The ideal book for small-space and container gardeners, Container Gardening Complete by Jessica Walliser provides practical advice on cultivation, plant selection, drainage, irrigation, watering concerns and managing common pests and diseases, to inspiring projects and design. This is a great guide for all kinds of growing in containers.

Another great book is Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Vertical Vegetables and Fruit. This book will guide those short on gardening space by introducing the advantage of vertical acreage. Hart offers the how-to of making food grow up in many creative ways. Growing vertically is also helpful for those who have physical challenges that limit mobility.

Companion Planting for the Kitchen Gardener by Allison Greer explains the principles of companion planting, how plants interact, and how you can use that information to your garden’s benefit. There is an entire chapter devoted to each of the fifteen most popular vegetables, with charts, diagrams, and descriptions. The book is complemented with photography by Tim Greer.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and great gardening new year.

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