Several recent books offer a wealth of information for both beginners and more experienced food gardeners. Here are some examples:
"The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook" by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman (Workman, $22.95, 486 pages): A cookbook? This guide takes readers from garden to table, all aimed at helping people grow their own food and love it. Wonderful, practical tips from these longtime organic gardeners plus 120 recipes to make the most of the harvest.
"Grow This!" by Derek Fell (Rodale, $23.99, 404 pages): This book promises expert advice on how to choose the best vegetables and flowers "so you're never disappointed again." Fell, a former consultant to the White House garden, offers his picks for the most dependable performers in more than 120 categories.
"The 20-Minute Gardener: Projects, Plants and Designs for Quick and Easy Gardening" edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel (Sunset, $24.99, 288 pages): From the editors of Sunset magazine comes this Western Garden Book devoted to easy-care gardening. More ornamental than edible, these projects look great (and the photos are fantastic), but there's plenty of valuable vegetable information, too.
"All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew (Cool Springs Press, $24.99, 272 pages): second edition of this gardening classic, which has already sold more than 2 million copies. Bartholomew packs a lot of food into raised beds, one foot at a time. By thinking in square feet instead of long rows, this system is perfect for many beginners as well as experienced gardeners.
"Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Techniques to Help You Get Started" by Katie Elzer-Peters (Cool Springs Press, $21.99, 192 pages): Part of a new generation of backyard farmers, this young gardener created a go-to, how-to manual with step-by-step photo illustrations. She breaks down garden lingo and explains such mysteries as how to read the back of a seed packet or fertilizer box.
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Small-Space Gardening" by Chris McLaughlin (Alpha, $19.95, 332 pages): Master gardener McLaughlin lives in Placerville and shares many ideas on how to squeeze edibles into tight spaces including containers, balconies and window boxes.