Garden Books Galore

I have a confession to make, I am an addict.  Plants, seeds, and books.  Lots of books, and most recently garden books.  135 in all right now.  How many are sitting in my Amazon cart or waiting to be moved to the cart from my wish list…at least 20 garden books.  The topics range from veg gardening, to perennials, sustainable gardening, composting, native plants, organic gardening, birds, bees, containers and philosophical gardening books.  And those are just the ones I can think of at this moment.

So when Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys announced a new meme the 20th of every month, Garden Book Review, I was more than enthusiastic.  I have books that must be read.  Some I flip through as a reference and others that I have in a pile, “To Be Read” (TBR).

It was easy to pick my first book to review.  With my winter gardening obsession being seeds, I chose a recently purchased seed growing book.


Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step Techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs (Gardening Skills Illustrated)

or simply–

Seed Sowing and Saving

by Carole B. Turner
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (January 2, 1998)
List Price:  $ 19.95
Amazon Price:  $13.57 (Paperback)


In a Few Words:   You will learn everything you need to know about starting flower and vegetable seeds indoors and out; keeping them going and planting them outdoors.  Once the plants are growing you can then learn how to harvest seeds, dry them and store them.  Here are the main sections of the book:

  1. Sowing Seeds
  2. From Seed to Bloom
  3. Selecting Plants for Seed Saving
  4. Collecting and Storing Seeds
  5. Annual Vegetables
  6. Biennial and Perennial Vegetables
  7. Annual Flowers
  8. Biennial and Perennial Flowers


What I Loved:  This is a how-to book that has over 300 great illustrations.   Mixed in with every topic and section are Master Gardening Tips and Hints for Success set off in boxes so you won’t miss them.  I strongly suggest you read all the hints and tips.  These have some of the best information found in the book.

When I first received this book, I quickly read through the whole book to get a feel for the information it contains, and there is lots crammed into this book.  Then I started at the beginning to make sure I learned everything I needed to know about seed starting:  timing, soil, containers, heat, light, watering, pricking out, hardening off and on and on.  Each of these topics has its own section chock full of useful info and hints.

Once I am ready, I will start looking at each of the flower and vegetable pages that correspond to those I will be growing from seed indoors and then outdoors.  Lastly will be the seed saving section.  There is so much info in this book, I don’t want to miss a single word.  I can already see this book with little post-it notes hanging out of important starred pages.  It will be a well worn and used resource.


Not So Much:  The only thing I can say that is a negative (and it really isn’t a negative) is there is too much information, if that is even possible.  It is not a bad thing just be forewarned.  I did not find it overwhelming, and it is an especially good resource for a beginning gardeners and any gardener with some knowledge of the topic.  If you are a master gardener with good knowledge of growing and saving seed this may not be a book for you.


Final Thoughts:  What really put this book over the top for me were all the appendices in the back as well as the many resources cited both in books and on the web.  There is also a Glossary and an Index which are essential for a great reference or instructional book.  I saw they have other books in the series; Pruning Made Easy and Secrets to Great Soil.  I may have to check out the pruning book.  Another skill I do not possess.


Special Note:  Books reviewed here at Gardens Eye View were purchased by me and were not gifts from publishers.


The Great Herb and Seed Experiment Update

I used the book I reviewed above to get me started on the right foot with regards to growing seeds.  I have to say it really has me thinking differently and paying attention to things like planting depth and watering.  I have little knowledge of sowing seeds, and let’s face it I have been lucky up until now.  I am hoping to master this skill with lots of practice.  So here is how I planted my greens:

1.  I like to reuse containers from salad greens sold in the grocery store.  They have lids which are useful for germination.  When planting lots of greens, I really like the lasagna pan.  I poke holes in the bottoms of the containers for good drainage.  The best part about the containers I use is they are reusable.
2.  I opted for a potting mix that I found last year; Wonder Soil Potting Soil.  The beauty of  this soil is it is lightweight and you add water to hydrate it.  It contains a mix of coconut coir, worm castings, mycorrhizae biosoil, kelp, and biodegradable water-absorbing polymers.  It comes in a bag so you can measure out how much you want to mix with water.  A little goes a long way and that is good because it is expensive.
3.  I used a ruler as directed by the book to smooth the soil, make planting furrows and check the planting depth…check!
4.  I am getting better about planting in rows and not too close together.
5.  I put the containers in tubs so I could easily water from the bottom.  This is best to prevent the dreaded Damping Off Disease.
6.  Next I placed tubs on heat mats.  I had 2 small ones, but bought 2 of the larger 4 ft variety that fit my shelves almost perfectly.
7.  Next I covered the containers with lids, or plastic wrap until they germinated.
8.  Once germinating and sprouting, I took off the covering and put on the grow lights making sure the lights were close to the planting surface.  I did forget to lower the lights at first, and had a few leggy seedlings but I hope they will adjust as they grow.
9.  It is important to check the seedlings daily to make sure you catch any problems quickly.  Also you need to keep track of when the surface is drying out so you can water the seedlings from the bottom. 
10.  One final step is shown in the picture below.  To ward off Damping Off Disease, sprinkle the surface with cinnamon.  So far it has helped.  It also is supposed to help keep those little black bugs that live in the soil at bay.
 So there you have it.  I will keep you posted as to how the seedlings are doing.  I have recently added some herbs to the 7 different greens I am growing.  I did say this was my most recent obsession!
“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Next Up on the Blog:  See my latest post at Beautiful Wildlife GardenOde To A Toad.  Monday will be the next color post highlighting the color red.   Then the Word 4 Wednesday, on the 25th, is reflection.  Hope you will drop by to celebrate my 100th post as I reflect on the past year of my life in the garden.  Oh and in case you missed it Wednesday, my friend Marcia Richards interviewed me again at her blog in celebration of her blog’s first anniversary.  Read it to find out what makes me sexy, smart and from the heart.

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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

43 Replies to “Garden Books Galore”

  1. I’m always looking for a good seed starting book. I have one but I don’t use it often enough.

    Great job on the seed starting! Won’t be long and you’ll be planting those seeds out in the garden.

    1. Thx Tina. These seedlings will actually be used now and with the experiment I hope to hone my seed starting skills…soon I will be starting early flowers and later veggies…I am hoping for better success this year…

  2. There’s some good information here I should learn and remember… I am terrible with seeds, last time I tried to place an order online I’ve thrown away 50 €. Nothing sprout. Anyway I find that gravel paths are a really good place to start plants from seeds, in fact I use it as a backup source of plants (my gravel paths) 🙂

    I wish you good luck with that big crutch for seedlings!!!!

  3. Although I have been sowing seeds for many years, I still am not successful all the time. Spinach seeds are particularly hard for me to work with even though I soak them first. Perhaps this book will help me solve some of these problems.

    1. Michelle, I did not soak my spinach seeds for sowing indoors but the heat mat, grow light and soil mix have helped with their success…now outside is a different matter…the book has helped so far and I am hoping for more success with sowing directly from seed outdoors using the hints…spinach has been hit or miss outside in the past…

  4. I see you’re a bigger garden book addict than I! Thanks so much for joining in! I have this book, and agree it is wonderful! You’re right – there is so much information. It is my seed ‘Bible’! I bought it because I wanted to save the seeds from my heirloom vegetables, and this book shows how to do it step by step. Hopefully I’ll be able to sow successfully those seeds I saved last year!

    1. Isn’t that funny Holley that you have this book. I also bought it originally to learn how to save seed and then realized it was a wonderful resource to learn to sow seed too…if you follow the tricks in the book, you will be successful. 🙂

  5. Great book and post, Donna. I used to sow seeds every winter and be so happy to see them grow in the garden. It is such a pleasure when they finally flower or fruit. The last two years I have been doing less and this year not at all. The time it takes is just too much to fit into my work schedule and they were what had to go. It will be fun watch your seed’s progress. I can live vicariously through your seed starting experiences.

    1. It does take a lot of time…as long as I have time I wanted to do this…we shall see how the sowing goes…trying to save money doing it this way…hope my seeds progress so you can enjoy them…

  6. This sounds like a wonderfully informative book but I have to admit, I’m too lazy to start seeds inside. I’ve tried in the past and always seem to lose interest in the whole process long before it’s time to move the seedlings outside. Now I only buy seeds that can be direct sown right into the ground. Limiting but much more appropriate for this ADD gardener.

    1. I hear you Debbie. I sow most in the ground. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant especially and some many annuals are being sown this March inside in an effort to see if I can successfully do this and save money. Otherwise it is back to only outside sowing and buying other plants.

  7. I have a seed saving book, but not this one, and it’s probably a little more advanced. For those starting out on the seed saving front though, this might be one I’ll have to recommend. Unfortunately, plants are complicating, so it’s probably a little tricky trying to write one of these books without providing a little more information than the reader expects.

    I love starting seeds though, especially ones I’ve saved from a previous season. Your little seedlings look very happy, and yes, heat mats are a must. They do wonders for germination!

    1. Thx Clare…I look to you as my mentor through your blog and now your greenhouse…I found it a very thorough book for beginners although nothing is simple with seeds as you say….

    1. Oh I should have counted the seed packets here and in route from mail order…just ordered more…did I say obsession…more like addiction!!

  8. I love this meme so much! It’s great to find out what my fellow gardeners are reading. I just checked out a couple of gardening books from the library. It’s my try before I buy approach.

    1. Great idea….I should do that…I already ordered more books from the meme…I’m having a ball with the meme so far!

  9. Hi Donna, I enjoyed your well written review. I have a few seed-starting books, but not this one. I start easy plants like marigolds and zinnias. I really should be more adventurous. Maybe I’ll get this book to motivate me. P x

    1. Pam thank you for those kind words…glad you enjoyed the review..this book is definitely for those wanting to branch out more with seeds…take the plunge… 🙂

  10. Hi Donna,
    I am so glad you will be reviewing books….I love books! I always have a pile from the library in my room…if only I had time to read them all! But now I can read your great reviews and that’s just as good. After reading this post I decided I need this book! Thanks, Elaine

    1. Oh Elaine how funny….I have 3 large book shelves that are now all full and more books always coming…I am so happy you enjoyed my review and that it convinced you to buy the book. The hard part about the book review is actually picking the book. Let me know how you do with the book!

  11. I read on Holley’s blog that she has 108 gardening books. I went to count mine and was delighted to find out I have quite a way to go to catch up to her, so I can keep on buying :). This book might make my list – I don’t have anything like it yet. Great review Donna!!!

    1. Christine I am so glad you enjoyed the review. You would love this book. I just bought a few more after reading the meme posts…fast approaching 140 now. 😉

  12. Donna – I admire your systematic approach, even reading the book twice. I only have patience to scan instruction books quickly. Hopefully, by reading your posts I’ll learn something.

    1. I usually am a scanner as well, but thought this time I would give it a bit more ficus…hope I can teach folks a bit more…

  13. This sounds like a wonderful resource! I have so many garden books, too, but none specifically about seed sowing. I don’t sow seeds indoors because of my cats, but I’m thinking about trying the winter-sowing technique. We’ll see… Good luck! 🙂

  14. Sounds like a great book and one that I need! I love the tip about cinnamon – I lose so many seeds to damping off! This year I am doing as much wintersowing as I can, but I know I shall have to fight the big fight with my annual seeds before too long..

    1. Ah retirement…I plan to retire from the “educational system” I say to people…but I plan to be just as busy doing that which I love now on my own schedule…of course that is all a dream!

  15. Perfect timing with this post! This will be my first time starting seeds indoors, so I’ll happily take good pointers or tips about good books. I have never heard of using cinnamon to stave off damping off! Amazing!

    I love your two-shelf light system. I hope those leggy seedlings will shape up! Sounds like you are well on your way to this year’s garden already. Looking forward to the next book review!

    1. Thanks Aimee. I hope to enjoy the greens and herbs in a couple of weeks. Starting some early annuals soon. Late veggies in late March. So glad you enjoyed the review.

  16. Have just shed a load of books and now fully understnad why they have dustjackets. This is a good meme for paring out the useful from the ‘wallflowers’ and where better to begin than with your seed sowing. Impressed with how you are doing things ‘properly’ Donna and hence your yields will increase. I confess to being a bit slapdash and it’s 2nd stage where I tend to lose mine – pricking out and potting on.

  17. I like your experiment, starting seeds is really more a matter of mother nature, you just have to give them the right jump start. Anyway, keep up the good work with your blog , very nice!

    1. Thx Jon. I agree especially when those seedlings get outside I never know what will be in store for them!! So glad you visited….

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