Education doesn’t have to be expensive! There are dozens of free resources out there on the interwebs that, with a little patience, can teach you everything you need to know. I’ve scoured all corners of the internet to bring you as many free gardening ebooks as I could find – and I’m constantly adding to it, so check back often!
I have a weakness for the old way of doing this. Because of this, I have a weakness for old books. A lot of books from the 1800’s and early 1900’s have had their copyright expire and are now considered public domain. This means there are teams of people scanning old books, or manually re-typing them (!!) so the rest of us can enjoy them, for FREE!
Project Gutenberg is one of those teams, as is Archive.org and SurvivorLibrary. I’ve collected a list of free gardening ebooks and will continue to add more as I find them. I’m also adding brief descriptions of the books as I have time to read them to hopefully help you decided which books are worth your time.
Free Gardening eBooks
Manual of Gardening (Second Edition)
Written in 1910, the Manual of Gardening was written with a homemaker in mind, not a professional gardener. Bailey worked with home gardeners, as well as professors of horticulture to ensure that the breadth of the writing went beyond just his personal experience. That being said, most of the material is aimed at the northeastern states and covers ornamental gardens as well as vegetable.
The illustrations are beautiful, and the amount of information is overwhelming. In addition to general layout of a home garden, he produces amounts needs to sow for vegetables to feed a family of six, and tasks to do each month of the year for the garden and orchard, and how to care for individual plants – both ornamental and vegetable.
Gardening for the Million
Organized in alphabetical order, this book lists almost every plant you could think of, with a short snippet of reference information – fabulous for that quick look-up.
The Garden Prime-A Practical Handbook on Gardening For Beginners (1910)
A little book filled with big knowledge! This book is aimed at absolute beginners – people who have never grown a thing in their lives, or think they may have black thumbs. Expect topics like types of plants, plant nomenclature, how to start seeds, etc.
Soil Culture Primer (1914)
This awesome little book goes into serious detail about plants, and their relationship with the soil. It’s a primer, so it’s not too in depth, but made some analogies for me that really got me thinking. It’s not an instruction manual – it doesn’t say ‘plant this, here, like this and you’ll have success’. He talks about types of soil, why air in soil is important, how a plant will take up nutrients, all of the basic information you need before you start a garden.
The Primer of Irrigation (1910)
This “primer” is nearly 300 pages of powerful information. It doesn’t just cover how to set up an irrigation and why – it goes into soil science, botany, planning out your land, different types of water supplies, drainage and more. Definitely a great all-round publication, whether you’re planning on installing irrigation or not.
A-B-C of Gardening – (1915)
Quick and to the point, this book simply states fact. “Do this, then this, then this.” It covers every type of gardening situation from a large farm to small city lot. It covers window-boxes, flowers for table decorations, bulbs, etc. And even covers topics such as gardening for children, unique garden ideas and simply “gardening don’t’s”.
American Manures and Farmers and Planters Guide (1872)
More information than you could ever want to know about poop. This book is very scientific and covers the chemistry of plants, what they need, and what manure has. It doesn’t just cover manure, but store-bought fertilizers as well. And continues on about crop yields, rotation,
Another Hardy Garden Book – (1905)
A wonderful all-round book on gardening. Vegetables, fruit, flowers, and ornamental trees. It also includes chapters on growing lilies and irises, as well as chores broken up by season.
Beginners Book Of Gardening – (1911)
Farm Economy – A Cyclopedia of Agriculture for the Practical Farmer – (1915)
Fruit Farming for Profit-A Practical Treatise – (1911)
Garden Farming – (1913)
Garden Guide-The Amateur Gardeners Handbook – (1917)
Garden Vegetables And How To Cultivate Them – (1866)
How to Grow Vegetables and Garden Herbs – A Practical Handbook and Planting Table for the Vegetable Gardener – (1911)
How To Succeed With The Home Orchard – (1920)
Irrigation for the Farm Garden – (1893)
Jacques New Manual of the Garden Farm and Barnyard (1870)
Practical Farming and Gardening – Money Saving Methods in Farming
Productive Farming – (1912)
Successful Farming – 1916
The Amateurs Practical Garden-Book (1900)
The Book of the Garden Vol 1 (1853)
The Book of the Garden Vol 2 (1855)
The Family Farm and Gardens and the Domestic Animals Illustrated – 1859
The Nursery Book-A Complete Guide to The Multiplication and Pollination of Plants – 1892
The Plain Path to Good Gardening or How to Grow Vegetables Fruits and Flowers Successfully – 1871
The School Garden Book 1909