This is a peek at some of my favorite books I keep on hand as reference or inspiration. If you are interested in them, have hyperlinked the images to Amazon or if not available there, where they might be found if still available. 

Sunset Western Garden Book– This is the must have for every West Coast Gardener.  If I could only have one garden book on my shelf, this would be it. I prefer the “New Century” Edition, but there are many useful editions.



Insects of the Los Angeles Basin by Charles Hogue.  Expensive, but I checked it out at the library so many times, I ended up buying my own copy of it.  Detailed descriptions, color photos, and insects specific to my area.




Allergy-Free Gardening- by Thomas Leo Ogren.  This book taught me to look at my plantings differently.  Excellent reference if you love to garden, but have allergies or live with someone who does.  It rates  and classifies common plants based on type of allergen and the degree and manner which it effects most people.

Answers For California Gardeners by Robert Smaus.  Out of print. Excerpts from his many years of writing a column for the Los Angeles Times.




52 Weeks in the California Garden by Robert Smaus.  Out of print.  What to plant, what varieties, and what to do at the different time of year, week by week.



The American Horticulture Society’s A to Z Encyclopedia by Christopher Brickell and Judith Zuk.  4 inches thick and in color.  Every plant you could think of.  I have friends that bring me cuttings and ask me to identify it.  With the help of this book, I often can.

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control edited by Ellis and Marshall Bradley.  Guide to identifying and remedying garden diseases and pest problems.  It suggests a variety of valuable integrated pest management approaches to more common pest and disease problems. I liked this one so much, I bought a second copy and donated it to the garden section at my local library.  I was surprised it was not in the Long Beach Public Library system already.

Gaia’s Garden by Chelsea Green.  Introduction to Permaculture methods.

Esther Dean’s Gardening Book: Growing Without Digging. by Esther Dean.  Not easily available in U.S.  I had it shipped from Australia.  Drought tolerant methods.

How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening. By Ruth Stout.  Similar Methods to Esther Dean.

Lets Get Growning by Crow Miller from Rodale.  Organically growing flowers, fruit, and vegetables.  Simple book with a broad overview on common plants.

Pat Welsh’s Southern California Gardening by Pat Welsh.  Similar to Robert Smaus’s books.

Bird’s of North America:Western Region. Smithsonian Handbooks.

Peterson Fieldguides: Western Birds. Peterson.

Peterson Fieldguides:Western Butterflies. Peterson.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow.  A good guide for newcommers to keeping chickens.

The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow.  An in-depth resource for disease prevention and remedies to many common chicken ailments.

Builder’s Greywater Guide by Art Ludwig

Create an Oasis with Grey Water by Art Ludwig

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter.  Novella writes of her real life adventures and challenges living in Oakland with gardening, raising her own food, and living frugally.

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutsen

* I have owned and read hundreds of other books on similar topics over the years, but in downsizing our shelves, these were the books I didn’t want to part with.  I often use the public library, and therefore, I only buy what they don’t have in stock or what I feel I will regularly refer back to.