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The best gardening books for southern California

Healthy Sunflowers for California Soil

It is not too late to plan a summer garden but you will need a little help in speeding things up. We have not had very much rain this year so building up your beds and lawn will require hints and techniques to make them productive.

The very best books to help you do this are the Sunset Western Garden Book and two by Jerry Baker, Backyard Problem Solver and Flower Garden Problem Solver.

Sunset Western Garden book is a gardening encyclopedia especially for the west coast. It deals with droughts and plants that do well in this zone. Included is an extensive alphabetical listing of all plants with common and Latin names, how to care for them and which zones (including states) are best for them. It is extremely helpful to know if a plant you want will do better in southern or northern California.

The book also discusses which types of dirt we Angelinos have to work with and which techniques and plants work best with them. In Los Angeles, the most common type of dirt is clay. It is heavy and not very porous, most often suffocating plants. Study this section thoroughly.

Jerry Baker is the ultimate green gardener and has several books with solutions for solving gardening problems. Using common ingredients straight from you kitchen cabinet, Baker’s non-chemical mixtures contain fusions of beer, baby shampoo, mouthwash, tea, Epsom salt and gypsum, to name just a few. The books are not exclusively for California but they work in every zone.

The section on how to have the best dirt possible is especially useful. It solves the problem of clay soil, rendering it light and nutritious.

Combining Baker’s solutions with the information in the Sunset Western Gardening book will make gardening fun, productive and worthwhile. 

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