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Winter Reading Materials

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider

People garden for different reasons and there is a garden book to cover each one. We each have our favorite books and wanted to share them with you this Christmas season.

Vegetable Gardening in West Texas – a Guide by John P. Cappadonna. This book is written by a local author who really knows his stuff. It is by far the book I have read and referred to the most in the last year. The step-by-step guide answers questions from planning to growing to eating from your garden. The book can be purchased from the author. Find him on Facebook at West Texas Vegetable Gardeners.

The Secret Life of Compost by Malcolm Beck. Mr. Beck was the expert on holistic composting and this book is the “Bible” on the subject. He grew up in Bastrop and passed away in 2018 but leaves his years of research for all of us to use. This book is a must have anyone interested in composting. This book is available online.

Lawn Gone! By Pam Penick. This book discusses alternatives for your yard in a sustainable way. I love the pictures that show how to use hardscape in your yard. As a vegetable gardener the entire section on “Out with the Grass, In with the Garden” is perfect for West Texas. There are drought tolerant, eco-friendly landscapes that use alternative grasses. This book is available online.

Michael Pollan initiated the Modern Library Gardening Series in 2002. There are only seven books in the series, but they are all delights and all classics. His first choice was Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi. Originally published in 1981, it is a series of alphabetical essays on gardening that manages to combine gardening with cultural and practical insight. There is no order, other than alphabetical to this book so pick it up and put it down at your leisure. This book is available from online booksellers.

Some gardeners create habitat and there are many books that cover this aspect of landscape design or help you choose plant materials. Doug Tallamy in Nature’s Best Hope teaches why creating habitat is important. A professor of entomology by trade, Tallamy lays out the why we must and how we can create wildlife habitats in our own yards. This book is available at book stores and online.

And finally, what would the holiday season be without a coffee table book that delights the eye and teaches you as well? Marfa Garden The Wonders of Dry Desert Plants begs you to look and be awed by the beauty of native plants. This book is available online.

If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at and


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