When it comes to gardening in the deep South, particularly in Mississippi, there are a couple of names that immediately come to mind, whether you’re talking edibles or ornamentals.
Felder Rushing and Norman Winters are the gardening superstars that have been dispensing their wisdom on Public Radio for years! If you’re going to try to grow things – especially in Mississippi – you owe it to yourself to read these guys’ books and then keep them handy for reference.
If you are local to Mississippi then you probably already know Rushing and Winters, but there are several more big names and big ideas in home gardening that you may not know.
Here are nine must-have books of horticultural wisdom especially for folks in the southern U.S, and particularly helpful to Mississippi gardeners. Highly recommended whether you are trying to get started or you’ve been doing it for years!
Month-by-month Gardening In Mississippi by Robert Polomski is chock full of useful info including planting times, growing conditions, tips and tricks, and the best part is that it is organized in a monthly format so that you can know what you need to be doing each month whether you are working with vegetables or flowers or trees! Polomski is great about keeping novice gardeners on track with necessary but sometimes non-obvious off-season tasks!
Guide to Mississippi Vegetable Gardening by Walter Reeves is one of the most recognizable gardening books on the shelf because of the beautiful macro photo of the tomato on the cover. It is specific to Mississippi, but the information is almost certainly applicable to neighboring states as well. Reeves covers weather/climate, USDA hardiness zones, rainfall, and insect control – all related to growing vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts.
Gardening Southern Style is Felder Rushing’s iconic gardening book with invaluable knowledge about landscaping, lawn care, trees and shrubs, fruit and vegetables, and indoor growing. This book also has a month-by month section with hints, tips, and tricks on how to make staying on top of your gardening chores more enjoyable.
Mississippi Gardener’s Guide by Norman Winters is almost more of a field guide layout with big spreads on individual plants including information on how to grow, companion planting, care and maintenance, and recommended varieties. Winter’s Mississippi Gardener’s Guide also has helpful info about planning landscapes using a color wheel as a guide to what complements each type of plant most beautifully.
Organic Gardening Down South by Nellie Neal is about the special challenges in the southern U.S. that make organic gardening potentially more involved, but worth it! Neal discusses soils, composting, growing conditions, pest control, and sanitation for growing ornamentals and edible plants in a non-toxic, beautiful, and effective manner.
Southern Fruit & Vegetable Gardening by Katie Elzer-Peters is a great book for learning about gardening – especially edibles – in the southern United States. This book has chapters on building great soil, planning, planting, and growing your garden. It also has a good bit of info about growing in our two seasons – scorching hot summer gardens and cool winter gardens!
Deep South Month-by-Month Gardening by Nellie Neal is another gardening calendar with information about watering, fertilizing, maintenance, and problem-solving for each month, whether you are growing annuals, perennials, flowers, bulbs, edibles, trees, or lawns. This format that lets you know what you need to be doing and watching out for each month is really helpful!
All New Square Foot Gardening II by Mel Bartholemew is a completely updated version of this author’s previous book on Square Foot Gardening – that is, container gardening often in smaller spaces. This book offers a great, modern take on vegetable growing that can give you some good new ideas if you are used to the long row tilled garden approach that we grew up with.
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway is another newer idea in the world of gardening. Basically companion planting entire biomes of edible perennials in your yard so that each plant supports the growing conditions of the others. This brilliant book is destined to become a classic in the genre of gardening books.
Each of the links above will take you to Amazon.com, where you can purchase the book. If you buy a book from one of our links, the Roaming Parkers might get a commission off the sale at no extra cost to you.