Louise Riotte was a master gardener and a fellow Oklahoman who passed away in 1998, at the age of 88. I discovered a few of her books earlier this year. These are two of my favorites.
Success With Small Food Gardens is a concise introduction to backyard gardening. The author focuses on small spaces and what you can get out of them rather than their limitations. The book includes lots of yard and garden sketches that show how to make the best use of a small space. I especially like the section on edible shrubs and flowers, which can add so much useable plant life to a small yard without compromising aesthetics. The book includes detailed instructions on how to plant, grow and care for many different types of plants, from garden plants to shrubs to trees. Although the book was published in 1977, it is still very valid today, and offers the kind of insight only a naturally talented gardener can impart. If I had to choose one thing about the book that I didn’t like, it would be the drawings of plants. The drawings are actually the work of the author, but I’d prefer actual photographs.
Carrots Love Tomatoes is the ideal companion to Success With Small Food Gardens. This companion planting guide teaches gardeners how to use plants' natural partnerships to produce bigger and better harvests. It also includes lots of other tips for natural pest and disease prevention, soil improvement for specific plants, and information on trees and the growing habits of weeds. Things are really easy to look up -- there is a section each on vegetables and herbs organized by plant, so you can look up how to best take care of your tomatoes or cabbages. Then there's another section on pests, so you can look up a specific pest to see what types of plants may repel it. First published in 1975, this book is another timeless classic that should be on every home gardener’s shelf. I pull it out every time I get ready to plant something new.