Like many of us, Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser learned to garden by chemical dependency. So they know that switching to natural methods isn't always quick, easy or intuitive.

Still, they believe it's worth the effort. That's why they've written Grow Organic (St. Lynn's Press, $18.95), a guide to natural gardening that's intended for both organic neophytes and folks who've been growing that way for years.

Oster, a garden columnist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Walliser, a garden writer, lecturer and radio host, built the book on their own experiences. Grow Organic covers all the basics, but its strength is the tips and tricks the authors share, as well as the lessons they've learned.

Particularly helpful is a chapter that guides readers through a gradual transition to natural gardening methods.

Thinking outside the backyard, meanwhile, are authors Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin, who argue in their book, True Green: 100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet (National Geographic Books, $19.95), that making a personal effort to improve the Earth's well-being need not be daunting.

McKay and Bonnin, who work with the environmental organization Clean Up the World, provide suggestions on steps anyone can take to reduce pollution and waste, cut water and energy use, and otherwise help the environment.

Their recommendations range from simple solutions - for example, taking shorter showers and unplugging cell-phone chargers when they're not in use - to bigger commitments such as installing a solar water heater.