Sunday, January 15, 2023

Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida: 2nd Edition

Order directly from our publisher:
University Press of Florida 

Melissa and I worked with University Press of Florida to improve, update, and reorganize our book. The photos, including many new ones, are now located throughout the book, not just in the center, which will make it much easier to read. We've explained our process in the new preface included here for your information.

Preface to the Second Edition 

Much has happened in plant science and organic gardening techniques in the almost 10 years since we began researching and writing the first edition of this book, so we agreed to spend some time to revisit and update the content for this edition. We were eager to work on this project so that Florida’s vegetable gardeners would have easy access to this new information. 

We added some crops to our list, such as culantro (Eryngium foetidum), a biennial herb commonly grown in the Caribbean, which offers a warm-weather, savory alternative to the cool-weather cilantro. And we also added wild sweet basil (Ocimum campechianum), which is native to South Florida and has some surprising minty and anise overtones to its fragrance and flavor. We eliminated some crops as well. For instance, we had listed Florida betony (Stachys floridana) as a crop, but it’s unlikely that anyone would grow this aggressive Florida native as a crop. In addition, we removed most of the recipes, since there are so many readily available online, but we still have the “uses” section for each of the crops. 

Florida betony is a beautiful native mint that attracts pollinators, but it has aggressive roots with these weird tubers that give them their other common name, rattlesnake root. The roots are edible—they add a radishy crunch to your salads or stir-fries. That being said, it’s unlikely that anyone would grow this weedy plant as a crop.

We also updated the three growing calendars (for North, Central, and South Florida), which provide general guidelines for scheduling your gardening activities, to further emphasize your need to pay closer attention to local conditions to become more successful. This way you can build your own farming calendar specific to your conditions in a changing world. We want you to use this book not only as a resource, but also a springboard so that you can grow as a gardener. 

Another reason to update the book is that the economics of the printing process has changed so that color photos can be positioned in with the text instead of being grouped in the center of the book. We think this makes the book much easier and more logical to read. Also, Marjorie Shropshire has colorized her wonderful illustrations so that they work even better to help make the text easier to understand. We would like to thank all the readers of the first edition, especially those who gave us feedback. 

We would also like to thank the organic agriculture professors at the University of Florida for their continued support and insight. Thanks to Margie Pikarsky, of Bee Haven Farm in Homestead, Florida, for her insight and practical suggestions. And thanks to the editors and staff at University Press of Florida for working with us to put this together the second time around. 

Welcome to Florida vegetable gardening, again!

Ginny Stibolt and Melissa Markham
Summer of 2022

Also, here is a post I wrote for University Press of Florida's blog on what's new and different in this beautiful 2nd edition.

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