Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Suggested reading for Florida gardeners

Elizabeth asked in the comment section of yesterday's post if I had any recommended reading for Florida gardeners.

Unfortunately, I haven't come across many great books that are for Florida alone. There is, of course, Florida Gardening by Stan DeFreitas, which is the book that first got me going many years ago - but I don't necessarily recommend that as a great resource for food growers.

A good place to start looking up Florida plants and how to grow them is, of course, the UF/IFAS/EDIS/HIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, otherwise known simply as the Electronic Data Information Source of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

There's a search bar there, which you'll need since the site is not at all intuitive. In fact, it's often easier to just type in something like "invasive giant snake-like weedy vine thingy with stinky flowers IFAS" into Google and hope for the best.

One of these days I'm going to write a book on survival gardening in Florida. Until then, there are some books I recommend you read and glean bits and pieces from. If you get stuck on something specific to our region, you can always ask me your questions or just experiment. That's where real learning often takes place.

Here are a few of my go-to books:

How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition by John Jeavons

This is a great jump into biointensive gardening. It relies on little to no external inputs and gives you excellent results, even in sand.

Gardening Without Irrigation

On the other side of the spectrum from Jeavons' intensive beds is Steve Solomon's approach to wide row gardening in low rain conditions. This is how I grow my corn and other field crops without having to water. The link above takes you to the free download page of Project Gutenberg. Don't bother buying this book - it's public domain.

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

Another Steve Solomon epic. Contains a lot of good information and thoughts on feeding yourself under adverse conditions. Must-have.

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Fruitcake name but killer information. This will transform the way you look at food growing, gardening and the ecosystem around your house.

Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles

Toensmeier's classic look at veggies you ONLY HAVE TO PLANT ONCE. Many of the selections are perfect for Florida; in fact, reading this book is likely to make temperate gardeners cry.

I recommend any gardener read these. I look at buying physical copies of great gardening books as part of my insurance plan for the future. If things collapse, I'll still have my books and the knowledge therein. What may seem like a big purchase now may look dirt cheap in the future when you really need to get some food on the table.

Load up your Amazon cart and buy them when you get a chance, then spend a month reading. It's worth it.


At February 4, 2014 at 8:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, David. . . into my Amazon cart they went (most of them). I already rely heavily on the University of Florida's website and you are spot on when you say it's not very intuitive. But a decent Google search does put you in the right direction. Someday, when I don't have to work on Tuesdays, I'm going to become a Master Gardener. :-)

At February 4, 2014 at 11:52 AM , Anonymous SomeGardenGuy said...

When you get around to putting together your own book, will you go self-published e-book or through a tradition publisher instead?

At February 4, 2014 at 11:54 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Good question. I'll probably go with an e-book unless one of the big publishers picks me up. I'll also do a run of physical copies folks can buy in case the grid goes down.

Publishing has changed a lot in the last few years. It almost doesn't make sense to go through traditional methods anymore.

At February 4, 2014 at 4:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've gotten a lot of practical information from Tom MacCubbin's books. Definitely not geared toward the organic gardener, but if you take a yin-yang path to gardening there's something to learned from his books.

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