By Ginny Stibolt, coauthor (with Melissa Markham) of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida

The second edition of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida is now available! Melissa Markham and I were eager to work on updating the book for several reasons, and in this post I explain what’s new and different in the second edition.

First, we repositioned the color photos to make the book much more logical and easier to read. We included quite a few new photos, both large and small, to better illustrate gardening situations.

In addition, much has happened in plant science and organic gardening techniques in the ten years since we began researching and writing the first edition of this book. For instance, in the second edition we include the concept of trap crops like blue Hubbard squash which seems to be more attractive to pickleworm moths, squash bugs, and other pests that damage squash family crops, and so there are strategies on using this crop to reduce the pest populations on other members of this family. There is new research on companion plants that attract predator insects to the garden such as sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), which attracts adult hover flies or syrphid flies because their maggot-like larvae are voracious predators of aphids and other pest bugs. Alyssum also attracts the tiny parasitoid wasps and those larvae feed on hornworms, army worms, and other caterpillars.

We highly recommend growing the Seminole pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) because, unlike most other members of this family, it does very well in Florida’s hot, wet summers. This vigorous and bountiful squash is native to Mexico and Guatemala, but it had been traded northward by Indigenous peoples up into Florida and was being grown here before Europeans arrived. Both the butternut squash and the Calabaza pumpkin from the Caribbean are cultivars of this species.

We arrange the crops by family (not by the alphabet) in the book because it’s important to know the plant families to create effective crop rotations between the garden beds. 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 (Coriandrum sativum). 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 edible but aggressive Florida native as a crop.

In addition, we removed most of the recipes in this edition since there are so many readily available online, but the book still contains the “uses” section for each of the crops. We also updated the three growing calendars (for North, Central, and South Florida), which provide general guidelines for scheduling gardening activities, to further emphasize the need to pay close attention to local conditions in order to garden more successfully. 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.

So, welcome to Florida vegetable gardening, again!

Ginny Stibolt, a freelance writer, botanist, and experienced gardener, is the author of Sustainable Gardening for FloridaThe Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape; and Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener: Advice for New Florida Gardeners. Stibolt is coauthor of A Step-by-Step Guide to a Florida Native Yard (with Marjorie Shropshire) and Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida (with Melissa Markham).

Use code 23SPR for discount prices on Ginny Stibolt’s books from University Press of Florida and free shipping within the US for orders over $75. Sale ends June 18, 2023.

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