Florida gardening isn’t as hard as people claim. Once you learn the proper methods to grow what grows in Florida, it’s actually a very easy state for food growing.
For years I gardened for my family to keep us fed with good organic vegetables. We didn’t have much money, so our backyard garden was quite valuable. But I didn’t just see it as valuable on an economic level. Of even more value was the quality of the produce we could grow. Pure, healthy foods without poisons, rich in enzymes and minerals and picked at peak ripeness, right from the backyard.
Over the years I saw lists of “dirty” foods and how they were loaded with pesticides and herbicides, I read horror stories about arsenic in chicken food and glyphosate in flour, and I realized how broken the Standard American Diet (SAD) has become.
I wanted better for my children and the only answer I could afford was to grow my own.
So we did. In Central Florida, in Tennessee, in North Florida, in the Caribbean, and now in Alabama.
When things got really scary, though, was during the pandemic. We were living on a small piece of lend in a couple of home-built cabins when the island locked down. And it locked down hard. A killer virus was coming and the world was grinding to a halt.
And we had a half-acre of dirt and a few fruit trees with a composting toilet, two little cabins, a couple of faucets and an outdoor shower.
As the news came in and the lockdowns started, we planted every inch we could find. We even put garden beds on the driveway.
What had been a nice economic relief – a backyard garden with healthy vegetables – now became a need. We didn’t know when the stores would open again, or if we’d have food to buy. There were two-mile lines to buy food in town.
So we planted and planted and planting, using all the knowledge we had gained over the years.
Within a couple of months, we were bringing in a lot of vegetables. In 3-4 months, we had lots and lots of roots.
Our work and our knowledge got us through. It was a real-life test. And though the stores opened again eventually and the virus wasn’t the plague we initially thought it might be, we had proven that we could do it.
During that time, I started writing. I imagined my many readers and viewers in my home state of Florida, undergoing similar fears and concerns about the future, and I decided to write a book for them.
If I had been in sandy, unpredictable Florida – how would we have grown? What would we have grown? What would work to get us through, no matter what? Much of my family lived in the state and were asking me gardening questions. Many friends were planting their backyards for the first time. I had to write a guide based on what we had learned!
The resulting book was titled Florida Survival Gardening: The Complete Guide to Survival Food Growing in the Sunshine State.
The book was an immediate success. My fears and concerns were shared by many others. Could you feed yourself in Florida? Could you grow your own food in a typical Florida backyard? Would you go hungry if supply lines failed?
If you know how to garden like we do, the answer is no. You will have what you need, and you can ride out a lot with the proper knowledge.
As one Amazon reviewer writes:
“Florida gardening is so different from gardening in the Northeast. The weather and soil are so different that I didn’t even know where to start! Thanks to this book, I now feel confident about raising a garden that will feed my family.”
That was the idea! If you are fighting to grow food in Florida and are concerned about the future and keeping your family fed with the best possible food, Florida Survival Gardening is for you.
Thank you for the support and inspiration over the years – you backyard gardeners are my heroes and have inspired me greatly. I am so pleased to be able to see your success as the stories of successful food-growing roll in. Lose your fear and grow like never before.
If we did it, you can too!
Florida gardening can’t be any harder than Appalachian gardening. If my granny could feed her family here, you can surely feed yours there. Now, y’all move up here and write a book for the mountains! I’d love to hold that baby for a while.
I love that area – we spent many summers in Spruce Pine, NC. It’s a different climate for sure, but it’s rich and beautiful.
Would love to meet up in person some time, Cindy.
Spruce Pine is right next door!
That book was how I accidently started growing things. — I’ve got six kids. Two girls and four boys. Last year, my boys got into survival skills/bushcraft a little bit, so when birthdays came, my wife punched “survival” into an online bookstore and bought 4 or 5 off the top. In this pile was your book, Florida Survival Gardening. To your utter dismay, I’m sure, your book was largely ignored for quite some time until it was unburied last September. For no reason in particular, I unwittingly glanced between the covers and was catapulted on a journey into growing food for my family on my own tiny lot. Everything else I ever read or saw about gardening made it so difficult it really wasn’t worth starting. (That’s a lot of hours and a lot of caterpillars for some cabbage and a couple sad looking tomatoes). But this permaculture/food forest/ return to Eden thing is nothing short of inspiring. Now I’m reading everything I can find on growing in my area, and constantly thinking about what my yard will look like one day. I’ve got a bunch of tiny little fruit tree starts and two sad, sandy little annual beds, but I’m growing stuff (theoretically), and I’ve got you to thank, David. … So you know … Thanks. (Melbourne, FL)
That is fantastic – thank you, Jordan.
I talked to someone last night who said something similar about their yard. He told me that his wife read my books and started planting and now he has to use a machete to get through the jungle of food. That’s what Florida can grow like!
Also – six kids is excellent!
I agree! Like Jordan, I also have 2 girls and 4 boys.
Jordan, my grandparents lived in Palm Bay, not far from you. My grandpa had so many beautiful citrus trees.
This book truly saved my family. We are healthy. Not stressed over shelves being empty. I have enough food to store and even give away. All started from seeds in beach sand. I can’t thank you enough.
Thank you very much, Jeff. I am so glad.
I second the request about how to grow food on a mountain. We have mountain property very near Skyline Drive in Virginia at 2700 feet. I want to be able to grow food there as well as in my Maryland garden at 500 feet.
I have your Grow or Die, Crazy Easy Florida Gardening and Florida Food Forest books. Does Florida Survival Gardening contain new information? We are going to be moving to NE Florida this summer and starting from scratch. We’ve gardened successfully in Southern Oregon, but where we are now (the rocky Ozarks of Missouri) we’ve had little success. So Florida is super scary and we can’t waste a lot of time making mistakes…you know why.
Yes – it is expanded into intense food growing in Florida. It’s a more in-depth survival-focused supplement to Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening.
Also – welcome to Florida!
I’ve been hearing you pitch this book for so many months now, I’m really starting to feel like I’m missing out by not having it in my library. I’m not planning to move to Florida any time soon, but with all those illustrations of tropical and sub-tropical plants…I feel like it’d be just a nice reference book to have on hand, would you agree? I can just see it on my bookshelf next to my other gardening books… And anyway, does one really need to rationalize buying a gardening book, just because it has no obvious practical applications in your life? No, I don’t think so, either.
No, definitely don’t need to rationalize. I have so many gardening books on my shelf…