I’ve written a gardening book
The book itself is written using the Notion web app and you can browse it on the web and soon from within notion itself. The book can be found here. I also have a ‘quick links’ page for the book, that links to just the sections that are finished, but also other related content.
About 7 years ago I wrote a post outlining a number of ideas for books that I’d like to write. Some of those idea still appeal to me. One of them ‘re-inventing the modern workplace’ has been overtaken by events, because most of what I wanted to write about has been initiated by COVID. Several of the ideas are a low priority now because I’ve written pretty good outlines and published them on this blog already.
Ironically the book I did end up writing wasn’t on the list back then and I nearly didn’t write it. Over the years I’ve become disillusioned by books. At least half of the content ends up being padding, another quarter well trodden ground and only the remaining quarter contains something new and interesting. I really didn’t want to repeat that pattern.
I’m particularly frustrated by gardening books, most of which seems to consist of the information contained on the back of a stack of seed packets, along with the obligatory section on composting, building a raised bed, sowing seeds etc.
Over the years though the frequent requests for me to write one stacked up and I started to consider it again. The tipping point came when I realised four things:
- I’ve accumulated a huge amount of material in my various databases
- I’ve a very large library of youtube videos
- I’ve developed a style of gardening for self-sufficiency, that’s not been well covered in written form
- My style of gardening is quite efficient
This was an enticing combination. If I wrote an eBook I’d be able to build on all four strengths, surfacing all that difficult to discover and navigate database and video content within a narrative structure. The eBook format would also allow me to keep updating the book as my knowledge and scope of interests grew and would allow me to capture the results of my continued experiments. It would also allow me to embed and link to other resources that complimented my own, or that covered topics that I had no interest in. I’d even be able to link to opposing views or alternative techniques.
Finally I’d be able to capture information that I would find useful myself as I got older. The eBook format would also allow me to give the content away for free and to allow people to take copies of the book and modify it for their own use and/or republish it.
So I’ve written a book, or at least enough of a book to be useful. It will probably never be finished.
It’s not a typical gardening book, or at least I hope it’s not and it’s been a very enjoyable experience. I’m used to writing reports and individual articles. I’ve never had the luxury to write something with so much structure before.
The basic idea of the book is to start with my philosophy of life and to link that to the way I garden, then to introduce the basic techniques of gardening. I then wanted to establish my credentials by showing how much space we use to grow a lot of food for a lot of people and showing how to figure out how much space the reader would need to do the same. Finally I provide a framework for thinking about what to grow.
That’s the gentle introduction. I then (this section is not complete) provide a cookbook like list of types of meal and list the fresh ingredients you can use for each meal types for the whole year. I also list the preserves that add a bit of sparkle to these meals. Eventually I will probably build this section straight from my databases.
I then move on to the growing sections, describing how to grow the plants that I listed in the previous sections. There are two types of growing guide. The first takes a class of fruit/veg, for example spinach and show you how to grow that class of veg all year round another example might be salad leaves. I’m also in the process of writing individual guides to specific types of vegetable.
There’s lots more to come in the future, in terms of written content on veg growing and I’m sure I will eventually add sections on ‘gardening jobs’ that go beyond sowing, planting and harvesting. But I will also be creating more tools, templates and other goodies depending on how bad the winter weather is, ie how much time I have available.
The eBook and related content is free, but it is now possible to support my content creation via the buy me a coffee web site.