New Book Idea – Seeking Feedback

I have a new eBook idea, but I am after some feedback first, before I plunge into the project.

I am planning to write something along the lines of “the Suburban Food Farm” (working title), which will focus on how to get the most out of a small suburban plot and how to grow food even under less than ideal conditions.

Even though I am not a trained horticulturist, I believe that I have a wealth of experience to share with the average suburbanite who is looking to increase food production and food security in their own yard.

I posted the same question on the TGOG facebook page, and some great ideas so far are to include something new, a section focusing on Melbourne (maybe an appendix), poor aspects, living with kids and pets, soil testing for the average joe, and a comment asking if an eBook was the right format (I take my e-reader everywhere, even the garden).

What do you think?  Would anyone read or find this valuable?  Any other essentials that are never covered in a suburban food farm style book?

I look forward to your comments with baited anticipation!  Love a new project.


  1. says

    Hi Gavin. Your new book a great idea. Sounds very interesting
    We live in such a big country with so many different climates.
    To cover this and appeal to the masses perhaps you could include a planting guide for the regions, i.e. tropical, sub-tropical, dry arid and so on.

    Annette Mcfarlane is a very successful horticulturist and author from here in Brisbane and in her books she covers a regional planting guide. I see her books everywhere.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your new book.

  2. says

    Hi Gavin. Sorry for the late comment….by now you’ve probably written half the eBook 😉
    The answer to your question is… ‘Absolutely. Just do it!’.
    Ordinary folk need to see and read about real examples and ideas on how they can grow food in their own backyards. Sometimes people just don’t know were to start but seeing real examples is probably one of the best ways to say ‘you can do this too’. Like you we’ve made many changes, have retrofitted our house, learnt to grow some of our own food while teaching others along the way and it has been the best thing we’ve ever done. We just love it and want to share it with as many people as we can.

  3. says

    Hi Gavin, I was thinking about this post and also the comments people have written. It made me realise maybe I need to catch up with technology. For a start in the comments , people were writing about ‘e readers’ I feel really embarrassed to ask this …but what is an ‘e reader’ and do you have to have one to read your ‘e books’ ?
    I know the people who wrote the comments will think I am silly…I feel silly just confessing this , but I am one of the few people who has had the same mobile phone with no bells and whistles for years , and the only technology thing I do is blog ,email,post photos online and use microsoft word . I just like old fashioned stuff I guess.
    So …I have another idea for a book for people like me and it is this: ‘How To Write An E=Book’ by Gavin Webber.All your technology questions answered.I would buy this book.
    Your technologically challenged friend , Kim.

    • says

      Hi Kim. Don’t feel bad, you are not silly at all. I didn’t know what an e-reader was until about a month before I started writing! It is all pretty easy to figure out, and yes, you don’t need a device to read ebooks, just a normal computer will do fine.

      It is a great idea for a book, and indeed a post here on the blog. I have made a big assumption that people actually know how to download, and bring up my eBooks on either an e-reader or PC. I need to change that assumption.

      Thanks for helping,

      Gav x

  4. says

    That is a very interesting subject, but so localized, and that is the way you should keep it. Focus on what you do in your garden and your climate. Who knows you might start a series and even do one on gardening up here in the tropics…..

  5. Mitty says

    Would love to see some info on soil testing. Also, as a mechanically challenged person, I am perplexed by installation of drip irrigation and other watering systems. It freezes hard in the winter where I live, so this is an issue too. Do these things have to be drained or pulled out in the winter?

  6. TechChik says

    I’d be interested in knowing how self-sufficient and cost-effective you can make your urban farm. I’ve been tracking my caloric production and the cost of investing versus the savings harvested for several years.

    Calorie wise, I’d need 1800 (bare minimum) calories per day x 2 people x 365 days = over 1.3 million calories. My first year with only 50 square feet and a lousy growing season, I managed about 8000 calories (0.6%). I just don’t think it’s possible to be self-sufficient in the city, but I’d love to know how well other people are doing.

    Money-wise is much more interesting. The first year I invested $125 in seeds, transplants, wood for raised beds, compost, etc, and harvested what would have cost $127 in the big box grocery stores. (And my harvest was much better quality too). With the cost of food (aka oil) going nowhere but up, and that investment already done, this year promises to be much better. I’m also saving my own seeds now, and setting up a way to grow my own tomato seedlings. Then there’s the question of how much more you can save by processing your harvest into something like spaghetti sauce. If I calculated savings by sauce instead of by tomatoes (and I had 37 pounds of them the first year), my savings would be much higher.

    • says

      Hi TechChick. I don’t think that I will go into the calorie side of things. Self sufficiency is not my game, and I don’t think it is possible with the space I have. However, if I can convince people that it is in their best interest to grow some food, no matter what amount, then it is a step in the right direction.

      I will definitely be talking about costs of growing your own.

      Gav x

  7. says

    Personally I wouldn’t get much info out of it as my surburban farm is double what you have and older, and also sub tropical.That’s the biggest problem I find with garden books, it’s easier to garden in colder weather,with established seasons, and less bugs.Here we have to cope with fruit fly as a bonus to all the normal cold weather bugs.Lately it’s been bush turkeys,that’s fun they love root vegetables.If you are going to do a book who are you aiming at, the Victorian urbanite, or Australian.
    GOOGLE urban homestead,backyard farmer,Scarecrow,s garden and you may surprised at the info out there. Don,t get me wrong I have two of your book’s, but it’s a lot of work that requires a bit of homework for chapters.
    One positive thing though,is the continuation of keeping seedlings going for continual planting, very few books mention this and I find it the most important of all to keep up food production.Not everyone can afford to keep buying seedlings.Also growing twice as much as needed and preserving it in some way for winter supplies, is a must , even if it reduces the variety of vegetables.
    I would also do solar power,rainwater tanks,recycled water,worms,chickens,composting and keeping up fertilizers cheaply,and protecting fruit.
    Good luck.

    • says

      Hi Chris. Taken on board. I will only be able to write about what I know i.e. my climate. I am not even going to pretend to know all climatic zones, just mine.

      All your other suggestions are already in the book plan! Cheers

      Gav x

  8. says

    Sounds good Gav, you have so much to share. The drawback with the ebook format is the difficulty with diagrams and pictures being accessible to all formats of ereader, I think that really restricts the do-it-yourself genre, but I like that you can self-publish.

    • says

      Hi Liz, good point, but I think I pulled it off in the Backyard Oven eBook where there were lots of diagrams and pictures and technical information. After uploading the manuscript to Amazon, you can check out what it looks like on all of their Kindle types and even the iPad Kindle software. I rigorously test each book before publishing.

      Gav x

  9. Kathy says

    Oh hell yes, I’d get it. I, too, take my eReader everywhere, and I love having the convenience of taking all the books I’m currently reading with me, without needing a handbag as big as an overnight case. However, I do kinda agree that the e-book is a bit difficult for reference reading, since you can’t stick a finger in one page to go look up another. If you were prepared to do links throughout it to other related areas, it’d make that so much easier for the reader… and probably way harder for you.

  10. says

    Hi Gavin, To distinguish it from all the other books out there, you should really personalise it, and focus on all the elements and components of your unique backyard farm. I also agree that you have to show how your system fits into the wider context of your community, the source of inputs and where outputs of your garden and home go, and talk about what has worked really well and what has been a disaster, and why.
    Hope this helps.

    • says

      Hi Kali. Totally agree, and all in the book plan. It has to be different than other gardening books, and quite specific to what I do. The good with the bad as well.

      Gav x

  11. says

    I would love to read this Gav. I’ve been trying to grew food in may backyard with varying degrees of success. Would be great if you could pass on your knowledge in an e-book!

  12. says

    First of all , I love the sound of your E Books but I love the feel of a book in my hand. Gavin you have so much material now…have you ever considered sending a book to a publisher?? I would buy it for sure- we have so many city people visit the farm stay that are hungry for information like this. The question we always get asked is ‘How do I start??’
    But still, if done as an e-book or a hold in your hand book and I was a city person, I would want to know where I could buy natural foods ( markets) that I couldn’t grow myself , and the very ,very beginning. It is so hard to people to get their head around that living in the city shouldn’t stop them. Also a list of community groups that people can get in contact with and learn from .

    Also you might not be a horticulturalist…but you are inspiring and you talk like normal people and we can understand you (and that is so important!!)

    • says

      Great ideas, thanks Kim. Yes, I have considered a publisher and paper version of a book, however I love the freedom that eBooks and self-publishing give me, and the lower impact to the environment.

      Gav x

    • says

      Hear, hear, Gavin. I love the accessibility of eBooks. Perhaps it is because I am a little impatient, but I love being reading a review, say, and then being able to read the book moments later. Without having to hop on the bike, cycle into the city, enquire at the ever dwindling number of bookshops only to be told “We haven’t got it in stock but we can order it in…”

      I realise it is the rise of eBooks that has seen the demise of the paperback but there is no use fighting it now. I do love a good independent bookshop. The type that has been carefully curated to provoke inquisitiveness and conversation. The type that introduces you to the new rather than acts as a supermarket for the decided.

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