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Gardening Like a Ninja with Angela England: An O2O Author Interview

Gardening Like a NinjaAngela is one of the first bloggers that I knew “IRL” to write a book. It was fascinating to watch from the sidelines as she took the lifestyle she had been living and blogging about and put all into a book (Backyard Farming On an Acre (More or Less)). She is smart, intrepid, and hard-working and I’m so glad that I get to call her friend! Her latest book, Gardening Like a Ninja: A Guide to Sneaking Delicious Edibles Into Your Landscapebuilds off of Backyard Farming by focusing specifically on growing herbs, vegetables, and fruits right in your landscaping! Who knew?

 

Angela EnglandO2O: What is your book about?

AE: Gardening Like a Ninja is a book for everyone who wishes they could grow their own food, but is struggling with limitations of some kind. Perhaps their Home Owner’s Association is very strict and regulates landscaping. Maybe they are planning to move soon and every planting decision needs to enhance curb appeal. Whatever the limitations, Gardening Like a Ninja teaches not only basic how-to-grow-plant information, but how to design a landscape that is gorgeous, unique, and one-of-a-kind. But more than that, a landscape design that is productive. By combining plants you can eat, with class landscape design techniques, you’ll have a fruitful garden that looks professionally created. You can have your curb appeal, and eat it too!

O2O: What was your inspiration for writing this book?

AE: When I wrote Backyard Farming On an Acre (More or Less) (Alpha Books 2013) I had one sub-section of one chapter dedicated to Edible Landscaping. And from that one tiny section I received so many emails and questions that I knew people were curious for more information. I knew I needed a full-color book that would save people all the time of researching which plants they could include and make it very doable for them to get started.

O2O: Of the edible landscape plants that you cover in the book, do you have a favorite and why is it your favorite?

AE: There are so many that I adore it’s impossible to choose just one, but I’d have to say that most of my go-to favorites are in the herb category. Thyme, for example, is an excellent ground cover that will easily replace creeping phlox or sedum ground covers with an edible replacement. Thyme can be pricy in the store, and there are amazing varieties available for any landscaping space.

Another favorite is Rosemary which is another herb, semi-evergreen, and smells amazing. I always try to plant one near the door where it can be enjoyed on a regular basis. Basil is an annual herb that prefers full sun, so I love to pop a few seedlings into containers and move them around the yard to fill any gaps in the summer landscape. Basil is available in a variety of colored foliage from burgundy to nearly true purple to green and I love them all.

O2O: Was there anything different or surprising about writing this book than when you wrote your previous book?

AE: It was surprising to me how much research this book required. When I wrote Backyard Farming I could recommend any plant that I was familiar with. With this book, each plant recommendation had to be not only something you could eat, but something that would add true beauty to the landscape. The focus is as much on beauty and style as it is on food production, so there was a delicate balancing act that happened through the entire book. It took more work than I anticipated on my end. But it will save the reader a tremendous amount of research and simplify things so much for them.

O2O: You also created a digital course to go with the book that provides additional tips and tricks. How did the course come about? Did you know from the beginning that you would offer it or was it something that came to you through the writing process?

AE: I knew I wanted to offer a course for the hand’s-on extras that were pruned from the book for space purposes. I include a lot more information, for example, on home soil testing and building a compost bin to establish that good foundation. I also created an additional garden design not in the book (complete with watercolor illustration as well!) but took photos of each step. I used this bonus design not just as an extra value for those who pick up the course, but also as a tool to teach people how to actually create their OWN garden designs. There’s a myth that you need a professional landscaper or software programs worth hundreds of dollars and that’s simply not true. With the techniques explained in the book, and the step-by-step how-tos in the course, a reader could create their own design just like I did without buying any fancy computer programs or software at all.

O2O: What were your writing habits?

AE: I wrote a lot at our local library. My family had just moved to a new home when I signed the contract so our internet is limited. Now, it’s a very high limit, but when you’re dealing with hundreds of high-resolution, gorgeous full-color photographs, that data can be quickly consumed. The rural library in our new community was so helpful in acquiring books for research, sometimes rather obscure, and allowing me extra time at the computers for massive file uploads and downloads.

O2O: What was the best advice that another writer gave you about writing?

AE: Two books have truly inspired me as a writer, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott  and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Taken together these two books have moved me past many a pity-party and into concrete action. I highly recommend them.

O2O: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?

AE: Start with your outline. Once that is secured you’ll know what you need to do and can even begin scheduling time to get it done. It’s much easier to get where you want to go when you know where that is. For fiction writers, something like StoryGrid would be a highly effective version of a Table of Contents that would help you be as successful as possible. I think writer’s often shy away from an outline because they are afraid it will stifle the creative process. What I find, however, is that it frees me to up to stop thinking analytically (“Which section should I write next?” or “Who is in this scene?”) and allows me to stay in my creative brain since all the boring details are already in place for me.

O2O: Will you write another book?

AE: Yes!

Where to buy Gardening Like a Ninja:

Giveaway! (closed)

Angela has generously offered a Gardening Like a Ninja – An Edible Landscaping book AND digital course to a lucky One2One Network member! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us which edible plant is your favorite to grow OR if you’ve not grown any edibles, which one you want to plant first. Giveaway ends Sunday, May 1, 2016; winner will be drawn and notified the week of May 2nd.

***Congrats to Maureen, comment #2, on winning the Gardening Like a Ninja book & digital course!***

 

More about Angela

Angela England is the founder of Untrained Housewife and Homestead Bloggers Network. She lives with her husband and five children in rural Oklahoma where she enjoys horseback riding. She is the content and social strategy director at Element Associates and blogs about blogging at AngEngland.com. In everything she does, her desire is to move people from feeling overwhelmed, to confident in their next step.

*No Purchase Necessary. Void Where Prohibited By Law. Entry period will run from Thursday, April 21, 2016 through midnight (PT), Sunday, May 1, 2016. Entries must be received in those time frames to be valid. Contest is open to One2One Network members, 18 years of age or older, and a resident of the United States of America. Winner will be chosen via random draw and notified via email. Please see Official Rules for Giveaways.

3 Comments

  1. Lindsey H says:

    I love basil and peppermint!! They go with almost everything!

  2. Lavender is my favourite to bake with!

  3. Samantha H says:

    I have not grown anything yet, but I just bought a raised bed. I would love to grow Dill and Basil! This would be the perfect way to start