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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Build an Alien Garden or Write a Book About It

Estimated read time: 8 minutes

People make money writing on the Internet.  Some people make a lot of money writing on the Internet.  I simply want to make my weekend beer money writing on the Internet and this blog ain't doing it.  Since starting this blog, I've made enough to buy four Bud Tall Boys and that's it.  It remains a mystery to me how people make a living writing on the Internet.

One of obstacle of making money comes in the form of ad blockers.  On this blog, I have one little, non-intrusive ad near the top.  That, by itself, doesn't generate a whole lot of money.  If you don't see the ad up there, you have an ad blocker app running.  I make nothing on computers using ad blockers.

I'm a purist, though.  A blog shouldn't become an advertising billboard with columns of ads on the right and trending stories underneath, trending stories designed for the purpose of generating more ad revenue.  I've come across my share of big name websites that dim my screen with a drop down sign informing me they rely on ad money.  I'm instructed to whitelist (allow ads on) their site so they can continue to provide free material.  I never do.  I'm not there to read ads.

With my purist attitude and my firm commitment never to ask a reader to whitelist me so that I could buy four more Bud Tall Boys by the end of the year, I began a search on how to make money writing on the Internet.  I came across this article by Steve Gillman on The Penny Hoarder on how he made $2,000 in one month on an ebook he wrote in one night.  From the article, I gathered that this guy, who's a good twenty years younger than I, has made a living writing on the Internet for at least the last five years.

I already knew blogging isn't how you make money directly...unless you have hundreds of thousands of visitors per day and your blog is plastered with ads and articles hidden in between the ads somewheres.  The blog is a tool to help land public speaking gigs and promoting books.  Up until I read Mr. Gillman's article, I thought publishing a book meant investing a few thousand dollars to self publish.  Turns out, publishing a book can be completely free thanks to the Internet. 

"Ok, if he can do it, so can I," I thought to myself.  As we seen with the 2016 election, one doesn't need to be talented and know something to succeed at a career.  One only needs to do it and pretend they know what they're doing.

Mr. Gillman's article inspired me to write my first ebook.  I'm an expert at nothing, but nothing created the universe and everything we know in one big bang.  I'm not aiming for that grandeur.  I just need some extra beer money.  This is where you get to help me.  Below is my introduction for my ebook, Build an Alien Garden.  What I need to know is if you were browsing the ebook section of Amazon and came across this intro, would your interest in the book be piqued?  Would you shell out a buck or two to learn more?  Would a hundred bucks for the book be asking too much?

Ok, I know the answer to the last question.  I don't need that much beer anyway.  So here goes:

Here's a challenge for you.  Next time you take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood, pay attention to people's yards.  What do you see?  Take note of the lawns, gardens, bushes and trees.  Do you notice a consistent theme?  If an alien walked your dog with you, he would ask, "Are you and your kind a species of 'monkey see, monkey do'?"  If you paid attention, as the alien learning about earth would, you would see what he saw - sameness with little variation.

You'd pass front yard after front yard with a grassy expanse.  Off to the right (sometimes left) grows a small tree ten to twenty feet high, usually a Japanese red maple or a crape myrtle.  Once in awhile, someone will throw in a dogwood or flowering cherry to be different.  In the center of the grassy expanse, a bird bath may sit - more as a decoration than a maintained watering hole for our feathered friends.

The tree will be neatly mulched in about a six-foot diameter.  To mark off the mulched area, a circle of rocks, sea shells painted white, or a small edging fence circles the tree.  Shade loving plants, usually annual impatiens with a perennial fern or two for texture variation call the mulched area home.  Nestled in the plants will be a small garden statue, most likely a frog, rabbit, or gnome.

Extending three- to four-feet out from the house, and usually wrapping around the side of the house, are the long flower beds.  At each corner of the house will be a small conical evergreen tree, the Alberta spruce being a favorite.  If the conical evergreen is too formal looking for the home owner's taste, roses, dwarf hydrangeas, nandinas, and hawthorns are good substitutes.  In between the bushes are evenly spaced perennials, most likely phlox and coneflowers (for the mid summer blooms), chrysanthemums (for the fall bloom), and daisies (for the late spring and early summer blooms).  Daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth bulbs have the early to mid spring covered and annuals such as vinca, petunias, and gazanias fill in between the perennials after the spring bulbs are done blooming.  

If the homeowner has a mailbox, the base of the mailbox is planted in a similar fashion to the tree, only smaller in diameter.  It will be mulched and cordoned off to match the tree.  Instead of ferns as a perennial, a trellis a bit higher than the mailbox rises from the back to support a vine.  The vine is almost always a variety of dwarf clematis.  Coming around from the trellis is a thick growth of flowering annuals.  Almost always the flowers will be petunias, although interspersed may be a coleus or two for texture and color variation.  At the end of summer as the petunias and coleus wind down, they will be replaced with marigolds, a fall favorite, and pansies, a winter favorite.

There might be some specialty differences, but equally predictable as the rest of the yard.  If there is a door to the outside near the kitchen, an herb garden may be growing on either side of the door entrance for easy harvesting while cooking dinner.  The vegetable garden, if there is one, will be in the backyard towards one of the far corners.  Even rarer in a yard than a vegetable garden is the water pond.  If there is one, it'll be located closer to the house, most likely off to the side of the patio opposite the entrance to the backyard so no one will fall into it.  Instead of looking like a natural feature of the backyard, it will look more like an out-of-place fancy hole in the ground to hold koi or goldfish.

Is your yard a "monkey see, monkey do" design?

It'd be easy to fix the "monkey see, monkey do" look if you were walking around the neighborhood with a real alien.  You could ask him for seeds from his planet and have something growing in your yard no one else has.  Since aliens aren't known to stroll around our neighborhoods, the option of growing plants in a garden from another planet is unlikely.  But that little hiccup shouldn't stop you from planting an alien garden.  Plant a bog garden.

Ok, the plants are of this earth, but bog plants meet the alien look definition.  They eat insects, too and most will over winter with minimal care.  A bog garden is easy to build and maintain and can provide a great learning experience for children.  The best part: you'll most likely be the only one in your neighborhood growing this alien looking garden.

One word of warning, though.  Since we are a species of "monkey see, monkey do," don't tell your neighbors how easy and cheap it is to build a bog garden.  That'll be our secret.


TL;DR Folks:
Bad news, folks.  I'm asking your opinion so please grab a beer and read the article so you know what I'm asking.


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Posted by A Drunk Redneck

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