Keeping those summer blues away
May 27, 2011 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I'll be away from my friends for the summer while working, and I'd like to pick up a hobby. I don't even know where to start.

I have a general interest in learning more about the following:

- gardening
- bicycles
- guitar
- drawing
- programming

At the risk of stretching myself too thin, I only plan on looking into these in the most basic sense. I have the basics needed for each thing (room for a garden, a bike, an acoustic guitar, hands), I just have no idea where to go to learn about them. If anyone could point me in the right direction, it'd be greatly appreciated.
posted by Echobelly to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Gardening: Since I do a bit of this myself, are you looking at flower gardening, or vegetable gardening? I would vote vegetable gardening if you have a non-front-yard space to grow things, because let me tell you ... oh man does it taste good. Start off with a good variety of tomato, maybe a roma or something, some pole beans, maybe a row of carrots and a few onions. If you have a local nursery, they can probably point you toward the best varieties to grow for this year. Make sure you get a cage for the tomatoes, and a trellis for the beans to climb up.

Bikes? Local bike shop. You don't need something super fancy; I lean toward fat-tire mountain bikes for my transportation needs, because I occasionally like to go off-road and those skinny road tires don't like that idea much.

Again, a local music shop could point you toward videos, sheet music, and possibly local individuals that will help you learn the basics of guitaring.

Drawing? That is EASY. Grab a piece of paper and something solid to put underneath it, a pencil, and sit down for two hours. Draw the major features in outline first and fill in the details. Doodle EVERYTHING. Waiting for ten minutes at the doctor? Whip out a piece of paper and doodle one of those glass jars they have all over the place. You can also pick up a lern2drawnoob book at most bookstores.

I have no idea where to suggest for programming. The last programming I did was HTML 4, and I still have the occasional nightmare with an HTML tag in it. Creeepy.

And yes, I mentioned local places every time. I'm a huge advocate of locally-owned places, because you're helping out an actual member of your community, not a faceless corporation. (/soapbox) Plus, they can sometimes give REALLY good advice.

(on preview: nathancaswell, that link is returning a 403. just sayin.)
posted by Heretical at 12:48 PM on May 27, 2011

Dan Smith is a guitarist somewhat famous for spamming New York City with posters that proclaim, in giant letters, "DAN SMITH WILL TEACH YOU GUITAR."

In all seriousness though, his website is (or was, in the mid-90s, when I used to visit it) a good resource for beginner guitar players.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:59 PM on May 27, 2011

I bike, but don't really view it as a hobby, as such, I just ride it and fix it when it breaks. I end up looking up instruction videos on youtube occasionally to learn to fix it, or, yes, visiting a local bike shop. (BIKE shop, mind you. The bike/ski/skate/whatever shops tend to have inflated prices and less knowledgeable employees)

For "LURN 2 DRAW" books, the one I'd recommend is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. There are a lot of bad such books out there, but that one made a huge difference to how I draw.

Programming is not a hobby, it's a giant rabbit hole that will devour your mind.
posted by RobotHero at 1:04 PM on May 27, 2011

For programming, I must suggest python. There are good internet resources. is one. PM me for a pdf of a college python textbook.
posted by zug at 1:19 PM on May 27, 2011

I've had a lot of success with Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and the website
posted by Clambone at 2:23 PM on May 27, 2011

I second Python. Built-in interpreter and editor, lightweight, easy to install. PHP is solid, too, provided you're comfortable setting up a local Apache server and don't mind running everything through your web browser.
posted by clorox at 3:17 PM on May 27, 2011

Tons of Python resources:

Learn Python The Hard Way
posted by gregglind at 3:30 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would suggest contacting your town's Park and Recreation Department and taking a class. The classes are usually cheap and a lot of fun, plus they're a social outlet, which you might appreciate while you're away from your friends. And look at classes in surrounding towns, as well. I've taken yoga classes in one town, belly dancing in another, and an online class on starting a business. You might also search for MeetUp groups near you.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:07 PM on May 27, 2011

I recommend biking, especially if the bike you have is a road bike. Find a nearby bike shop and ask about any weekly rides they have for beginners. It's a good way to meet people, get in shape and have a lot of fun. I lived in the middle of nowhere last summer and spent a lot of time biking. You get to see areas you would never drive in a car.
posted by raeka at 4:30 PM on May 27, 2011

One of the best ways to get inspired by gardening is to visit gardens. Check out any arboretums, open gardens, friends' gardens, etc. That way, you can get a feel for the type of gardens that you like vs. what you have to work with. "Gardening" can cover huge territory: bonsai, topiary, flower bedding, French intensive vegetable, knot gardens made of herbs and boxwood, alpine rockeries, water gardens, orchids, and so on. Pick something you are intrigued by and dive in. Don't forget eBay and Craigslist for bargains on equipment and plants. Also the local library should have lots of books for browsing. You will fail from time to time-- try to grow the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place-- but with some research hopefully your failures will be few and inexpensive.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:16 PM on May 27, 2011

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