Resources for learning about topics such as handy work and camping
July 30, 2022 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I would like to learn about home maintenance/improvement, landscaping/gardening, and camping/being outdoors. Please recommend good resources for learning about any of these.
posted by kinddieserzeit to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The Home Depot 1-2-3 series has you covered on home related stuff.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:51 PM on July 30, 2022

In general: youtube. I am a moderate DIY'er, long-time gardener, relatively new (as an adult at least) camper and about to be a vanlifer, and everything I know I learned from youtube. Repair and DIY have truly been a "search until I find exactly the demonstration I needed" because a lot of that is hyper specific to your use case/air conditioner/pool pump/drain problem, but I certainly can recommend See Jane Drill and The Honest Carpenter for general technique and tool use. My personal favorite gardening channels are CaliKim, The Epic Gardener, and Self-Sufficient Me, but they all have climates close to mine (in the first two cases, they actually live where I live).

Camping depends a LOT on what you want to do and how and where and climate and condition and all that, so I do a LOT of searching. But some of my current favorites are My Life Outdoors, Miranda In The Wild, amandaoutside, and then for pure Korean camp gear envy and outdoors ASMR: Rirang On Air and Mari Life.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:19 PM on July 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Back To Basics
posted by so fucking future at 7:21 PM on July 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

As with all things, choose your teachers carefully. There is a lot of nonsense on the internet that could get you in trouble.
When in doubt, go to the source. Think local.
State and local agencies that govern these areas. Adult education classes at community colleges. Clubs and special interest groups. Related businesses that have knowledgeable staff and occasionally put on workshops.

Home maintenance/improvement: Various PBS programs, including This Old House and Bob Villa. National standards guidebooks from the library (electric, plumbing, HVAC). DVDs at the library. The local government planning division (sometimes a wealth of information in smaller cities).

Landscaping/gardening: Various PBS programs, including This Old House and P. Allen Smith. DVDs at the library. Local gardening clubs and nurseries. Walking in the neighborhood and photographing what I like in season (bonus points for visiting with the neighbors).

Camping/being outdoors: Appalachian Trail-oriented websites like and Hammock camping websites like Just Jeff's Outdoor Page ( YouTube channels like shugemery (hammock hanging and general tomfoolery), sintax77 (hiking and hammock hanging), Steve Wallis (stealth camping in odd places like behind Home Depot and in highway medians).
Getting off the computer, outdoor-oriented clubs and organizations for some hands-on training and experiences. State and national parks services may have recommendations for groups in your area and also provide workshops.

Again, take any of these with a large dose of common sense. It's easy to throw a lot of money at these hobbies and wind up not using it. Mentors are a great resource when you find them, especially if they keep your head on straight about not doing the latest cool thing.
Start small. Build a bookshelf. Plan out changing a shower faucet and have someone experienced with you in case you get in a jam. Grow tomatoes and peppers in a raised bed. Borrow a tiny tent (practice setting it up in the backyard) and spend a night at the closest campground. Build on your experiences.
Have fun out there!
posted by TrishaU at 5:03 AM on July 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Riffing a little on that - magazines and TV shows/YouTube are very often dependent on advertising in a way that changes their material. Even if they don’t need a specific advertiser, they fall into the habit of looking for the new thing that could be advertised, not the skill of making what you need from what you have. This is hardest on beginners, I think, between our literal ignorance and the pain of the Valley of Suck. Later you can recognize and scoff at it.

I find collections of magazine articles, published as books or "bookazines ", often have less of that; so do books, of course. Both of them will have illustrations that are old and unfashionable, so you have to learn to see around that. But learning to pick up skills and translate them into your plan, perhaps adapting as you go, is great DIY mindset.

All that said - if you’re in the US, the magazines Family Handyman and Fine Homebuilding are beginner/aspirational, respectively.

Holmes on Homes and Jeremy Fielding bracket some construction/engineering range. Seconding See Jane Drill!

Gardening advice is so regional that I think you need to tell us where you are or find Extension/a neighbor/local low-input gardening group. The last could be designing only with native plants; or for local birds and bees; or growing the food crops that are adapted to where you are. (Tomatoes and peppers and corn are beginners plants where I was a kid and show off plants where I am now, for example, but roses are the reverse.)
posted by clew at 8:37 AM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you're in the US, check your state's conservation department for outdoors skills classes. Where I live, they offer a pretty wide variety of courses throughout the year; most of them are aimed at folks who want to learn to hunt and fish, but I've also taken orienteering and bird identification classes from them. They also offer "Becoming an Outdoorswoman" courses if you're looking for something more woman-oriented. Best part is that they're all free! Actually, the best part is that they give you a nice badge when you complete the course that you can sew on to your field bag, but the free part is great, too.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:52 AM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

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