Tyler Baras has a range of urban agricultural experience from homesteading to commercial hydroponics. While completing his B.S. in Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida, he traveled overseas to study Organic Agriculture in Spain and Protected Agriculture (greenhouse production) in China. After graduation, he worked as a grower for 3 Boys Farm Inc., one of the first certified organic hydroponic farms in the United States. In 2013, Tyler moved to Denver, Colorado where he worked as the hydroponic farm manager at The GrowHaus. He managed a profitable urban farm while creating a successful hydroponic internship program with a 90% job placement rate for graduates. While at The GrowHaus, Tyler started creating educational videos and blog posts about farm tech which are available on his website FarmerTyler.com. In 2015, Tyler moved to Dallas, Texas where he managed the Dallas Grown hydroponic greenhouse and worked as Special Projects Manager for Hort Americas, a commercial hydroponic equipment distributor. While in Dallas, Tyler wrote one of the best-selling hobby hydroponic books, DIY Hydroponic Gardens: How to Design and Build an Inexpensive System for Growing Plants in Water. In 2017, Tyler wrote Roadmap to Growing Leafy Greens and Herbs, an educational book for new growers and investors interested in commercial hydroponic production of leafy greens in greenhouses and indoor farms. In 2018, Tyler moved to San Francisco, California where he worked as the New Product Development Senior Grower at the indoor vertical farming company Plenty. In 2020, Tyler relaunched FarmerTyler.com offering horticultural consulting services and education video content available on Urban Ag News YouTube and Farmer Tyler YouTube.
Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?
“Home Hydroponics: Small-space DIY growing systems for the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, and bath” is my third book on hydroponic gardening. Most hydroponic gardens look like a maze of PVC pipes, including many hydroponic garden designs described in my previous books, but in my latest book I detail 14 different DIY hydroponic garden designs that heavily prioritize the aesthetics of the garden while maintaining their functionality.
Did you choose self or traditional publishing?
My first two books were written concurrently with one semi-self published and the other published by Cool Springs Press/Quarto. My latest book was also published by Quarto. I was very fortunate to be recommended to Quarto by fellow garden blogger Shawna Coronado, who I met at a garden blogging event. Shawna has authored many books and when she found out Quarto was looking for a hydroponic expert she recommended me. I had a few calls with Quarto to discuss potential book ideas then I drafted a table of contents for approval. Once approved we got into all of the details like timeline and photography.
All through high school and college I absolutely hated writing. I never would have imagined writing a book but the fact that my book deals were generated from my expertise in hydroponics and not my writing prowess oddly increased my writing confidence. I knew Quarto would help with proofreading/editing to ensure I met at least a minimum level of ‘readability’ haha and I could focus on the quality of the content.
Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?
I typically write a book over four to six months. The first two months are primarily focused on garden design, construction and maintenance which total around 30 hours per week. Then I transition to writing which starts around 20-30 hours per week for months three and four then jumps up to 30-60 hours per week in the last two months. I set chapter completion benchmarks throughout the writing months to help ensure I’m on pace. I’ve always been a procrastinator and unfortunately, I’m most inspired to write when up against a deadline. I don’t limit my writing to specific days or times of day, sometimes I work best early in the morning and other times I’ll work late into the night. Oddly I find I’m most productive when working in loud busy spaces like bars and restaurants.
How did you come up with your images and graphics?
For images, I primarily rely on hired photographers. I also source some images from stock photo companies and hydroponic equipment manufacturers. For graphics, I rely on the publisher’s art director and graphics team. I do provide some input on images and graphics but I know my expertise is primarily in hydroponics/gardening so I gladly accept assistance with photography and graphics from others.
Do you have any more books that you have written or plan to write and publish? What are your plans for them?
I currently do not have plans to write any additional books. The book writing process is exhausting and each time I’ve finished a book I promise myself that I’ll never write another… so far I’ve had a hard time keeping that promise to myself.
How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?
I personally do not actively work towards obtaining book reviews but my publisher does distribute some free copies to get early reviews. Reading book reviews can be difficult but my experience as a YouTuber has helped thicken my skin. People are far harsher in YouTube comments than they are in Amazon book reviews haha. Fortunately, my books have generally been well received with high ratings and positive comments so if I do find myself feeling down after reading a negative review I can simply scroll up to read a positive one haha.
Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?
Audio. I like doing physical tasks like gardening while listening to books. Unfortunately, my books are not well suited for the audio format as they rely on photos for DIY build guides.
There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?
I don’t have much insight into the publishing landscape so it’s difficult for me to say.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I wish I had advice but I personally feel like I stumbled into being an author. Perhaps try to make friends with other authors?
Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?
I really like Tom Standage’s “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” and “An Edible History of Humanity”. The last book I read was the horticultural textbook “Plant Empowerment”… I primarily read educational books and journal articles.
How do I find you on the Internet?
For more on Tyler Baras please visit www.FarmerTyler.com.
DIY Hydroponic Gardens: How to Design and Build an Inexpensive System for Growing Plants in Water
Publisher | Amazon
Roadmap to Growing Leafy Greens and Herbs
Publisher | Amazon
Home Hydroponics: Small-space DIY growing systems for the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, and bath
Publisher | Amazon