Creating a Digital Garden Using WordPress

I very quickly realized that a lot of the systems being used to set up digital gardens were miles over my head — primarily because GitHub makes zero sense to my brain and most of my very limited coding knowledge was obtained over a decade ago in the age of Myspace. These systems were clearly far more advanced than my go-to method of “what happens when I change this line of code”.

Plus, I didn’t want another website to maintain. I had only just recently come to terms with the fact that niching-in and segmenting all of my interests was NOT the business model/branding approach for me. And the concept of digital gardens and personal wikis spoke right to the heart of that need to not split everything up. No — creating a new space was not the answer.

WordPress it is then. I knew there HAD to be a way to shape it to fit my vision for what I would like my digital garden to look and operate. This is a log of my efforts to do so.

Initial Setup – September 2020

Step 1: Creating a static page to house my garden

I started off by creating a “static” Digital Garden page to replace the default paginated blog. I use the Astra Pro theme for my site so I decided to use the Astra post grid block to display 3 random posts from a specified category.

So my block outline looks like

  • Paragraph – intro explaining the purpose of the page
  • H2 – Category Name
  • Astra post grid – set to show 3 random posts from the above category
  • H2 – Category Name
  • Astra post grid – set to show 3 random posts from the above category
  • H2 – Category Name
  • Astra post grid – set to show 3 random posts from the above category

    At the moment the 3 categories being featured are:

Step 2: Create categories to organize my garden content

So far they are as follows:

  • Collections
    • Books
    • Ideas
    • The Month: Summarized
    • Topics
  • Essays
  • Musings
  • Projects
  • Working Notes

Step 2.5: Make small tweaks to my theme

I went into the customizer to turn off pagination on individual blog pages (I believe this option is an Astra Pro feature) and then swapped out the blog page menu link to that for my garden.

Step 3: Start creating garden content! 🙃

The best, most funnest part! Some have been pushed live while others are still drafts. But honestly? I am having a blast with this new found freedom. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted and it feels so good to give myself permission to create and share the exact things I want to create and share – niching be damned.

Project Backlog

  • Research the difference between custom taxonomies and custom post types to learn how they can fit my intended use
  • Research how to use the Pod plug-in to create those taxonomies and/or post types
  • Create custom post types for each category – specifically to automate which types have comments enabled and which don’t
  • Figure out how to setup bi-directional link relationships to create an on-page table that lists other posts mentioned within the content as well as other posts that mention the post itself within their content
  • Research how to add a ‘featured image’/icon to categories
  • Edit Astra child theme to show lost edited date instead of publish date
  • Create custom headers for each category
  • Create a ‘take me to a random post’ button

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