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Subscribe to the BBC Gardeners’ Planner with the help of Sinatra

[UPDATE] I have posted an update with a url you can use

I really like being in my garden, so I was looking at the BBC Gardening site the other day for some gardening tips. The hardest part for me, is the lack of experience I have in knowing what needs to be done and when.

The BBC Gardening website solves this by having a gardeners’ planner. Great I thought, there’s loads of really useful stuff in there. The problem is I have to keep going back to the site, to check what I’m suppose to be doing. As it’s a planner, it would be great of I could have this information to put in my own calendar, so I could see it along with other jobs I have to do. Even better if I could subscribe to this information, so if it ever changes, I’m kept up-to-date. Maybe they will provide this one day (I really think they should), but in the mean time I decided to roll my own:

Subscribing to the BBC Garden planner

I’ve created a web app that reads this planner data, and converts it into the iCal format that you can now subscribe to. It’s written using Sinatra, and I choose to run it under the awesome Passenger via mod_passenger. It’s currently not hosted anywhere (other than on my laptop), so you’ll have to run it on your own server. Maybe that will change if I can find somewhere to stick it, I’ll keep you posted. I think some caching may be needed before that happens though.

Once running on your computer of choice, you only really have one uri to stick in your calendar of choice. You can extend this uri by passing in section names to filter the information displayed in the calendar. Here’s a few examples:

# to subscribe to a calendar of everything ( quite big! )
# to subscribe to a calendar of tips on just trees, ponds and wildlife
# to view all the available sections

And here’s what it looks like in Apple’s iCal once you have subscibed:

BBC Garden planner in iCal

Get your own copy of the app from github. You get up and running in the same way you would with any Sinatra/Passenger app. The structure and config file is already written, so you really just need to do the vhost and symlinking :

Happy Gardening!

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