source for online or software garden journal

proudgrma(Zone 5)August 13, 2008

Looking for a product or website where I can do my gardening journal on my computer. Anyone else do this?

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA


I have my garden journals on my hard drive. I use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for each year. I start each year whenever my gardening season starts whether that be going through bulb catalogs and ordering for the spring, or after Christmas when I start seed trading or winter sowing. I use one column for each entry and label it with the date. If I have a project I am working on, I may start a column just for that. It is very casual but I have found it very useful. I try to be very thoughtful of how I record information in the journal, so that I can use the 'search' function. For example, whenever I make a seed order, I label it seed order, so I know that if I type in 'Seed Order' in the Find window, it will bring me to every seed order I have made.

When I tried using a hand written book, I would forget to write in it all the time, or I would not remember where I put it, or when I wanted to find some information that I had written before, I would have to know the time I wrote it or look through every page of the book trying to find it. This system works SO much better.

I also have a software program on my computer that stores photos. I have found myself using the easy to use area which allows for notations on photos. I take photos when I bring home plants and then list what they are in the photo info section. I take photos of first day of bloom on my plants and label them, then again, I try to take photos when they are finished blooming so I can track how long a bloom period they are giving me. There is also an extensive list of keywords you can assign to each photo so that if you want to bring up all photos of 'shade loving perennials' you can do that. So between the annual spreadsheet, labeling and organizing my garden photos and a main list of all the plants ever planted in the garden, everything I need is in these three documents/programs.

If that doesn't seem to fit what you are looking for, then I could suggest a gardening website that allows you to keep a garden journal on it. GW does have a journaling function, and also allows you to keep track of your trade lists and clip postings that you want to keep for reference. Another choice is DG, I think you know what I mean? :-)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:27AM
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proudgrma(Zone 5)

Wow! That's a lot of record keeping. I don't think I'm quite that organized. I mostly want to keep notes of what to replace, what to divide, where I need color or a plant for a different bloom time, and new ideas or things I've learned along the way. You have given me some ideas, and I will check out the GW journaling function. Sorry, I don't know what DG is, but I'm thinking about it! Thanks for all your input.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:33AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

The website I was referring to is responsible for Garden Watchdog...sorry to be so vague, but I don't think it is something GW wants posted.

As far as my record keeping, I think this way of doing it is a refinement of many attempts to try to be more organized and it is the easiest, simplest way I have found 'for me'. The amount of what you keep track of can be a little or a lot, the main idea for me, is that all my garden notes are in one document by the year and I don't have to look for where I put it. If I recorded it at all, it is in that one document. If I had to cut out keeping up with organizing my photos, or even my main garden plant list, I could live with just that one yearly document. And you don't have to remember any elaborate system, just one column for each day you make a note, even if it is just a small paragraph or a single plant name. Ending with the end of the gardening season, when you then start a new one.

Hope you find something that works for you...!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 11:43AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I use Excel for my record keeping too. I tried just writing it down in a spriral notepad, but it was a mess. I have created three separate documents:

Perennials/Shrubs Chart, which lists everything in the garden alphabetically, and has columns for date planted, # of plants, bloom start date, weeks of bloom, height, zone hardiness. This chart is pretty maintenance free and only gets updated about twice a year, once I know what has survived the winter, and once when I'm done planting out for the year in the fall.

Germination Chart, which is a list of everything being grown from seed for that year. It is separated into annuals, perennials, herbs, and vegetables. It also has columns for date planted, # of seeds planted, method of germ. (wintersown, direct sown, sown indoors), germ. date, date planted out, # of seedlings planted out. At the beginning of each year, I print this chart out with all of my seeds listed on it, then fill in all of the blanks for dates etc. by hand as I go.

Seed Inventory, again separated by annuals, perennials, herbs, and veggies. It has columns for date purchased or harvested, DTM (days to maturity) for veggies, and the quantity of each seed. This one is probably the hardest to keep up with. I have a printed copy that I use to keep up with trades and purchases, but the computer version gets outdated fairly quickly.

As far as noting what to do different next year, I don't use these documents for that. I have sketched out the garden beds on a piece of graft paper, and drawn in pencil everything in each bed. Underneath each map is where I make my notations. When it comes time to move plants around, I take my maps and a pencil with me, to be sure the changes get noted. A computer program wouldn't help me with this, since I would forget it all by the time I came back inside, LOL!

As far as storing the photos, I created a folder on my hard drive for each type of plant, such as echinacea, gaillardia, etc., but I like Prairiemoon2's idea of being able to search for specific characteristics. What program are you using for that PM2?

I've probably given you WAY more information than you were looking for, but I thought it might give you an idea or two.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 12:18PM
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john_4b(z4b WI)

I simply start a new microsoft word document every year. I chart the garden weekly. I note what the high and low temperatures are each week, and how much rain or snow we get. I just do this every week and I can make notations of every thing I do in the garden. It's very easy to add to it daily, or weekly, or as the need arises. I can list where and what I plant, where it came from, when it blooms, whether the plants look good (or not), problems with insects or animal pests, what remedy was tried, and the results, success and failures, etc.

At the bottom of the page I list my ideas for new plants that I find interesting and want to grow, new plant combinations I see and want to try, plants that need dividing or moving, what didn't work this year, and things to remember for next spring.

I also have a complete database of all the names of the plants growing in my garden, when they were acquired, and where they came from. I try to document the seasons and events in the garden with photos so I can use them for reference.

I can search through these documents using the 'find' command, and compare from year to year, week to week, and it's interesting and fun to look back on my garden's history and my evolution and education as a gardener.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:01PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Bonnie...

I used to use the software that came with my camera..Canon. Then I switched to Apple Computer and they have the iPhoto software on it. It is like night and day using iPhoto over the old software. Really easy and fast to tag batches of photos and create 'smart albums' that will add new photos as you go along that have the same keywords or subject titles, etc. With my old software, I never organized my photos at all, barely even labeled them, because it was such a pain.

On keeping records for the garden. I used to start a lot of different documents but it got to be too much and now I just write down everything I need into that one Garden Journal document. That system has worked the longest for me of any I have tried.

John, my favorite part is the 'find' feature. I just smile every time it pulls up exactly what I was looking for. It works great!

Sorry proudgrma, I know this isn't the information you asked for. Maybe someone else uses something online?


    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:41PM
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here are some sites that I found that has printable garden journal pages

here is a ton of free printables did not check out each link so there might be something here who knows for sure.

Hope there is something in one of the above links that are you looking for.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 4:08PM
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I read in Fine Gardening that a reader recommended using a rolodex. Take cards with you into the garden, jot down notes, then put them back in the rolodex. I thought it was interesting, but I can imagine how dirty my cards would be!

I rely upon photos a lot, but my garden is now getting to the point where I want to make notes about things to do for the plants next year. I'm thinking of using my online calendar to make notes for now and set reminders for the future. Haven't started it, because I want to think it through.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 4:23PM
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proudgrma(Zone 5)

I'm going to be looking into some of the websites noted by
Paulon. Thanks for all your input!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 8:36PM
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