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Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

Posted by Noreen32 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 20:20

I have been gardening as long as I can remember and friends often ask me for advice. When I just tell them, they often forget and ask again and again. When I try to write it down, they end up losing the paper or e-mail. I would love to give them all the information in a format that they can reference again every year.

So, I need ideas. How do you keep all your gardening information organized (planting times, varieties, tips and tricks, disease info, etc.)? TIA!!!

This post was edited by Noreen32 on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 20:22

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

I have some similar experience regarding the asking again and again part because I myself have done it a couple of times, asking my more experienced gardener friends for advice. The key here is to be patient. There are simply too many things to learn for growing different vegetables successfully, from watering technique to seed saving. It is inevitable for most newbie inexperienced gardeners to ask the same questions multiple times. Some things just could not be fully understood by simply listening. People have to keep doing it and try to get the hang of it as they go.

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

  • Posted by ZachS z5 Littleton, CO (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 22:52

I keep a journal. Sometimes, it's a hand written journal in a notebook, other times, I type into the computer. I list everything that I feel is pertinent. Germination times, notable changes (good and bad) and general progress and what I've done. Some folks track weather but it's so variable year to year I don't bother. The main problem for me is remembering to sit down and do it.

If you type it into the computer, it would be easy to print it for others, if you want to up the ante, put the pages in the protective sleeves and in a three ring binder (that's what I do at the end of every season) and give the binder to them, probably they are much less liable to loose a whole binder then a single folded up piece of paper.

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

A spreadsheet map works OK for me for most of the things you mentioned. The map usually contains the layout and planting dates.
On a seperate "Seed starting" spreadsheet I identify seeding info, germination estimates and followup transplanting dates. Germination info is then later recorded on my seed inventory spreadsheet which lists the purchase date, source and approx quantity of seeds. I save files from each year and often refer to them or printed versions which float around on clipboards.
I never refer to these records as tips or tricks but think of it as procedure, sometimes incorrect. I even have seed orders on spreadsheets for reference. I add columns that don't get sent with the order describing variety characteristics that I liked causing the order.
My suggestion is that you stick to a spreadsheet program throughout. I like MS Excel but others work fine.

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

Since you are in Z 6, you could use the 2014 West Virginia Garden Calendar as a start. It has planting dates for veggies and small fruits, including dates for a big fall garden. One of these days I want to make my own calendar, which will meld the WV extension info with my records, which are kept in a detailed journal.

Here is a link that might be useful: WV garden calendar

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

I use Evernote or a blog. Then that email or paper you just wrote for your friend can be the beginnings of a blog entry...and if they or someone else asks you the same question again, just point them to the blog.

At the same time, it's a place for me also. Like others said, there is so much information. If I later want to review something, such as my previous search results for how to use an Earthgrow box, I can reference the Evernote note or the blog entry that I put up from before.

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

Like bmoser, I use a spreadsheet. Main folder shows the yearly Fall and Spring layouts. It includes current/active garden, future/planned garden, and historical garden information. I just keep adding rows to the spreadsheet. A second folder shows Notes (things to remember). Other less-used folders contain spacing distances in inches for a given # of plants in my rows, seeding dates (which I don't keep up with anymore), conversions for # seeds per oz, g, tsp, etc..

As an example....I have a row based rectangular garden which is 28.5 ft by 78 ft. The most used folder would be the one showing the garden layout. The top 30 spreadsheet rows show the future planned Fall 2014 Garden layout. Rows 31 through 60 show the current Spring 2014 Garden layout, Rows below show past yearly Fall/Spring Garden layouts. The garden layouts help me to plan row spacing and plant location for the current (Spring) garden while factoring in how this impacts the future (Fall) garden.

I started using the spreadsheet method in 2004. Prior to this I had a paper-based system. It was far too cumbersome to keep up with. I find the spreadsheet approach to be much more efficient.

This post was edited by grandad on Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 9:26

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 11:50

Detailed garden journals that included layout maps were all most of us had to use for many decades and they worked very well. You just had to remember to make the entries. :)

Now days there are many other options and if the primary goal is to share the info with others then an online blog they can refer to with your articles and tips organized by both topic and date would seem to be ideal.


RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

Thanks ceth_k, for your insights! I guess it can be quite overwhelming with so much information available. I certainly get that feeling in other areas that I'm not so comfortable in and tend to ask multiple times when I'm not 100% sure.

I wonder if that is why many people will start to garden and then stop because they are not successful right away. And then end up thinking they don't have what it takes to garden.

Lesson learned! I will continue to encourage my friends to ask questions over and over again. :)

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

ZachS, I like to idea of a binder! And you are right, I would it would be much harder to loose a whole binder.

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

bmoser and grandad...those sound like sophisticated systems you have in place. But I like the idea of tracking information in spread sheets. I will have to think about a format that would work well for beginners. Thanks!

digdirt...Yes, the remembering to make entries part is the challenge. :) Most of my friends are busy moms and they need something that is convenient and provides all the info they need in one place. I will have to think about the blog idea some more. You might be on to something there. Thanks!

RE: Need ideas�Keeping gardening information organized

planatus...thanks for the link to garden calendar. That's a great idea!

gardenper...I also use evernote for works and personal stuff. Though, I always end up with so much information in there and something it takes a while to find what I need. I guess my biggest problem is figuring out how to organize all the information.

Is it more useful to have the information organized by month (e.g. in March you do xyz, in April it's...)? Or do you organize it by vegetable/topic (e.g. tomatoes, soil, starting seeds indoors,etc.)? Hhhmm...I'm thinking both would be very handy for new gardeners.

Well, thank you all for your input!

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