Wednesday, January 11, 2012

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Organizing the garden


My collection of plant tags
I started out with the best of intentions. All I wanted to do is organize my gardening information in one place. Now, I’m back where I started.

For the past five years, I’ve been saving every plant tag, receipt and invoice with plans to eventually set up a spreadsheet or start a garden journal. That has never happened though. Just too many plants, too little time.

With the New Year, though, I resolved to make a fresh start. I would take my bulging file folder with all that information and turn it into something useful. Surely there was a ready-made solution out there for me. I checked out several possibilities: bound journals, three-ring binder systems, computer software and on-line garden tracking services.

None of these turned out to be exactly what I wanted. Most were strong in some areas but weak in others. Many were pricey and/or not that user friendly. And the idea of spending even more time at the computer keyboard than I already do just wasn’t that appealing.

I'm a bit discouraged but a garden organizer still sounds like a good winter project. How else can I track which plants I have in my garden, especially when those baby bunnies nibble on my perennial geraniums? (Let's see. Was that a Rozanne or Johnson’s Blue?)

I’d also like to track bloom times, bulb locations, fertilization, pruning, pests and soil analysis/amendments. A “to do” list and a plant “wish list” would be nice as well.

So I’m now in the process of using Microsoft Word and Excel to create pages like those I found online.

If you're interested, check out the garden journal templates at gardensandcrafts.com and Hobby Farm. Other templates on the Web include Homestead Garden, Gardening Quick n Easy and Northern Gardening. The University of Illinois Extension has an especially nice garden journal page for kids. If you're a seed starter or vegetable gardener, there's Arbico Organics and Blue Boardwalk.

Wish me luck. If I get really ambitious, I may splurge on a customized three-ring binder. It all depends on how far I get before the first plants emerge this spring.

After that, all bets are off.

By Karen Geisler

10 comments:

  1. Ah, yes, I know that dream of being completely organized some day. I've kept a garden spreadsheet for several years, but it's mostly been for keeping track of what's in bloom when in what part of the garden. A couple of years ago, it occurred to me to add a page with a plant inventory, and last year I started saving tags for newly purchased plants with the idea that I would scan them and add them to the plant listings in the inventory. How many tags have I scanned and entered thus far? Not a single one! (Sigh) Still, I can dream of getting completely organized. -Jean

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  2. Jean -- Well at least we have a plan and that's a good first step. I saw your post about your spreadsheet and really like the idea of color-coding the text to the flower color. Will have to try it if I ever get that far! -- Karen

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    Replies
    1. Color-coding does sound like a great idea!

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  3. I always wanted to catalog the garden plants, but never got around to it. It has changed so much through the years that the original drawings are of little help. Good luck!

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  4. Not only do I wish you luck, but please let us know how you do. Like you, I have folders and tins filled with labels and tags and seed packets -- all with the best of intentions to get it organized. If only I didn't have to go to a job each day.

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  5. Thanks for these wonderful resources. I, too, have my plant tags scattered about and have often thought I should organize them. I especially want to organize them when I am looking for one. :)

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