Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On gardening journals and databases....

I have tried to maintain a gardening journals every year for awhile now. I'm not very good at it. I always have great intentions. I see a beautiful gardening journal at the book store and have to buy it, usually in the winter. I start out with great intentions, I list all my plants or the seeds that I winter sow, but once spring hits and the gardening time gets busy, the journal is left behind. I do keep tags and seed packs and am pretty good at writing the date planted or sowed on them.

This past summer I decided to start an Excel journal. This worked out much better for me. I was able to put a digital picture with each listing, with growing information, planting location, etc. Problem with the Excel file though, it grew so huge that it took forever to open, forever to save. I did everything I could to reduce the file size, but with 102 tabs totalling 17,599 kb, it was just to much. I transferred everything over into Power Point, which took a lot of time, but it is much more efficient. It is also quite nice to be able to open it in a presentation and just watch all the images of flowers. The first three pages of the presentation are a preview of all my plants, or plants that I am starting by winter sowing or direct sowing.
I still have an Excel file, I call it my Bloom Calendar. It lists 130 trees and plants (this isn't complete either!) and has columns for each month. I printed this out and have hand written in all of the bloom dates, plus any additional information relating to winter sowing dates, etc. I still need to copy all of this information into the file on the computer. It is quite handy to look at it and see which months I have the least amount of things blooming, that way I know that I need to get. It would be quite nice if there was a way to integrate the Excel file with the Power Point presentation. Then I could click on a listing in the Bloom Calendar and it would take me directly to the plant listing in the Power Point database. Maybe there is way to do this? Maybe some nice person will come along and tell me how to do it!

Anyway, I give the electronic "journal" much more attention than the hand written journals. I'm not good at printing out pictures, so the written journals were quite bare. On the other hand, I would love to print out the database, but I think I would have to take it somewhere and pay an arm and a leg, rather than use up multiple ink cartriges for my "book". It is growing, my Power Point journal, so much so that it really has taken on a life of its own. It is great to put in comments about the plants, where they came from, how well they perform, whether I like it or not. I even have notes to rip some plants out come spring (like Yellow Loosestrife, although very colorful, I do not like it!). Power Point is somehow much more efficient with its data than Excel, the database, with 135 pages containing 67,736 kb of information, is quick to open, quick to save, and quick to close.

1 comment:

Petunia's Gardener said...

Very interesting. I've been pondering what to track in the blog, what to track in excel and is there any other good options. I wouldn't have thought of powerpoint. I'll have to take a look. I agree the paper one's always are appealing but never maintained. Thanks for sharing!