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I'm just starting gardening in Central Florida and want to keep a database of plants with some of the following information:
size when bought
Does anyone know of a program such as an excel spreadsheet template, utility, online program etc. that would work. I can build a database from scratch (I have the program and know how, but just don't want to do that much work)
You can use Excel very easily for this and you don't need a pre-made template. Simply make the rows your plant names and the columns all the other things you want to compile (color, watering needs, etc.).
As a db developer in MS Access I would recommend Access *IF you will be generating a substantial amount of data. As for data collected, you are on the right path you want to break it up as much as possible which will enable you to do more extensive reporting.
Data entry can be made easy with drop boxes and forms (excel also)
In Access your db might take all of 20 min that would include sub tbls forms and a report or two.
Would be glad to help if you need it, what program were you referring to?
size when bought
I have done something like this in Excel, but not for my home garden.
I put all sorts of info in individual columns so it is all searchable. The info is in a standardized format, using just a few words, always in the same order.
I do landscape design, so am constantly asking...
"OK, for this spot in the Smith plan, I need a plant that will grow 3' max, and is a woody shrub for shade in a dry part of the yard."
...and many many similar questions. Detailed questions.
So I put all that info in different columns and on different sheets so I can narrow down my choices.
What zones (Western Garden Book or USDA)
Water requirements in simplified terminology so it is searchable.
Drainage requirements or tolerances
Deciduous or evergreen, and the time of the year it is dormant
Pruning requirements or tolerances
Ways to grow (Tree, multi-trunk, espallier, ground cover, column, hedge and a lot more)
Several descriptions, in different columns, describing on how it is grown, what the leaves look like, timing and color of flowers, fruit, edible or other uses, fragrance...
Warnings such as if it is poisonous, or invasive
Common pests or diseases
While this may be way over what you want or need, when you are starting a DB for your own home, I would suggest that you do keep each bit of info in a separate column, and keep to standardized terms.
An example of how I standardized the info:
A plant might grow in any amount of sun or shade, and I use just a few terms to sort this: Su, pt Su, pt Sh, Sh are all the terms I use. For plants that grow in the sun the entry might read:
Su = Full sun only, Will not handle shade
Su-pt Su = Best in sun, part sun OK
pt Su-Su = Best in part sun, full sun OK
(See how keeping it in the proper order is important?)
Su-Sh = plant will grow in the full range from full sun to full shade. (Not many of these!)
I was already quite familiar with Excel, so setting it up as a DB was really easy for me, and something I can carry to work (I do the design for a company) and home (I also do design on my own) and have the program work on all the computers.
I find it easiest to do this with a workbook of several spreadsheets. One is a grid of bloom times. Look down the column for whatever month to see what blooms then. You can use the little red corner notes to add specific dates, or type dates in the column for the first month of the bloom, X's in succeeding columns, as long as the blooms last. Also handy for noticing really long-bloomers and maybe not-so-worthwhile short-bloomers.
One sheet is a table of bloom colors. I chose color in the above grid to indicate other things, but the writing color could eliminate the need to separate these two for some people. You can add whatever columns you want to your "main sheet." Sort a sheet by a particular column to see plants grouped in that way.
Then there are other sheets for lists I might want to keep, like which plants are visited by butterflies or hummers, to see if there are gaps in food sources, night bloomers, fragrant bloomers, whatever you want to list.
A sheet to list things I want - and WHY, where I think it should go.
A sheet for house plants.
When I had bunnies, I had a sheet to list what they did and did not eat.