Q: Why should I try to figure out how to use this? I'm already confused.
A: The Garden Journal feature can help you organize and recall anything in your life, literally. Most of us use it for plants, however you could use it to organize your seed collection, your book collection, or even your family tree.
Q: What is the difference between the DG Blog feature and the Journal feature?
A: The journal feature is an organizing program, period. More or less there is no narrative that goes along with the journal. The purpose of this feature is to log the progress of each plant in your garden and track milestones...basically an electronic diary of your garden, according to Dave, who created the tool.
On the other hand, the Blog feature is a program aimed at letting you share or document stories and upload photos of your garden or life.
As an example, here's how I use my journal:
I set up a category for each of the beds at my house, i.e. "Back Curvy Bed," "Under Pinon Pine," "Herb Garden," etc. When I add a new plant to my garden, I search for it in the Plant Files and add it to my journal in the specific place I planted it. Guess what...that means I will never lose the cultivar name again! It is permanently stored on Dave's Garden in my journal. The thing I like about this is that it saves me from searching for the plant next time I want to read up on it. I just have to go to my journal and view the plant. Doesn't that make keeping up with your garden easier?
And for comparison, here's an example of how I use my blog:
I set up 3 tabs for the 3 big endeavors in my garden: Backyard Overhaul, Front yard Overhaul, and Pond Overhaul (I was starting fresh!). Every time I make progress, I take a picture of the changes and post it in my blog along with a short blip or story about what I did. I put before and after pictures, in-progress shots, and also pictures of plants so that I can see how big they are each season. I also record things like when the neighborhood Lilacs, Crabapples and Forsythias are blooming for my future reference. (There will be a DG Blog How-to series coming soon, as well.)
Q: Is this going to take forever and be really difficult?
A: No. Setting up your journal is actually SO easy if you know how to do it and have a little planning ahead of time. This 3 part series will take you through all the steps, one by one, so that you can make your own DG Journal. Even if you have tried it before and gotten lost or discouraged, give it one more shot! It's not hard!
Q: So, organizing my garden sounds like a good idea, how on earth do I do this?
A: If you go along with these steps, you will at least be familiar enough with the program to make up your own use for it. Follow me...
Begin here: http://davesgarden.com/tools/
- Click on the link "Your Gardening Journal"
*As a side note, you can always find this link on the navigation bar from any spot on Dave's. Just click on "My Tools," second from the left at the top under the Dave's Garden banner.
The most important part about the Journal is setting it up in a way that makes sense to you. If it is not helpful to you or boggles your mind every time you open it, why would you waste the time setting it up? Pause to contemplate the ways you could use this journal and go ahead and start playing around with ideas. Truly, you could use this program to make a journal about anything garden related or not. Even though it is called "Your Gardening Journal," you just have to know how to use the program to make it work for any subject.
Take a minute right now and look at how other people have used their journals. I promise that looking through other members' journals will help you to understand the tool better. Make sure to click on different journals and look at their categories and how they are organized. This is a link to people who actively (very actively) use their journals, in order of volume from the most entries to least:
(*There is a privacy setting on the Journals, so if you wouldn't want anyone seeing your journal you could opt for that setting. So don't feel like you're being sneaky getting ideas from other people! If you click on a name and it just refreshes the list, that means they have the privacy setting turned on.)
Remember you can have multiple journals. One for your garden, one for your quilts, one for your bird watching pictures, and one for your DVD (VHS, 45...) collection. Really! So don't get so wrapped up in making your journal perfect the first time, the more you play and spend time using the feature the better you will be at seeing its possibilities.
Brainstorm all the possibilities
Before you dive into the journal, you need to have a pretty good idea of how you are going to set up your journal. You can play around with it on paper first. Make a list of the categories you think you want, list a couple plants under each category (doesn't have to be perfect) and see if any particular category system is more intuitive to you.
Check back for Part 2
In Part 2 of the series, we will walk step by step through actually setting up your journal. Until then, keep planning and thinking through how you want to set up your garden journal. If you plan it out the best way for you, you're more likely to use it, keep up with it, and benefit from it.