Record Keepping

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Some pretty powerful and useful programs come preloaded on your computer or laptop. I use Windows so Microsoft programs and software that came with Microsoft Office. A couple of the best for record keeping is Excel and Access. I'll highlight a few praises and hope people chime in with their own experience and expertise.

By no means am I an expert, nor is my system foolproof, but striving for perfection gets me much closer than doing nothing. I like creating digital files because I can copy and paste much faster and easier than writing with an old fashioned pen and paper.

Everybody has something to teach and everybody has something to learn. That's why Dave's Garden (DG) is so awesome. I advocate just start and play around to see what you can do.

There's nothing like a spreadsheet, with Excel I have a workbook comprised of as many spreadsheets as I care to add. I have yet to exhaust the space or computing capabilities. Notice my named tabs at the bottom.

Screenshot #1 shows my 'Have List', there is no limitation to categories. Whatever components you want to keep track of, give it a category/heading. Don't be shy, extensive record keeping is important. The more headings you can come up with, the better for running queries. You can also sort til your hearts content for viewing only relevant information -- information you want to look at that moment, or for keeping 'most used information' at the front of the line.

Screenshot #2 shows tab 'New Seed' This is what I use to keep track of new seed and what the plant's requirements are. I can color code sun and moisture requirements and I can also sort to find out what and where I can plant in dryer locations for example. The possibilities are near endless. the bottom half of the screenshot shows what can be done via the sort for planting planning. Taller plants get planted behind medium height varieties and shorter plants get planted in front, etc.

Screenshot #3 shows an insert on the New Seed tab, this is a formula that computes for me. I have three seeds that need a moist warm stratification followed by a moist cold stratification period. All three seeds have different times for each, therefore I want to follow the recommendations first, then modify if necessary for next time. Once I've got the end dates computed, I enter those into my Outlook Calender so I get reminded when something is ready for the next step. Once they have moved to the next step, I input the date along with the required number of days to get the end date for the final step.

If you don't have or can't /don't want to afford purchasing Microsoft Office, there's a fix for that too, it's called Open Office. Here's the link to download:

Thumbnail by Mipii Thumbnail by Mipii Thumbnail by Mipii
Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)

Robin,, I had to laugh your spreadsheet is so close to what I created..... Great mines do think alike....

Really like yours.


(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

What a great spreadsheet, much more sophisticated than mine! But it's highly unlikely that I'm ever going to be motivated to do something on the PC when I can be so much more comfortable relaxing on the couch with my iPad, as I am right now.

Als, there's a glitch about to happen with the app I've been using, QuickOffice. It's been great, as I can create spreadsheets and documents on it, then save to or Dropbox in the cloud. Google has now bought my app, and in March will end that comparability. They will only upload to Google Drive. I refuse to be forced to change everything, can't believe they're ruining such a great app!

The real Office app won't be ready until later this year at best. So I'm trying to learn another app, SmartOffice, and it's all uphill. Grrrrr!

So much for my rant...

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

There is also Libre Office( )which is a split(fork) of open office. It's basically the same program although I suspect that they have drifted apart some. The split came about when the sponsoring company was sold and the question of control came up. I may have to down load both current versions to see what the differences are.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Thanks Jan. I very thankfully learned all I know from my DH.

Pam, whatever works for you! You can keep as extensive records as your trimmed down version allows...while sitting comfortably on the couch. I like my desktop because I'm constantly using my computer for everything but baking cakes. As you can see at the bottom of the screenshot, I'm working with multiple things open at any given time. If I was too comfortable, it might lead to overwork and posture

Doug, thanks for your input! If you ever learn the differences I hope you share.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I went to that site. Apparently there is a way to use the new program on the iPad, but it's not clear how. They say it works in the browser, not an app, but I was in the browser and couldn't figure it out. It's brand new, though, maybe they'll give better clues eventually.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

That's great news Pam, maybe you've also answered a fix for your Real Office app. I agree learning curves aren't much fun until you figure something out your old version couldn't do...then the good times start to roll. Check out their 'help' pages if you get stuck or post a question right here on DG's computer forums.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Meanwhile, I've never used the journals here on DG. Can I upload my spreadsheet as is, meaning complete with all the data, or do I have to enter everything again?

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Let me check Pam...

It looks like you can only add one item at a time in DG Journal but you can post a question or search for answers here:

Since it's possible to print your journal, perhaps you can also export into another the very least perhaps into an Adobe .pdf.

I also found a really nice template for a journal/diary to be used in One Note by Microsoft, download here:

This message was edited Jan 19, 2014 7:34 PM

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I took a look. I only see how to load records of individual plants, and a blog which I guess can be used as a journal. I didn't find anything resembling a spreadsheet though. I wonder if mine could be copied and pasted into the blog section. Or I could copy my journal into the blog, in case anyone wanted to wade through it.

I haven't really thought about this before, you raised an interesting topic here. Thanks!

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Hey...maybe we should ask Dave's to come up with something for us to use!!!! Melody...are you listening?

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

BlakeInCanada customised this template, there are four other thumbnails at the top. Notice on the first 'Overview' tab (at the top). This is a spreadsheet and the rest are components of a whole system for record keeping.
Here are the screenshots:

Quote from BlakeInCanada :

It has a section for plant lists, info and for instructions on each plant, divided by annual vs perennial, and a journal section to keep track of what you've done. I have pages where I've written down tips I've come across (I'm no expert so don't take them for law), a budget page, a page to visually plan my balcony garden etc.

This message was edited Jan 20, 2014 11:01 AM

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)

Robin, thanks for the link, interesting sheet, I've added a few of their titles to my sheet.


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

We do offer a journal (which can be created through PlantFiles links or manually), and a diary, as well as the seed/plant tradelist tools.

I'm not sure how feasible it would be for us to create a spreadsheet tool, or if it would be any more user-friendly than the existing tables in the journal and trading areas, but I can toss the idea out on today's conference call :-)

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Thanks! Here's hoping :-)

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Fingers are crossed!!!! I figure since there's an area to list all of our plants(which list several columns ) it could be possible.. Thanks, we hope to see how this issue can be resolved as it would be appreciated!!! Kathy

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Well that was mighty sweet of you Terry...thanks for pitching for us!

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Okay, we did briefly discuss it today and I described the request as basically a table with rows and columns where you could enter text in each cell. We talked about maybe something that could be added into the diary/blog feature. The idea definitely has merit, but I'll be brutally honest and let yo know it will not be added anytime soon. (Whether you think this is good news or bad news is up to you, but the reason why is that we have quite a few fixes and enhancements in line to roll out ahead of any new ideas :-). But we can add it to the queue for a future enhancement.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Terry, that's good news! You did well pitching the idea and brutal honesty is also appreciated. The pudding will never cook if not set on the fire. Put the capability of importing comma separated data on that burner with it (making it really easy to transfer over to using Dave's Garden).

More user friendly = more users.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I love spreadsheets - when the weather keeps me indoors. Once I get busy, they don't get updated like they should. I keep starting spreadsheets, and when I go to save them, I find out I already have one from 2-3 years ago!

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Updating is key, also keeping them in the same garden file is a good I hear ya though, its hard to do inside stuff in outside weather; however, its gotta get dark in CO sometimes.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

That's why I try to keep a journal as well, so when I look back I can try to re-construct. Sometimes it's easier than fussing with details.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Attending to details is frustrating for some people. Being a 'detail' person is probably why I don't look at it as fussing. You're lucky to find work-arounds that best suit you. Just think...if we were both the same, one of us would be unnecessary!

I'm trying to get everything I have into a database with as many details as possible. I believe it'll be faster in the long run for better time management, just updating it when something changes. I can't rely on my memory anymore, and reconstructing sounds time consuming.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.