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Online journal - getting started

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Several of you have asked me (and perhaps other DG'ers) for help setting up your journal. There are two ways to approach a garden journal: very simple (the "spiral notebook" approach), or more complex (before I found DG, I kept a three-ring journal with categories for trees, perennials, annuals, purchases, seeds, etc. - much more complicated.)

From the sound of things, many of you are "spiral notebook" journal-types, which is perfectly fine, and very easy to do with the online journal here (I promise :)

Open up your journal. Scroll down to "Manage Categories" and add a name (maybe "2002 Journal" or whatever makes sense to you.)

Hit submit.

Go to your Main Page (link in the right-hand column)

Scroll down to "Access by Category" and click on the category name you just created.

Click on "Add an Item."

Now you'll see boxes for Common name, genus and species, and a description field. You can use it to add a plant, or use the common name field for something else (I have one for "Garden Ideas", - in that case you can skip the fields you don't use.)

That's all for now; next I'll give you some pointers for adding entries.

When you've finished these steps, feel free to report back here on what you did, and how it worked. If you had any problems or questions about this step, post 'em here, too :)

Spicewood, TX(Zone 8b)

One thing that helped me learn to use my journal was not putting too much stuff in it until I'd gotten the hang of it. I had to move stuff around, delete categories, re-do the way I listed things, etc., etc., and it sure was easier when there wasn't much in it.

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

The thing that helped me most was looking at other peoples journals to see how they had theirs set up. Then I decided how I wanted to do mine. Before I did that, I had no idea how I wanted my catagories set up. Taking an hour or so to look at other journals probably saved me tons of time later, because I didn't have to do it over when I changed my mind of how I wanted the catagories arranged.

Laurel, DE(Zone 7a)

I deleted all that I had messed with in the past months and decided to start fresh.

I named two journals "Gardens 2002" and Garden Purchases" - HOW do I switch between journals to add categories to each one?????? Every time I click on the main page to the right I get taken to the "Default Journal"?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Haighr, on the main page, you'll see a section titled: "Change your default Journal" It will show you links to any and all journals you have set up. You can click on whichever one you want to access.

In your case, I would recommend that you set up ONE journal. Call it Journal 2002 or whatever.

Within that journal, create TWO categories - one for Garden Purchases, and one category for your Journal, per se.

(I call my journal category "Almanac and Journal" because it alphabetically always comes out on top, and I like the sound of it, LOL.)

When you do it this way, you won't have to worry about switching between journals to log purchases vs. other stuff.

Laurel, DE(Zone 7a)

I am getting the hang of it a bit now, I added a todo item for this Sunday. When I click on TODO items from the main page it goes to the item I entered, and shows the #, item etc., but where do I find what it is I wanted TODO? Underneath it says to change from TODO but I don't see the actual entry?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Now that we've covered creating an item, we're ready to start adding entries.

When you add an entry to an item, click on "Add" next to the item you created. You'll now do three to four quick steps:

1. Specify the date - it will default to today's date, but you can make it a date in the past or a date in the future (especially good for to-do's);

2. Label it as a status update, an action you performed, or a to-do item; and

3. Add details in the description field beneath that pull-down list (it says "Enter your update") to describe the to-do, or a status update, etc.

4. (Optional) - add a photo. In the same way you add a photo to a forum or the Plants Database, you can add a photo to each entry you make. This is especially nice for tracking a project's progress, a plant's growth, recording the changing seasons in your garden, or logging an idea you saw in someone else's garden.

(Hint: if you add a photo, be sure you add a caption at the time you add it. You can always go back in and edit the caption, but if you don't create one to begin with, you won't be able to add it to the photo later on :)

Here's another small task for everyone who's working on their journals: Go to your to-do list on your main page. Assuming you've created an item (i.e., your journal), you'll have a to-do, even if you didn't mean to create one. Click on it. It will say "sow this today", regarding the item/journal you've created. You can edit it or delete it -and if the item you created is your journal, I'd suggest you delete this to-do.

Any questions? Please fire away - I'm glad more people are interested in getting their journals started, and we're here to help get you going :)

Laurel, DE(Zone 7a)

You GO VOLS - and talk and help volumes, thanks so much, I think I am on a roll now and will soon come out of the closet on this one as right now the journal is still private, but not for long thanks to you and some organizational skills!

Wetumpka, AL(Zone 8a)

Hi, I am a newbie. Just started my journal. I can't seem to be able to find how to add a picture to my journal. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Clair

Franklin, LA(Zone 9a)

I don't know if there's a way to do it when you create the item, but to add an image to an item that already exists:

On the main page, choose the category the item is in (you might need to change journals, if you have more than one)

You get a list of all items in that category. On the right, click Add next to the item you want to add an image to. (or you can click to check the box on the left, then click the Add an Entry button at the bottom)

Under the box where you type in the text is:
If you have an image associated with this update, add it here:
Click the browse button, find the image on your hard drive, click open, then submit.

You might want to type some text in the box ...

BTW, Welcome to DG!


Wetumpka, AL(Zone 8a)

Hi, Thanks so much for the help. I found your info most helpful. So simple to do after you know how to access it. Clair

Thumbnail by clairsflowers
Northern California, CA(Zone 9b)

Is there a way to keep the copyright off just the photos you submit to your journal?


Franklin, LA(Zone 9a)

Before you submit a photo to your journal, go to your preferences and choose Copyrights, near the bottom of the left menu.

Select "no method" and click submit.

When you are done in your journal, you might want to go turn copyright protection back on.


Northern California, CA(Zone 9b)

Great. will do. thanks!!!

Camberley, Surrey, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Thanks, I am just getting started, and have found this all most helpful. Quick question, I was unsure of a Common Name so left the field blank, however, the system would not allow me to save the entry. Any ideas?


Hi Candy,

The common name is just the name of the entry, so if you are talking about a plant, give it a name. If you are talking about something else (say, building a deck) then put something like "Deck building project".

That "common name" is what the system will always use to refer to the entry as, so give it something descriptive that will help you remember what it in the same.

Hope that helps! (Welcome to DG!)

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

When I started my journal I did not use the "Default Journal" I created one called "Outdoor Gardening". Then later I created a 2nd journal called "Garden Planning". Now I've got this "Default Journal" that's empty and cannot seem to delete the "Default Journal". Is there a way to do that? I think at one point I even tried moving the entire "Outdoor Gardening" journal to "Default", but then could not rename it to be "Outdoor Gardening" so I ended up moving it back to "outdoor Gardening". (Does that make sense??) Any way to delete the default journal?? Brenda

The "Default journal" must still be there, although you don't have to use it. Just ignore it. (If you can!) :)


Lansing, MI(Zone 6a)

I did not look at others' journals before I started on mine. Got it all messed up. Is there anyway to clear it all out and start over or go back in to delete or rename?


If you'd like, I can clear out your journal for you (I've done it for others in the past). Let me know!


Lansing, MI(Zone 6a)

I'd REALLY appreciate it Dave, thanks. This is a wonderful site; I'm so glad I found it.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

Thank you for this post-I can't believe I couldn't figure it out on my own!

Ewing, KY(Zone 6a)

I have a question. What is the best way to save your journal? I would like to save it on CD but guess I am not computer smart enough to figure out how to do it. Do I have to go into each entry and save it that way or is there a way I can save it all at one time?


Unfortunately yes, that is the only way to save it - one entry at a time. I did consider a couple years ago making an easy backup system for the users, but I never did it as it was a fairly complicated procedure. Did you want it backed up in machine-format (like a big binary file) or page-by-page in a zipfile?

Ewing, KY(Zone 6a)

Either way would work. But I really wanted it in a machine-format. It's no big deal. I know you back up the files everyday. But it would be nice to be able to check on something if DG or my server was down.

South Lake Tahoe, CA(Zone 5a)

I'm in need of some help. I can't get to the main page of my journal. I click on the main page link, but nothing happens - I'm always on page 3 categories. Can you fix that at your end please Dave? Many thanks....

Lilburn, GA(Zone 8a)

Terry, I finally found the "need some help" you suggested I click on in your email to my journal primer question. That didn't show up until I went into my "Default Journal" screen and that was after entries I realize now are wrong. I'm going back in and delete and start all over again. Also, I printed out this whole thread :)and am going to see if I can view some other journals to get some ideas. I'll get the hang of it eventually. Thanks.

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA(Zone 9a)

Although I have a few! things to do, I don't seem to have the gist of how to put something on a todo list. How do you tag something so it shows up on you todo list?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

CAPoppy, when you add an entry to a specific item, you can choose to label it as one of the following:

Status Update
Action I performed

Choose to-do and make sure specify the date for it to occur.

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Terry. Got it! Next question: I understand the RID but haven't figured out how to use the check box to the left of the individual RID numbers.

Princeton, IL(Zone 5a)

poppy, that check box is for mass actions. If you need to change 12 items from your wish list status (for example) to on order status. Then click the box on all 12 and then go to the bottom and choose change status. Easy to use!

LimeyLisa Ky


I spent an hour trying to put in fertilizer receipes I wanted to store for future use -- I never could enter paragraphs under my categories!

Ashville, AL(Zone 7b)

I feel really stupid but what does RID stand for?? I know I probably should know this but I am brain deadl. Oh yeah I'm doing the journal I think it will be good therapy. Just bear with me.

The RID is simply the "Resource ID". This is an internal number used for tracking. Each item in the journal (yours and everyone else's) has a unique identifier - an RID. No two entries have the same RID.

You can then use the RID to easily reference an individual item. Here's why I put the RID in a visible area:

This spring I'm going to be starting seeds. So, say I start seeds for my federle tomato.

I go to the journal and create an entry for the federle tomato. Then I take note of the RID that the journal assigned my federle tomato.

When I sow the seeds, I write down (on the plant market) "Federle/XXXX" where XXXX is the RID number for this batch.

Then, as I take notes on what this batch of federle tomato seeds are doing, I will be able to easily locate the item in the journal through the RID.

I'm going to add in a little box in the right hand menu that will let you enter the RID and jump straight to the item.

Gardiner, ME(Zone 5a)

Hi Terry or anybody else,
I have startet a Journal a few hours ago,walked away ,came back to add dozends more Daylilies .....BUT I am not getting anywhere..I am totally confused,printed Your directions .

I do end up in my Journal ,I clicked on add below and also on the far right and nothing is opening at all for me to add.
Which mainpage are you talking about ? Dave's mainpage or my Journal main page ? I messed up already.

Really would like to get organized .......HELP PLEASE :-)

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

Hi Brigitte - I assume you've read through this thread and that's still not helped. You might try going to the Journal Tab and then clicking on the FAQ. It may be a little more helpful (or not!). Here's a link to it:

Portland, OR

I am so excited that I found Dave's Garden, and my journal organization is going smoothly. The only thing I need to know is- does anyone know of a way I can move an item to another journal?

Gardiner, ME(Zone 5a)

you got mail,

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

dirttiger - go to the item you want to move and view it. At the bottom you will see options to edit the item, add an entry to the item, etc. One of the options is Move to Another Journal. Hope that helps.

Portland, OR

Thanks langbr! Do you know how to copy an item to another journal. For example in my journal "garden 2003" I want to copy (not just move) an item to my "garden 2004" journal. Does that make sense? I was also wondering why in my journal I have a spot for "initial entry" but I can't seem to figure out how people are entering a seperate "initial notes" spot. I would love to enter intial notes for care & propagation but don't want to enter all that info in the "Initial entry" spot. Why can't I find the "Initial Notes" spot? Help!

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