If you haven't read Part 1 of the series and you need to be convinced about why the journal is so great, here is a link: Part 1.

Jumping in roots first

Now that you have contemplated the expansive capabilities of this program, it's time to start one of your own. Don't be scared, if you can follow these instructions you will be able to figure it out.

We will start here at your journal: http://davesgarden.com/tools/journal/

Every DG member is set up with a journal called "Default Journal." In advance, let me tell you that you can never delete this journal in its entirety. So, if you completely wreck the organization of this journal, it will be a tedious process to delete every entry bit by bit. So to be safe, let's begin by setting up a practice journal just in case. This way if you hate what you create, you are a mouse click away from a clean slate.

Begin by clicking on "Manage Journals." Begin by making up a name for your practice journal: "Gardening 2008" or maybe "Jane's Garden," etc. You need to decide how to divide this starter journal.

Here are some ways to categorize your journal to think about:

  • If you have multiple gardens (2 houses, Front/back/side yards, Veggie/Perennial gardens etc.)

  • Different categories of plants (Annuals, Perennials, Trees, Shrubs, etc.)

  • Different types of plants (Salvias, Columbines, Brugmansias, etc.)

  • Different locations in your garden (Front yard East bed, Side curved bed, etc.)

  • Different seasons or years in your garden (Spring 2007, Fall 2007, etc.)


When you decide which kind of categories would be most helpful to you, click on "Manage Categories."


In the blank box under the heading "You may now add a new toplevel category," type the name of one of your categories. Remember this would be a category like ones I listed in parenthesis directly above. If you can think of more categories to add right now, go ahead and do so. Notice, every time you add a category they will appear in blue in the list at the top with a (0) next to them. They are blue because they are a clickable link and the (0) means you haven't filed anything under that specific category, yet.

When you think you are done adding categories for the moment, click on ‘Back to your Journal homepage' at the very bottom of the page. At the top of the resulting page, it will say "Welcome back to your *****(Default, if you did not create a new one) Journal." This greeting is how you will know which journal you are in from here on out. If you have not created a new journal, you will always be in your default journal. (Don't forget, you were adding categories earlier, not journals.) When you are ready to add entries under your categories you have 2 choices:

1. From the main page, scroll down and click on the category you want to add to. On that page, toward the top you will see a blue link "Add a new item under this category." Click on this and you will see several blank boxes labeled with what the system wants you to input such as Common name, Cultivar, Genus, Species, etc. Fill out these fields and click "Submit."

2. Go to Plant Files and search for the plant you want to add to any existing category. Once you find the exact cultivar or plant you are looking for, hit the "End" button on your keyboard or scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. Click on the link "Add this plant to your Journal." It will then ask you, "Into which journal do you want to put this?" If you only have one journal, click on ‘Default,' otherwise choose and click on the correct journal.

Then click on the link that says "Click here to select a category for it." It will then bring up the list of categories you typed in earlier and you can click on the correct one. You can then click on "Go to the entry" or "Go to the new category." If it is a new entry in your journal, clicking on "Go to the old category" will just take you to the new category.

If you have time, go ahead and practice both of these adding methods. I find that the latter of the 2 options is easier, because most of the time I, a.) am able to find the plant I am looking for and, b.)can't spell botanical Latin to save my life! The more you practice this step, the easier and more valuable the journal feature will be to you in the long run.

Getting the hang of it?

Once you have a few plants in a few categories in your Journal, maybe you are starting to get a sense of how this tool works. If not, I want you to remember that there is always the "Delete" option, and anything you mess up or confuse, is easily wiped clean and you can start over.

If you are struggling, I encourage you to look back at other members' journals more in depth and play around a little bit longer before you give up for good. If you are getting a hang of it, good for you. Are you seeing the possibilities?

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 3 in the series to learn how to use the more advanced features of the journal tool!