The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 5, 2014

Garden journals: Reviews, tips and recommendations

Paper

Paper-based garden journals were the way people originally tracked information about their garden or landscape, and it is still very popular. There are a number of different methods from Rolodex cards to purchased garden journals.

Three-ring binders afford gardeners the ability to remove or add notes, sections, sketches, or other paper-based materials at will; an advantage over hardbound diary systems, journal-style calendar books, or compositions books. Components, such as a manila folder for receipts, pocket folders for seed packs, or index cards for quick notes, can be added to the system. Archiving is easy and stable, compared to the other two options, and some people enjoy the thought that their garden journal could be a legacy to other family members sometime in the future.

The disadvantages of paper-based systems include time consuming searching, running out of space within the system, loss of notes or other papers, and lack of flexibility in terms of moving individual pieces of data (e.g. one plant entry) around within the system. Some gardeners report being overwhelmed by all the different pieces of paper that needs to be managed. Inserting photos into some forms of paper-based systems can also be challenging. Finally, sharing the information in a paper-based system, especially remotely, is neither quick nor easy.

Computer

Like paper-based systems, there are a number of different options from spreadsheets to dedicated gardening management software. Garden journals can be created using Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. Purchased software programs have the benefit of rapid data aggregation, increased flexibility, better reporting functions, and superior search abilities. It also allows the creator to share information rapidly and remotely.

For simplicity sake, the focus of this section will be dedicated to software packages for garden management. User-created electronic garden journals (using spreadsheets, Word documents, etc.) would be similar to paper journals.

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