As with the paper-based system, there are a number of drawbacks to the software model. First, the software is tied to the developer. If the developer stops supporting the software, goes out of business, or stops upgrading the software, there is no recourse. All the years of data you have put into the system may be jeopardized, especially if there is no way to export the data. In addition, the software is molded to the developer’s way of thinking and gardening. It is unlikely that any software package will have all the components that you want and in most cases you will be unable to change this. Software garden journals also require hardware, so they are more limited and less mobile than paper-based journals. Data entry can be time consuming depending on the interface and the user’s typing skills. Finally, archiving and data corruption are significantly larger and more difficult issues with a software solution.
Some software garden journals currently available, include:
Garden Tracker: Offers worksheets, database, reports, to-do lists, ability to organize photos and videos, and ability to create markers/labels/seed packets. This system may be useful for someone with only basic needs. The program offers no way to pull out or compare weather data, for example, and comes with only limited plant information. There is also no built in backup function. Developer has been supporting product for 8 years and is responsive to email inquiries.
Premier Gardens by Pleasant Lake Software: Billed as software for home garden, professional landscape, and master gardener, Premier Gardens has fair number of components: plant catalog provided by a bulb company, ways to track multiple gardens, plant inventory, planning list, grids, weather, and various reports. The developer offers a 30 days free trial and is responsive to email inquiries.