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How do you keep track of your plants?

 
Posts: 239
Location: 9A Marion County Fl
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I am getting to the point of possibly forgetting whats been planted. I have at least a couple of fig trees that I have been mixed up on as far as variety. I need to get this under control before its outta control.

I was thinking of some sort of placard in front of the various plants announcing its variety. Im not made of money and Im not sure how fancy I can get.

Id like to hear how you all remember whats been planted where? How do you keep track?

 
steward
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I intentionally don't keep track of variety names. Naming something doesn't make it grow better, or taste better.

When I discovered that I was spending half my time in the garden on recordkeeping, I immediately stopped keeping records. What that means in practice, is that I can grow the same amount of food for half the labor, which allows me to play more.

 
Jason Walter
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I intentionally don't keep track of variety names. Naming something doesn't make it grow better, or taste better.



Figs as an example can vary greatly in taste from varieties, Id like to propagate what I enjoy and not spend time on varieties I do not care for.
 
gardener
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I'm also interested in propagation of specific varieties, so knowing which is which is helpful for me, too.

My solution is I make maps of the property/garden areas.  Just hand-drawn.  I find this a very fun thing to do on a winter evening.  :-) It helps me learn and tweak our permaculture design and notice patterns and successful/unsuccessful plant groupings.  Also, this helps me to keep rotations going of annual plant families for disease prevention.

I also keep a file of plants I purchase, as a backup reminder in case I can't find my maps.

Though some people use actual tree tags successfully, I can be too forgetful about them.  It's to easy for me to forget about it and the tree to outgrow the tag and let it get embedded in it - yeah, not good.  Maps and lists work better for me.

In her book on seed saving, Suzanne Ashworth suggests keeping a card file where you record the variety of plant you are growing, the year, maybe stick a photo, and also write in where you obtained the seed from.  You could add a location of where it's planted. And you could obviously do this digitally rather than analog by making a list or table or dataset on your computer.

What do other people do?
 
gardener
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I've heard a lot of great things about GrowVeg.  Their software is supposedly great.  I can't use it because I'm on linux and I refuse to install Flash.  His youtube channel is very informative.

But really what I do is I make careful notes in pencil right on the garden bed/container/piece of lumber laying next to the plant.  Then I wait for the magic to happen.  The magic usually entails some combination of erosion carrying the seeds downstream, volunteer tomatoes and cilantro coming up from the compost, stray dandelions....   On more than one occasion (right now, as a matter of fact) I have mulched and pruned around a particularly vigorous, healthy weed-masquerading-as-a-plant.  I have a brilliant sumac in my container that is at least 3 feet tall now.
 
gardener
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I keep a word doc that is getting terribly lengthy now. The first half is like a diary, where every few days I write a couple of sentences about what's going on in my garden or house, or the seasons. The second half is alphabetical with a paragraph for each species I grow, or specific other topics like "worms" or "pests" etc. I put "/" after each heading so I can use the find function to jump right to the item I want to make a note of. I usually update it in the evening or in the heat of midday when I don't want to be working outside.

For example, today a friend who has an attached-greenhouse solar-heating home like mine asked me "When do you think is good to put the greenhouse on?" and it took me under 5 seconds to search for "Greenhouse/" in my document and paste my records from the past 3 years to her.

A typical entry would be like this:
Apples/
Nov 2019 put seeds of Paradise, Antanovka, and kharkechu in tetrapaks of garden soil to stratify. 8 Feb 2020: Lots of seedlings of Paradise. 1 Mar: some Paradise roasted, so there are now 2 Paradise, 1 Antanovka, 1 kharkechu. Apr: Planted the kharkechu near the pump, just E of the wild rose; Antanovka NW of kitchen window, N of albizia, S of robinia; 1 Paradise 5 feet S of the peach on the greywater canal; left 1 Paradise in a tetrapak. 6 Sept 2020: Kharkechu near pump, antanovka near kitchen window and Paradise in tetrapak look good; Paradise near peaches is looking pathetic.
 
gardener
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I am mostly with Joseph and keep very few records.

However, when I want a permanent tree tag, I make one as follows.  I cut a rectangle of aluminum from a soda pop can, snip the corners and fold the edges so that nothing is sharp.  I inscribe a few words on the rectangle with any sharp object, imprinting it permanently in the soft metal.  I punch a hole in one end of the aluminum tag.  I disassemble and unwind the wire core from a piece of heavy scrap electrical cable (copper or aluminum) and cut it into 18" pieces, and then use one of the pieces of wire to affix the tag to a tree.  Use a very large loop on the end that goes around the trunk of the tree so that it won't strangle the tree as it grows.  Affix it above a branch so that it doesn't fall to the ground.  You'll have to revisit if the tree gets ridiculously huge, but you just made a 5-10 year tag from scrap and junk.  
 
Jason Walter
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Rob Lineberger wrote:I've heard a lot of great things about GrowVeg.  Their software is supposedly great.  I can't use it because I'm on linux and I refuse to install Flash.  His youtube channel is very informative.

But really what I do is I make careful notes in pencil right on the garden bed/container/piece of lumber laying next to the plant.  Then I wait for the magic to happen.  The magic usually entails some combination of erosion carrying the seeds downstream, volunteer tomatoes and cilantro coming up from the compost, stray dandelions....   On more than one occasion (right now, as a matter of fact) I have mulched and pruned around a particularly vigorous, healthy weed-masquerading-as-a-plant.  I have a brilliant sumac in my container that is at least 3 feet tall now.



This is very funny. Thanks
 
pollinator
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Mentally I overlay a grid over my garden. (think square foot gardening)
Then I make a list stating at A1=lettuce, A2= spinach.

This same grid idea works for an orchard,
A1= apple guild
A2= persimmon guild
I also have almost all my fruit trees tagged, and every plant I buy is entered into a spreadsheet. I also have a map layout with each cultivar.

However growing up, none of our plants were named cultivars, they were just locally adapted plants. And I would only take cuttings/seedlings from plants that I enjoyed, and if the seedling were horrible, they would get killed.
 
pollinator
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I hate keeping track of varieties. Only things that matter are if it grows well and we like it. If so I keep the seeds and or clone it. I do describe things for myself, for example this was a bad year for beans, lots of disease and bugs but some stood out as way more tolerant of those things so I saved their seed in a new landrace group I call "Clean Pod" pole beans because the dried pods have few to no blemishes while all the other beans look awful. I also occasionally name something again, mostly just for myself. An example there is my Utah Heart tomatoes. Got them in a mixed batch from Joseph Lofthouse and they survived initial growing in the back garden, with no care at all after planting. They are the finest sauce and juice tomato I've ever grown so thought they needed a name to honor where I got them.

There are some exceptions to the no tracking rule such as my grape vines. I clone and sell them but some I have are under PVP and I don't have licence to propagate those. I used something very similar to what Dan described except I cut pieces of metal roofing and used a Dremel tool to inscribe the name and the year the PVP runs out.  Others are not PVP or it is expired but I still tagged them too so I can pass the name and associated descriptions to folks who buy my vines.  The tags are just attached to the trellis near the vine trunk with electric fence wire and I figure will last long enough.
 
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I moved from Florida to the Pacific Northwest less than a year and have had to relearn everything about gardening.  We are on 2 1/2 acres so there's a whole lot to learn, and I am not as young as I used to be so documenting what I've learned (instead of trying to remember all these new facts) is a must.  I find garden tags can easily get blown or washed away.  Instead I take the tags from the plants and put them into a (fun) "dot journal" and add growing notes as needed.  In the dot journal, you can also put garden layouts and all sorts of other plans and notes.  
 
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I have a diagram, and draw/note date, number of seeds or seedlings sewn. And their date of recorded death by what means: rabbit, slug, puppy, sheep, bush fire, earth quake, flood etc etc. Its been a tricky year lol
I keep seeds in envelopes, and file them alphabetically, in a square tupper wear container. With their name and type (as im experimenting with what does/does not do well here).

I have portable hard drive backed up files, And have folders on subjects, having saved few articles on key issues for us here.

I have a note book for recipes for septic friendly cleaning products, animal husbandry products, first aid products.

I have a sort of journal. But only record significant events in my family, and what im doing garden wise. A wish list of dream projects that are unlikely to see fruition.

Reading this, i recognise my OCD which im working on lol




 
Posts: 108
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I created an airtable[1] which I can fill quickly with the phone while doing things in the garden. When I seed things out, I put the bags of seeds on the ground and take a picture.

Happy to share my "log" through a private message, just ping me!

ben

[1] https://airtable.com/
 
Jason Walter
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Ben Knofe wrote:I created an airtable[1] which I can fill quickly with the phone while doing things in the garden. When I seed things out, I put the bags of seeds on the ground and take a picture.

Happy to share my "log" through a private message, just ping me!

ben

[1] https://airtable.com/



Thanks, technology eludes me for the most part and so Ill be labeling or making signs. Not even sure what ping means
 
gardener
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I don't. Every year I tell myself I will remember what I plant, and where, and every year is like opening presents on Christmas, a surprise around every corner. I keep telling myself I'll write it all down next time, then spring rolls around and nahhhh...I'll be able to remember😂
 
Ben Knofe
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Jason Walter wrote:
Thanks, technology eludes me for the most part and so Ill be labeling or making signs. Not even sure what ping means


You are right, I meant to just write me a short message! A notebook to keep track of timings (if you care about that) in addition to labels and signs will do the same!
 
gardener
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Ben Knofe wrote:I created an airtable[1]


I came here to say this, Ben beat me to it.

I'm offering another hand of help if you choose this route.


I'd be interested to see pictures of what you decide to do.
 
gardener
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I have a paper journal where I sketch out the beds and what I have planted in the seed trays. The journal itself tends to get lost for months at a time. I have these spurts where I do note what`s happening in the garden but I spend so much effort on that sort of small documentation for my work that I just can`t stand to have it spill over into my leisure (which is why even though Airtable is brilliant I just can't bring myself to use it in the garden).
 
Ben Knofe
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Thanks Ash for taking a look at my log and telling me it's good to be shared.

Here it is: https://airtable.com/shrGJyjfQQ2UjkWMY
 
master gardener
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For trees and shrubs, I follow a version of what Dan Boone suggested - almuminium labels wired loosely to a branch with the name "embossed" in with an object. I make them large so the print is easy to read.
 
pollinator
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I've posted this before but I bought wooden stakes, painted them a different color every year and then labeled them from there. So the blue ones are the first year trees. They have the fruit (apple, pear, plum, peach), the variety (Gala, etc.) and the root stock size (S= Standard SD= Semi Dward and D= dwarf).

The year two markers are purple, etc.

So I have a plum tree that has managed to survive somehow for the last 6 years and it has a blue marker that says |Starking Delicious|Plum|SD| Still completely legible.
 
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When I planted a bunch of nursery sourced trees, I wanted to keep track of what, when, source... So I took metal shears to some soda cans, punched a hole in the resultant rectangles, used a stylus to emboss the information and tied the aluminum tags loosely to the trees. Cheap, fast, easy and close to permanent.
 
steward
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One warning about the aluminum soda can tags.  If the tag can wiggle on the wire when it's windy, it will eventually tear itself off.  So when I loop the copper wire through the hole, I crimp it so that it's pinching the aluminum.
 
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Sharing plants or seeds from my garden happens regularly and I think it’s important to tell my recipients what exactly they’re getting. At the same time, I really like knowing the names of what I grow.

To keep track, I simply write in a notebook the genus, species, and common name of plants I acquire, and the date each is acquired.  I also find some way to label the plant itself. Eventually I memorize the name and the loss of the label doesn’t matter.

One day, someone else will own my property and I want that person to know what they are getting. Ignorance can lead a person to uselessly buy a plant they already have on their property. I’ve done this myself.  Also, visitors to my garden often ask “what’s this it that”, not to be polite but because they really want to know.
 
pollinator
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Ben Knofe wrote:Thanks Ash for taking a look at my log and telling me it's good to be shared.

Here it is: https://airtable.com/shrGJyjfQQ2UjkWMY



Hey, I'm going to try airtable. Is there a template you started with, or did you create this from scratch?

I'm going to have to stick with the free version, so I want to be sure I start out right. I tried going to Universe and adding a workspace for gardening, and it's one of the Pro features, so I deleted it.

 
master gardener
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I have tried various labels and markers. They fade or vanish.  Maps appears to be the only reliable approach. I draw maps of my property, my garden, my high tunnel, my orchards, etc.  
 
gardener
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I keep a garden binder.  I guess it depends on who you are. I enjoy adding to and looking over my garden binder, especially when I can't be in the garden.  I think it's very helpful.  I planted 4 kinds of lettuce.  Only one was eatable and it grew and grew.  Now I can plant that one and try new ones avoiding the lettuce we didn't like.  I use graph paper and draw my garden, and other places I plant.  It isn't perfect, but it's good enough.  One thing I know about myself is I'm not going to remember.  I love variety, so the only way I'm going to keep adding new things is to know what is already there.  I like to ring my trees with wood chips (not touching the tree of course)  You could put a big rock in the wood chips and write with a permanent marker or paint on it.  It wont last for ever, but I wouldn't think it would need to be touched up more then once a year or so.  Good luck.
 
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I loosely keep track of some things.

When I identify new plants in my woods/property I enter them in a spreadsheet program. I write in the name, and have columns to identify uses (medicinal, edible, etc) and growth habit. It’s nice to be able to easily keep track, and when I’m looking to add plants to other areas of the property I shop there first.

I do like to label stuff. It’s not necessary, but I really like it so I’m going to label the perennials in my yards. This winter, when I can’t go outside, I’m planning to paint rocks for labeling plants. I am particularly wanting to label the different t varieties of some plants, like my blueberries, currants, honeyberries etc. that way I’ll know which I like and get more of those, and if I ever sell them I can name the variety. I haven’t had a lot of luck finding round rocks of the desired size yet, and I’d better get started soon!


 
pollinator
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I keep an Excel spreadsheet.

Really, it's virtually no work for me doing record keeping, I don't spend hardly any time in it.

I just write the varieties down, and a few notes ("good for canning", "good for juice", "turns yellow when ripe", etc), plus what quarter it was planted in (e.g. Spring 2015), how many years it's expected before bearing fruit (4-6 years), and when to harvest (Late July).

That all sounds like a buttload of work, but it's really not - I just copy it off the order page of the site I ordered it from, and only need to do it once per species. Like 3 minutes per new species. And only for perennials like bushes or trees.

Each tree I plant I assign a number (Apple #12). I need to somehow tag my trees with that number, but alas, my "permanent weather proof tags" keep being ripped off by wind and the perment xtreme weatherproof sharpie keeps wearing off in the sub.
 
pollinator
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A good friend advised me to make a map.  I haven't gotten around to it, so most everything is upstairs at the moment.  In a pinch, I can search old emails for order information.  Works sometimes.  A variety can make all the difference between sucess and failure, but I am hesitant to recommend a certain one to people, lest they plant nothing but the one I mentioned.  I want them to try ones I haven't!
 
Ben Knofe
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Ben Knofe wrote:Thanks Ash for taking a look at my log and telling me it's good to be shared.

Here it is: https://airtable.com/shrGJyjfQQ2UjkWMY



Hey, I'm going to try airtable. Is there a template you started with, or did you create this from scratch?

I'm going to have to stick with the free version, so I want to be sure I start out right. I tried going to Universe and adding a workspace for gardening, and it's one of the Pro features, so I deleted it.


I am using the free version too! No need to pay for anything. I started from scratch with the idea to find out: What is the crop I can grow the most with the least amount of time/space? But this year was not a good garden year for us, so I dropped the idea a bit and was happy about whatever we could harvest. Feel free to copy and edit my airtable! (Also let me know if you cannot copy easily, I can try to add you to it)
 
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For me record keeping has become one of the most important parts of gardening.  I keep an ongoing journal, which includes planting dates, best varieties and sources along with everything garden related.  Included in my journal  is planting locations.  When a written description of locations is not adequate I draw maps.  These maps are taped in the back of my journals and updated when new plant go in.  For me a journal is the cheapest yet most important tool a gardener can own.    
 
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I got some pieces of slate on which I intend to paint the names of my trees. The idea came from a friend who has a large forest garden and would find it impossible to keep track of varieties but even though I’ve only got a few trees, I still forget some of the names.
 
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Airtable.com.  It's awesome!
 
gardener
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I grow quite a few perennials from seed.  It is cheaper and saves postage for me.  I make a spreadsheet each year with a wish list, where I get them from and some notes as to how the germination goes.  I need to label the seed(ling)s and do this usually with a bit of aluminium cut from a tomato puree tube.  An old biro embosses this nicely.  The label then stays with the plant as it is transplanted (and more labels made), just pushed into the ground closeby.
For larger shrubs and small trees I use larger strips of metal embossed as before.  Wrapped around the trunk or a branch they will grow with the plant.
Sometimes the birds disturb the bright metal, but usually I can find them and know where they came from.
I never have enough puree tubes though....
 
Diane Kistner
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Nancy Reading wrote:An old biro embosses this nicely.  The label then stays with the plant as it is transplanted (and more labels made), just pushed into the ground closeby.



What is a biro? I'm looking at different metal stamping and embossing thingies on Amazon and just wondering what folks might recommend for easily making labels from strips cut from aluminum cans.

 
Jay Angler
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Nancy Reading wrote:An old biro embosses this nicely.  The label then stays with the plant as it is transplanted (and more labels made), just pushed into the ground closeby.



What is a biro? I'm looking at different metal stamping and embossing thingies on Amazon and just wondering what folks might recommend for easily making labels from strips cut from aluminum cans.

Ladislao Biro invented the ball-point pen, so many countries in the world (except notably the USA) refer to pens as "biros".
 
Diane Kistner
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Jay Angler wrote:

Diane Kistner wrote:

Nancy Reading wrote:An old biro embosses this nicely.  The label then stays with the plant as it is transplanted (and more labels made), just pushed into the ground closeby.



What is a biro? I'm looking at different metal stamping and embossing thingies on Amazon and just wondering what folks might recommend for easily making labels from strips cut from aluminum cans.

Ladislao Biro invented the ball-point pen, so many countries in the world (except notably the USA) refer to pens as "biros".



Oh! Okay thanks for that explanation Jay. I don't think a ballpoint pen would be strong enough to write on an aluminum can strip, though. I was looking at those alphabetical metal stamping kits, but then I started imagining how long it would take to make labels and thought better of it.
 
Jay Angler
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Oh! Okay thanks for that explanation Jay. I don't think a ballpoint pen would be strong enough to write on an aluminum can strip, though. I was looking at those alphabetical metal stamping kits, but then I started imagining how long it would take to make labels and thought better of it.

Some pop cans are pretty soft, and I use the aluminum pans from take-out Chinese food. I think that's why Nancy suggested an "old" biro - I suspect it would be useless as a writing implement after using it for this purpose.

I also make sure the metal is on a surface like cracker box cardboard as that helps with the "embossing" effect.
 
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Thanks Jay for clarifying my post (divided by a common language...!)  I usually pick a pen that is already dead. Yes, you need a reasonably smooth surface underneath or you get a hammered metal effect.  A soft pencil lasts remarkably well on clean aluminium, so may be OK on inside of soft drinks cans.  The other thing (which may be obvious) is that the metal edges are generally rather sharp and cuts unwary hands.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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