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How do you document your gardening? Farm journal, garden diary, smartphone app...

 
Posts: 9
Location: North Carolina
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I am currently using a program for my computer called Keepnote and I have a similar program on my phone. I use to use a plain old notebook book but I find that I'm putting more into the electronic notebook due to the smart phone. I can photograph things and speak my note to the smart phone then later transfer it to the Keepnote on my laptop. If I have an issue with a plant I take a picture and note then I can go on line and look for a solution and put it all in Keepnote. That alone would be impossible to do with a regular notebook unless you just like a Polaroid and glue. Keepnote is FOSS (free open source software) which I prefer over MS or any subscription software. I use Libreoffice calc to make spreadsheets with and those can be inserted or linked in the notebook.
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Posts: 1593
Location: Fennville MI
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Chris Badgett wrote:You need a WordPress powered website that you can easily send content to from your phone.

For example there's an app called http://pressgr.am/ for that to send and publish images quickly.

To make the website super useful, you'll want to organize, categorize, and tag your content. Otherwise, you'll end up with just a Tumblr style site which is cool but not as organized and curated as it could be.



Pressgram is shutdwn, just checked for it tonight  No longer available.
 
pollinator
Posts: 453
Location: Western Kenya
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I am old fashioned... I keep a pen and paper journal.  I find that digital record keeping is very time consuming and distracting for me.  On top of  that, I don't take my phone to the garden... I'm too clumsy and careless, and my hands are too dirty.  There goes my phone, in the irrigation pond... or oops, dropped it on a rock.
 
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Hi all, if anyone is interested, we have built a web app that I think may be useful for at least the journal/record keeping aspects that people have discussed here. It's not strictly permaculture focused but it uses satellite imagery and allows you to use your own map image if you have access to a drone.

This app can be used on your phone or tablet whilst in the garden to record locations, dates, activities, observations, photos and weather information like rainfall and frost dates.

There is lots in the pipeline (planting calendars, companion planting, integration with the Netatmo weather station and the Edyn soil sensor and much more) but it is very usable as is and over the last several years there has barely been a day when I haven't used it myself in my own garden.

If anyone is interested, feel free to check it out at www.planmy.garden, you can start a 14 day trial for free. We would love to hear what you think.
 
gardener & author
Posts: 2080
Location: Manitoba, Canada
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Simone Gar wrote:
I am really looking for an iPhone app that does the following:

Quick entry of notes (one click to start new note)
With search
by day & month (not year!) so I can compare say May 16th of several years.
by month only (not year or day) so I can see what I did last May. Did it rain a lot etc?
hashtags as tags. So if you write "There was a lot of #rain today" I would like to be able to click on it and see all notes that have "rain" in the text.
function to add pics (nice to have)
web platform for entry or email service so you can send in notes (nice to have)
export function to excel or text file. (needs to be all files, by tag or single file)


Does anybody know if something like this is out there?

Can somebody make one?



I can't understand why no one has done this yet. From all of the research I have done through Paul's podcasts, these forums, and a bunch of other stuff, it seems to me that there is nothing more important in managing our permaculture systems than good observation. Some individuals are amazing at keeping it all straight in their head. Good for them, I can't. I need a tool on my phone so I can take notes quickly in the field as I see things. I will likely not remember to go write it all down in a paper journal at the end of a long day.

So, since the tool I really want does not appear to exist, and given my background in Computer Engineering, I'm thinking I might make a go at this. Unfortunately, like others, I still have a need for this thing called money. I don't want to hose people but I also would like this project to pay for itself somewhat. The question I have for others is this: How much would you be willing to pay for a decent tool? How about a good tool? How about a great tool (no promises here )?
 
pollinator
Posts: 526
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I don't own a cell phone.  I keep a leather-covered pocket journal that I usually carry with me everywhere.  It's great for jotting down notes on the garden, livestock, wildlife observations, to-do lists, and no end of random thoughts.

The actual notebook part is consumable, of course, so when one gets filled a new one replaces it.  What's really fun is when pertinent information about something specific transcends multiple notebooks, and I have go "Now where did I write ____?" and then go track down and thumb through a few of them to find when I seeded that particular variety of beans, for example.

What's also fun is going back and trying to figure out what these random sprawling calculations mean.  Apparently I can get filthy rich if I...what?
 
pollinator
Posts: 790
Location: Central Virginia USA
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Generally I like opinions/ advice to be based on personal experience, but I have been terrible at keeping any semblance of organization in my life, and the computer (smart phone) has become my crutch of choice, allowing me to search to find files instantly that would take days/ years if i were looking through paper records--if I found it at all. needless to say I plan to investigate some of the apps mentioned in this thread to help me  organize a bit better.

Currently I try and take pictures which automatically date themselves, then often I write on a website blog associating the pics with commentary

I would like to mention the idea Bill put forward about the farm journal being sold with the farm like old masters (paintings) are sold with the pub.

The multi generational importance of these records  makes me wonder just how accessible they would be, what with changing technologies, new apps that refuse to talk with old ones, and of course the numerous  threats to those marching electrons just waiting for an excuse to break their assigned ranks and flee into chaos.

This could also be true of paper which likes to burn and smudge and disintegrate, so I did lay in a supply of a modern equivalent of rag paper which theoretically lasts longer than wood pulp paper and a fire safe. Now all I have to do is start making some hard copies

One of the things about Permaculture that inspires me the most is that we are in the middle/beginning of some really great changes that could possibly save our human existence on this planet. We may be the generation that future generations look to for inspiration and wisdom. It would be a shame if an EMP or obsolete technology destroyed our records.

Like I said, my personal record keeping is shoddy at best, and hard copies next to nonexistent (although I do try and keep backups), but if I ever do settle down and try and create something for posterity I think I will be aiming at a hard copy with the bare basics to hand over to the next designer when the time comes. (And if the technology still exists, an sd card with  a s***load of pictures)
 
pollinator
Posts: 298
Location: Ozarks
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Notekeeping app or note-taking app.

I use a program on my laptop called cherrytree but it's one guy developing it and it's only for ubuntu desktop os.

Notekeeping/notekeeper apps and document management apps would be the two searches I'd try. These notekeeping apps are considered "productivity" apps in techie terminology. Evernote has a free version and then I think the rest is subscription based, especially syncing between devices. Google has one called keep I think but I don't do google much.

There's a fairly new one called notebook by zoho corp which is free and does most of what evernote does.

I'm trying to get us on a food budget and start buying in bulk and what's on sale and want to really start keeping track of prices somewhere other than in my head so I needed one that I could add multiple stores to, break things down to price per unit etc. Found one and checked out notekeeping apps as well because I want to start using a smart phone more so I'll be getting notebook too. I've got a laptop and ipad mini but neither will fit in a pocket. My wife's aunt just offered us her old iphone so we'll be getting that. No cell service out here so spending several hundred on a good smart phone just wasn't justifiable.  We've got a small prepaid for travel but the screen's not big enough to do much.
Here's notebook https://www.zoho.com/notebook/
Here's a quick demo vid by zoho https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyHPiBroUpI

Someday maybe they'll make modular mini apps where you just choose all the features you need and the modules all work together. There's so many but none seem to do it all and the software suites are bloated and/or expensive.
 
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On searching, as many others have, for a gardening diary of sorts I first of all came across this forum, then on further searching found this app:

https://www.gardenize.com/

I have only just downloaded it and have not fully tested it out yet, but it seems to tick many boxes. The app lets you record photos and details on individual plants or types of plants, planting areas and special events. Each can be cross referenced and the only cost appears to be if you want to export from the app in anyway.

 
Posts: 35
Location: Piedmont, North Carolina - 7b/8a
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I have used a few note taking apps take keep track of my gardening exploits over the years and I guess I'll put in a vote for Evernote because it is pretty flexible in how you can structure it with different notebooks and tags, as well as the ability to take voice notes and pictures straight to the app.  You can also set reminders in it for future planting dates, etc.

This post got me looking back through my journals which is something I never do, so I had to ask myself why I was even making an effort to take these meticulous notes?  I did enjoy seeing some gardens from years past and I realized that pictures with dates were the most meaningful items in the journal for me.  Cliche or not, a picture is worth a thousand words!  Someone else mentioned they just did a photo journal and I think I will try that for the future.  I am always walking in the yard and garden, so snapping pictures here and there is no big deal.  Then it is just a matter of uploading them on a regular basis into organized folders with a note appended with quick details (variety, source, etc.), if necessary. Easier said than done, but worth trying, I think!
 
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I'm just starting out with a small raised bed. I'm using graph paper for my plans and notes but I'm thinking of starting a board in my Trello app because it allows tags, keywords, photos and links. Also the note area has ample room and checklists if you like.
 
pollinator
Posts: 101
Location: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (7b)
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If you've found your way here and are looking to write simple updates and upload pictures, check out Permapeople's garden journal! Write a post, upload images, tag plants, and even follow-up with threaded posts so you can see each project in its own view. It's all integrated with our plant database so you can easily tag a list of plants for easy reference.

We've built it so you can add a new entry in as little as 30 seconds. Just sign up for Permapeople (it's free) and start posting journal updates.

Check out my own (real) journal for a sample!

My founder and I are both Permies here so please feel free to reply with feedback or questions.
 
pollinator
Posts: 364
Location: WV
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I generally use a notes app on my tablet or phone and try to transfer everything to a notebook every few weeks.   I occasionally take the notebook into the garden to note the current layout of my beds but forgot to bring it in one evening and of course that was the evening it rained.  It dried out, but that's the main reason I use an electronic device for notes.  

 
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I too searched for the right gardening app, and have not yet found it.  So, in the interim, I'm using a PowerPoint slide deck as my method of record keeping.  I have a title page for the year & project I'm doing, a page for my goals, an imbedded spreadsheet illustrating the layout of the garden, a few pages of bulleted journal entries, and a page for future plans.  So far, it's working out surprisingly well, it's just not mobile.
 
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I use the calendar app that came with my laptop. It lets me plan when, what and how much as well as attach pictures. I love the part about using GPS and all of those high tech features, but am unable to do that with my computer.
It's true that there aren't any really full featured apps that do what we are asking of them.
I have a friend who 'writes' apps. Is that what you call it? I've went him some of the requirements that were posted first in line of this thread. We'll see what or if he can come up with anything.
 
pollinator
Posts: 410
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I kept a garden and farm journal in bound notebooks for years and go back to about 1985 and see what was planted, critters hatched, born, when they were wormed, hooves trimmed, or treated for some issue and with what. Sketches of planting layouts etc.

I started a new approach when we got our new place. I set up a large looseleaf binder with lined paper, one page per day of the year. Then as things need to be recorded I write the year and the record of whatever it is, like my old journals except now it is easier to compare year to year. It is looseleaf so when the page for say June 10 is full just insert a second page for that date.

I find these days I am either busier or more disorganized and find it easier to jot a note on my large paper calendar and later transcribe into the binder.  

Daughter does a daily walk around the farm and has taken to carrying a notebook and making journal entries.

We both have lots of photos. And now that I have a new phone with tons of capacity we are going to start a regular routine of video walkthroughs together. This may be weekly during summer or maybe fortnightly depending on how much is going on.
 
Posts: 3
Location: Rustenburg, South Africa
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The framed PDC certificate on my wall says otherwise, but I am still pretty much a novice when it comes to all things Permaculture. On the other hand, that's the goal of these forums, isn't it? To never stop learning.

I don't have a journal. Of any sort. Yet. However, I am seriously considering purchasing a Dot-grid notebook that can be solely used to record the goings-on in my balcony garden as soon as the new growing season kicks off in August (here in the Southern Hemisphere). The dots make it versatile, for both sketching and writing.

And suddenly I can see how the notebook can also help me with the "observation" part of Permaculture. Maybe I shall buy that notebook sooner!

 
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I keep a notebook, pen and paper work best for me. I make notes, what grew well what didn't. Seeds or bought plants, if using seeds where they were from. I was gifted about 500 different seed PJs back in 2017. I've gone through alot of the old seeds to see if they are still any good. Surprised me that many were viable.
I keep everything in there. From layouts of garden space to soil test results and recipes for liquid natural fertilizers.
I've folded up pages to make a "Pocket" stapled or glued the Pocket and put empty packages of my successful stuff. My notebook is like a good recipe book there's dirt and coffee stains on the pages. My vote is paper and Google or Facebook photos. Make an album by date for easy reference. 7.17.22 😉
 
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Location: Omaha, United States
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My great grandmother kept a journal of gardening, plants, and the weather.  On the creepy side it also listed all of the plants that she grew that could be converted to poison.  Not sure where that notebook ended up...

This year I'm doing a video tour of my yard every two weeks and I throw it up on facebook.  So far my mom and my boss have mentioned that they watch it.  It's kind of funny because I keep forgetting what I planted where, and I don't do any edits or cuts, so I'm pretty sure there's one or two sections of trellis that I've described as a different plant on each video.  No one has mentioned that yet.  As harvest begins I'll either take pictures or videos of what got harvested each time we go out.  So far it's just radishes and lettuce.  I do go on my facebook posts and write myself notes so that I'll remember better next year.
 
gardener
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A high low registering thermometer is a helpful tool to stimulate the record keeping.  The temperature in the greenhouse needs to be regulated by opening and closing doors.  I have a collection of  bound account journals with space for date, item  and income/expense columns. I make notes on weather and planting in the item space and the low high temps in the income/expense when I close the doors and reset the markers for high/low.   This gives me a comparison for planning starting dates next year.
 
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Location: Norway
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I've been thinking a lot about this journalling thing lately. I haven't found any good solutions, but I think I will try out Google Keep. It has categorizing functions, easy to take pictures and make notes while working on the farm. It is free and compatible with my calendar. Has anyone tried Keep for their farms and gardens? Pros and cons?
 
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Hege Fossum
Post Yesterday 11:23:09 PM     Subject: How do you document your gardening? Farm journal, garden diary, smartphone app...
I've been thinking a lot about this journalling thing lately. I haven't found any good solutions, but I think I will try out Google Keep. It has categorizing functions, easy to take pictures and make notes while working on the farm. It is free and compatible with my calendar. Has anyone tried Keep for their farms and gardens? Pros and cons?



Don't base anything that you might do long-term on Google. See:
https://killedbygoogle.com/
 
Hege Fossum
Posts: 6
Location: Norway
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Daniel Richardson wrote:

Hege Fossum
Post Yesterday 11:23:09 PM     Subject: How do you document your gardening? Farm journal, garden diary, smartphone app...
I've been thinking a lot about this journalling thing lately. I haven't found any good solutions, but I think I will try out Google Keep. It has categorizing functions, easy to take pictures and make notes while working on the farm. It is free and compatible with my calendar. Has anyone tried Keep for their farms and gardens? Pros and cons?



Don't base anything that you might do long-term on Google. See:
https://killedbygoogle.com/



Oh, no... I've already done that Thanks for warning me
 
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