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Perennial garden record-keeping  RSS feed

 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Here at the ranch we declared 2016 the "year of data." Thus I'm formatting a new garden journal/homestead record book PDF for 2016. There are loads of examples on the internet for annual vegetable gardens. And I've worked out a good start on animal husbandry. But I haven't seen anything that inspires me for record-keeping of perennial gardens. What do I want to know? Bloom date, annual yields at minimum. Holistic spray logs. Observational notes.

I already have in my PDF design a harvest log, and an idea for a cool bloom table/chart. One thing I want to track is whether we have sufficient cross-pollination in our fruit crops so I want the bloom log for sure. It would be ideal, but I'm not sure I can keep up with a system that requires a cultivar by cultivar record-keeping system. We already have 75+ varieties of apples alone. That sounds like Newton's diary, no time for that.

But whatever I do, it's going to have to be somewhat separate from the annual records, because we want on-going data. Did pruning in week 10 in 2015 but not until week 12 in 2016, that kind of stuff. I'm thinking to use a weekly observation log in the 2016 homestead recordbook that gets transferred during the winter down time to a long-term permaculture record. How does your mind work? Would you prefer such a tool organized by zone or planting bed, where you might replicate data for the same plant (say chives) in two or three zones? or by plant, regardless of zone? Or some other way? If you had 200 perennial types, how many would you really track?

If it's a PITA, it won't get used, so the system has to be simple. Anyone seen any brilliant solutions? Digital or paper-based?







 
jeff hogan
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Ann Torrence wrote:Here at the ranch we declared 2016 the "year of data." Thus I'm formatting a new garden journal/homestead record book PDF for 2016. There are loads of examples on the internet for annual vegetable gardens. And I've worked out a good start on animal husbandry. But I haven't seen anything that inspires me for record-keeping of perennial gardens. What do I want to know? Bloom date, annual yields at minimum. Holistic spray logs. Observational notes.

I already have in my PDF design a harvest log, and an idea for a cool bloom table/chart. One thing I want to track is whether we have sufficient cross-pollination in our fruit crops so I want the bloom log for sure. It would be ideal, but I'm not sure I can keep up with a system that requires a cultivar by cultivar record-keeping system. We already have 75+ varieties of apples alone. That sounds like Newton's diary, no time for that.

But whatever I do, it's going to have to be somewhat separate from the annual records, because we want on-going data. Did pruning in week 10 in 2015 but not until week 12 in 2016, that kind of stuff. I'm thinking to use a weekly observation log in the 2016 homestead recordbook that gets transferred during the winter down time to a long-term permaculture record. How does your mind work? Would you prefer such a tool organized by zone or planting bed, where you might replicate data for the same plant (say chives) in two or three zones? or by plant, regardless of zone? Or some other way? If you had 200 perennial types, how many would you really track?

If it's a PITA, it won't get used, so the system has to be simple. Anyone seen any brilliant solutions? Digital or paper-based?

I wish this was a post for suggesting something; but, it isn't. We are just getting started and would love to see what you come up with.





 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I am interested in this too. My records are on paper.

I would go by tree/plant but I have fewer trees than you, I think.

This would be a good phone app if it was designed well. What if you could tap each tree with your phone and easily insert data? I don't think the gps is precise enough. Maybe if the map of the property was already entered, it would be easy to click on it tree by tree. I agree that simpler is better.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I have kept a LOT of records over the years. The only ones that I use consistently are digital photographs. I use image gallery software that allows me to tag photos. I also take a color-wheel into the garden with me that I can write on with dry-erase markers. So I can photograph a label and also tag the digital photos. If I put stakes by things in the garden, I use large bold letters so that they will show up well on the digital photos. The image gallery software imports images by date, so I can also compare how one season compares to another. My favorite camera had the option of printing the date right onto the photo.

Every week or two, I walk through the whole farm, and take photos of anything and everything. I never know later on what I'll be interested in so I might as well photograph it all.

For example: Here is today's photo. Pretty much sums up the whole month. I needed garlic. So I tried to dig some. The photo documents that the ground wasn't frozen as of January 2nd, 2016, even though temperatures have been below zero most nights this week. Happy New Year! The foot or so of powder on the ground has provided excellent insulation.



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Digging Garlic. Ground Not Frozen
 
Marianne Cicala
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Location: south central VA 7B
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I am right there with you in searching for a good way to document. Spreadsheets leave me cold & it's an unwelcomed task. I'm trying something that has more visual appeal, hoping I won't mind it so much. We did scale drawings of our different gardens ; next week I'm having them laminated so we can use a dry erase markers to enter info. I will simply take pictures of these worksheets as info is entered to keep as records. I think the coloring book approach will make the task more appealing for me.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I have kept a LOT of records over the years. The only ones that I use consistently are digital photographs. I use image gallery software that allows me to tag photos. I also take a color-wheel into the garden with me that I can write on with dry-erase markers. So I can photograph a label and also tag the digital photos. If I put stakes by things in the garden, I use large bold letters so that they will show up well on the digital photos. The image gallery software imports images by date, so I can also compare how one season compares to another. My favorite camera had the option of printing the date right onto the photo.

Every week or two, I walk through the whole farm, and take photos of anything and everything. I never know later on what I'll be interested in so I might as well photograph it all.

For example: Here is today's photo. Pretty much sums up the whole month. I needed garlic. So I tried to dig some. The photo documents that the ground wasn't frozen as of January 2nd, 2016, even though temperatures have been below zero most nights this week. Happy New Year! The foot or so of powder on the ground has provided excellent insulation.





This idea interests me. I can easily take photos with my phone, and I do, but not with any organization. How do you organize them later on? How easy is it to look back and retrieve something specific? What program do you use? Do the photos take up gobs and gobs of space? It seems like some info, like bloom times, would be well suited for photo gathering. Others, like yield not so much.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2581
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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The image gallery software that I use is called "Shotwell". It is an open-source linux program... Imagine that. Me using an operating system that didn't come from The Company. The default import method for photos is by "events" which end up basically being categorized by date... On disk the photos are imported by Year/Month. So even if I don't get them tagged properly, I know that I harvest squash every year in September. The events can be renamed, so I typically rename the events into Year/Month/Crop so I'll end up with an event for 2015/September/Squash.

Then there are tags: They allow me to attach multiple labels to the photos such as squash, flower, vine, harvest, market, bee. Then, there is a menu that displays all of the photos with the same tag. So if I want to find a photo of wildflowers I click on the wildflower link and every wildflower photo that I have ever tagged is displayed. The display is limited by how diligent I have been about tagging photos. I do tagging more often in the winter slow months than during the summer.

It is easy to document harvests. I take photos. I include notes in the photos sometimes so that I can remember why I took the photo.

I set my camera to take low resolution photos: VGA or 2M so that I don't burn through disk space. I have plenty of available space, and aim to keep it that way.

If I have tagged photos, or if I remember about when the event occurred then it is super easy to find things. Not so much without a tag or a date. There is also an option to display every photo I ever took as a gallery... I end up using that method sometimes.

Here's a few photos for example of my table at the farmer's market. I take photos of most every market, both an overview and closeups. I take photos of harvests. I take photos of how things are growing in the greenhouse. If I take a photo from the same place I can even make time-lapse photos.



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At the farmers market in September 2011.
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I keep track of how things grow in the greenhouse.
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Harvest on 5th October 2011.
 
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