By George Boyhan
University of Georgia
Modern computers offer record-keeping capabilities that are both text and graphic. This can be great fun. Not only can you keep track of your gardening efforts. You can keep pictures of changes in your garden, too. And you can keep all of it within same file.
Many great programs can be used to keep your garden records. Programs like Microsoft Works or AppleWorks record your efforts and store your pictures, too.
Keep records of your planting dates, varieties, crop rotation and fertilization. Make note of any problems or mistakes so you can make changes in the future. Don't forget to note your successes, too -- which vegetables did well and which didn't.
Picture thisModern computers can really shine when you include graphical information. An inexpensive digital camera can add pictures to document exactly what was happening at any time in your garden. If you're having a problem, a picture e-mailed to an experienced gardener or your county extension agent can help them help you.
You can even sketch out a diagram of your garden with dimensions and information about what you've planted and where. This can help you plan for following crops or to plan a multiyear rotation.
You don't need an expensive graphics or drawing program for this. Most word processors and spreadsheet programs offer some kind of graphics capabilities.
Here's an interesting way to use your computer and printer in your garden. Buy peel-off labels you can print from your computer. Print out the name of the crop, variety and planting date and put them on your planting stake.
No postageYou can print this information on a postcard that you can put in a Mason jar (to keep it from getting wet) and place at the head of each row. Perforated postcards especially designed for computer printers are at department and office supply stores.
If you really want to get serious about keeping track of your garden, you might want to log onto the Internet and download weather and rainfall data to add to the information you collect. You might even want to get a PDA (personal digital assistant) and jot down information while you're out in the garden.
Using a computer to help you garden can expand your enjoyment of gardening, especially if you're a technophile. The information you record will help as you plan future plantings. It will let you look back at your gardening successes, too, and reduce the number of failures.
(George Boyhan is an Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
(George Boyhan is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)