J.E. Shields
Fri, 03 Oct 2003 10:35:01 PDT
Hi Arnold and all,

There is probably no "universal" database, because the most powerful ones 
are a bit overwhelming to the novice DB user.

I do have some words of advice to anyone starting a new database: use a lot 
more separate, detailed individual fields than you think (right now) that 
you will need!

I would suggest the following as an absolute minimum for the MAIN TABLE:

Genus name
Species name
Subspecific name(s) i.e., subspecies name, or variety name, or form name
Cultivar name
Accession Number (this is the single most important item in the whole list!)
Date acquired

You can make a separate table for Genus names vs. Family names   Then, if a 
genus gets moved from one family to another, you only have to change it in 
one place, i.e., in this table.

You can and should make a separate table for details about what has been 
done with or observed in the individual accessions.  Use that "Accession 
Number" to link this table to the main table.

The worst single mistake the novice database designer can make is to lump 
all the names into one field, e.g.

Name:  "Ismene narcissiflora Advance"

instead of

Genus:  Ismene
Species: narcissiflora
Subspecific names:
Cultivar name:  Advance

Keep in mind that what one person sends you as Lachenalia bulbifera may not 
be the same thing that another person may send you as Lachenalia 
bulbifera  --  those accessions numbers enable you to keep your various 
different examples of "Lachenalia bulbifera" separated in your database.

I use Microsoft Access, a relational database.  It is indeed very powerful, 
and lends itself, after you learn to use it, to some pretty sophisticated 
data analysis, report generation, etc.

But I'm prejudiced.  I've been working with databases for a long time.  The 
rank beginner should probably use Excel or some other spreadsheet.  If you 
use Excel, you can later pull all those worksheets into an Access database 
as tables, if you want to upgrade your data systems.

If you expect to share data with other hobbyists, be sure to use one of the 
common programs, like Excel or Access.  Don't go for cheap or obscure and 
then expect to be able to share data with everyone else.

I have an MS Access database template (i.e., an empty database) for bulb 
collections, if you have MS Access and want to look an example.  (Contact 
me privately at <> if you are interested.)

Good luck!

Jim Shields
in central Indiana

At 12:53 PM 10/3/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>I know that Mary Sue has worked hard to keep the "topics of the week" 
>flowing but I just came upon a topic that I think we all could use some 
>input on.  I need a data base to store information on all my bulbs.  I am 
>sure that we all  have improvised some sort of system for keeping track of 
>where we planted, where we got from and how it grows and flowers.
>So, is there any " expert" out there that has the ultimate data base we 
>all could use or does anyone have suggestions as to what the data base 
>should contain..  I am sure that there is one better than the one I have 
>New Jersey

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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