Databasing and labels

Kathleen Sayce
Sun, 27 Nov 2011 12:00:06 PST
Like Richard, I use a Mac and Filemaker Pro. FMP is relatively intuitive, and comes with sample databases set up and ready to use. It's a relatively small platform with regards to hard drive space on the computer. It also lets me export data sets, and is quite easily tinkered with on wet windy days when there's no outside work. The ease with which it can be modified and improved is impressive, even for novice programmers like myself.

I also use Excel, which is good so long as you keep your entries to lists. For example, I use Excel to track incoming seed and bulb lots by year, having not started an Index Seminorum. This gives me a quick place to check, by year, for incoming seed lots. If I were starting to garden now, I'd probably use an IS. For hardcore bulbophiles, that is a very good idea.

When plants go out into the garden, each one gets an entry in the database, so that I can track location, provenance and performance. I enjoyed reading Richard's description of his FMP file, because he's combined several functions into one dataset. I don't need the label printing capacity, but see that for commercial operations this gives excellent flexibility for plant label content printing. 

For labels, I use a Brother printer, and have used plastic or metal blinds. I am slowly switching to all stainless steel labels in the garden. In pots, I've gotten by with one label, well jammed down, and really like Dave's suggestion of writing on the pot with a silver marker. 

The day you see a Steller's Jay perched on a set of your newly potted PC Iris seeds, systematically tossing each label aside as it probes for food (AKA those fresh seeds) is the day when you rethink  a lot about how you handle seeds, labels and access to pots! And then you start a new field in the database: why I lost this plant, with an ever-expanding group of whys. 

PNW Coast, on a soggy day after yet another storm

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