With the recent spate of inclement weather the green fingered addict has to look elsewhere for a horticultural fix. Here are a few of the ideas I came up with:
While I was forced out of the garden this Easter, thoughts naturally turned to DIY and the flat ended up with a spring clean, a new lick of paint and an assortment of new shelves. With paint brushes and offcuts of wood littering the worktops it was an easy step to start rustling up a few homemade plant labels.
These are made from edging strips coated in white paint, the writing is done with a permanent marker and then coated with a layer of clear varnish. I reckon these will last a good few years and hopefully I won’t lose the next row of parsnips I sow – I can’t find the one I planted a few weeks ago.
Even with plant tags it can be quite easy to lose track of the layout of your plot. I’ve heard recently of a few websites that are offering plot design and garden layout tools so I tried out Plangarden which has two week free trial before asking your for a $20 per year subscription.
This enables you to draw up a visual image of your plot. I’m using it here to remember which variety of spud belongs to which row and to determine how much space I have left for everything I have left to sow.
It is its pretty useful but I’ve done it now and can’t quite see why I would carry on and pay for the subscription. There are a few other features such as a planting guide which aims to tell you according to location when it is appropriate to start planting. For my location it tells me that the last predicted spring frost will be the 25th April, so just one more month of anxiety to go.
There are two other gardening websites that I am much more convinced by and would like to recommend to you, these are myfolia and blotanical and both are free.
Myfolia is a beautifully designed website, it enables you to keep track of multiple different gardens eg veg patch, herb garden, flower bed and then monitor individual plantings in each. From there you can write blog posts and progress reports related to your plantings. It is linked to the online photo albums, flickr and picassa, so is very easy to create visually impactful posts.
I think this site is going to be invaluable when it comes to looking back and deciding when was the most successful time for planting broad beans for example. I have two rows planted a month apart and I will keep the progress reports going until they both crop.
The only thing about the site that I don’t like, is the enclosed nature of the website, I think you have to sign up in order to view the content so any blog post you write will only be seen by other members. This isn’t really a problem for me as I have an external blog anyway but I’d like to see an rss feed (or somesuch) that sucks in my existing posts rather requiring me to recreate them inside myfolia.
I’m sure things will change though, the developers are really keen to receive feedback and have made some great enhancements recently. For example the site also provides a few widgets to transfer myfolia content to your blog, on the lefthand toolbar I have a widget from myfolia detailing my latest plantings.
Apologies for the length of this post, we are now approaching the “and finally” bit.
And finally, there is blotanical. This is a great site, essentially a community of garden bloggers. Blogging communities are fairly common but this site has been designed so well you end up wanting to go back daily and as a result you are introduced to so many great blog posts and bloggers. I’ve never actually come across a site that manages to be quite so “sticky”.
All member blog posts are displayed on the site via an rss feed and can be viewed in all their visual glory, from within the blotanical site. You are encouraged through a membership point system to comment on and vote for outstanding blog posts. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this, I believe the voting system is sometimes used as a means to gain points rather than to highlight worthy reads but you aren’t obliged to join in.
If you have a garden blog, I would really recommend signing up for blotanical, my readership numbers have trebled since I joined last month and a lot of new and welcome commenters have come my way. I’ve also been introduced to a number of local and more exotic fellow bloggers, so I am never short of something interesting to read.
Phew! All done, have a flower for lasting this far.