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Airtable for recording growing

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  • Airtable for recording growing

    This is in answer to jayb asking me about Airtable. My reply was too long for a comment and was going rather definitely off topic. So I thought it best to begin a new topic here.

    I heard of Airtable through Steve's Seaside Allotment on Youtube. He offers a a kind of masterplan but then I actually used my own. After that I found my middle son was using it for the community work he does because it lends itself to that too. I shared access with him and he suggested ways I might improve my use of it which took it old a bit further.

    My main base is a growing log but with separate tables for beans, tomatoes and peppers. Not sure why I haven't got a separate pea one but it's not altogether logical - work in progress! I also have separate bases for annual ornamentals, plants I plant in the rest of the garden and I did start one for weather with last frosts etc but haven't really kept that up. The main one is the growing log on which I aim to record sowing date, numbers, descriptions, planting out date, position, first harvest, seed saving etc.

    I think I can share my records, warts and all, Jayb or anyone, if you want to have an idea of how I've used it. I think it's really good for the kind of stuff we do as it's so user-friendly and adaptable compared with Excel etc, and really easy to add photos and data to, especially if you have the app also on your phone and can add things to it as you go.

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing this. I've signed up and it looks really cool, but for me it's going to take some getting used to. Please could you possibly link the video where you found out about this? Going to need all the guidance I can get!

    Edit: Never mind, I found the video/s
    Last edited by triffid; 28-04-2020, 20:22.

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    • #3
      I am lagging behind (not unusual). What is airtable? What does it do?
      Is there a url? Is it for allotments only (as you do not have an allotment). Would appreciate more info please.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Jang View Post
        I think I can share my records, warts and all, Jayb or anyone, if you want to have an idea of how I've used it. I think it's really good for the kind of stuff we do as it's so user-friendly and adaptable compared with Excel etc, and really easy to add photos and data to, especially if you have the app also on your phone and can add things to it as you go.
        Oooh yes please, if you are ok with sharing then I think that would be very helpful, I'm quite basic in my knowledge of how to do stuff and what might be possible.

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        • Jang
          Jang commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm very happy to do that. I've sent a link by pm. Hope it works but can do it another way if not.

      • #5
        I came across Steve's Seaside Allotment recently it may even have been following a post here. I'll leave Jang explain as I know it will be so much better than I ever could attempt, but here's a link to youtube channel

        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChp...Z2BfShQlYzwUDQ
        edit to add I think this is more about airtable than the link above which is more his growing videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...LNVNySsLcAFWHP
        Last edited by jayb; 29-04-2020, 14:27.

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      • #6
        Airtable is a database - I think that's the technical term. For me it's a way of recording any information I have about the seeds I have and then recording the process of growing - sowing date, how many sown, planting out date, growing notes, photos, etc. One table has all the seeds I have and then when I sow the seeds I link back to that. I have it on my laptop and on my phone as well so I can add information or photos when I'm out in the garden.

        It's not at all specifically for growing things; I think small businesses use it and, as I mentioned above, my son uses it for his work in the local community. But its real virtue is how adaptable and easy to use it is once you get used to it.

        I'm very happy to share my use of it if you're interested, Galina, or anyone else for that matter. Jayb has given some links for the use of it by the Youtube character, Steve. The app/software itself can be downloaded at: https://airtable.com/downloads. It's completely free.

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        • Galina
          Galina commented
          Editing a comment
          Oh thank you very much for the explanation. Databases are such a great help. I have been using Microsoft Access for a very long time now, have to think, at least 2 decades. First for business, then for seeds too. I would strongly recommend a database. Will work through the links thank you both very much. Sounds great.

      • #7
        For seed saving we would need extra columns. Like seed in freezer or not, grow out by when for planning what to grow which year, actually sown or planted and germinated or planted out and growing. I noticed that he does not mention using any out of date packets, but in real life I guess we would use those up too.

        For breeding and keeping track of several filial lines of several crosses it gets quite tricky. With seed swaps and seed circles I also have an origin column, where did the seed come from and if possible, what was the OS, the original source. I would love a link to photos (not seed packet photos but real life photos), but have not done so yet, one of the problem with that is that most photos are stored on a stick and not on the computer. It would be really useful to follow up breeding lines with photos rather than just descriptions.

        And I also think there must be a remarks column. There is always something that is a bit wonderful or strange, also a comment of something noticed during the growing period. Like when we noticed the potato leaves in Y F Hog tomato and speculated whether this feature related to an accidental cross or is true for that seed batch (it is true). Or brown winter squash seeds harvested from a white seeded c maxima squash as happened with a HSL variety that must have been accidentally crossed to show these features. Or indeed to flag up a seed mix up like I had with Oregon Giant and Oregon Sugar Pod peas. I noticed a couple of white flowering plants on Charlie's Gold Snap pea, which I flagged up as strange in the database, and saved seeds separately. Much later, and brain working, it occurred to me that these are valuable, because the recessive white flowering gene from Amish Snap had shown itself generations later, which would be a stable feature from now on, whereas the purple flowering majority could still throw up white flowers in future generations.

        On my cucurbita database 'species' is one obvious column (but also for beans). I forgot to add trailing or bush as a category, but this can be added later. Indeterminate or determinate is a column in my tomato database. Plant height is important for tomatoes, peas and beans too. With lettuce there is a black seeded or a white seeded column.

        Long story short, I could not garden without my databases. Not everything is always recorded, I sometimes forget to add bean flower colour or whether a tomato is determinate, but there is always next time.
        Last edited by Galina; 30-04-2020, 05:59.

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        • Jang
          Jang commented
          Editing a comment
          I completely agree. I didn't use the database generously offered as a starter by 'Steve'. I just got the general idea. My own includes source of seeds, Latin name, comments, observations etc.
          I haven't yet had crosses to record so that's a bridge to cross when I get that far. Many years behind here! But yes, that will be a whole complex table of its own.At the moment I simply have a column for date seed is saved but that's for straightforward seed saving.
          White seeded and black seeded for lettuce is interesting. One to be pursued.

          But all in all I find it so much easier to add photos to than Excel or Word. (I haven't used Access). If you take photos with your phone you can add them straight on to the phone version there and then which for me saves an awful lot of more cumbersome procedures.

      • #8
        This weekend I finally got around to transferring some of my data in earnest from Drive to Airtable, and spent a good few hours getting familiar with the features.
        Goodness, what a treat. And I'm sure I'm only scratching the surface.

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        • Jang
          Jang commented
          Editing a comment
          Really pleased you found it satisfying. The ease of adding photos, linking different tables etc .....
          The only aspect which irks me a little is that without spending big bucks you can’t vary text much by changing colours, using bold, italics etc
          Otherwise the free version is beautifully usable.
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