This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

You know you're a gardener when...
Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Sep 14, 2009

Helpful Tool

After seeing the link for GrowVeg numerous times on quite a few blogs out there, I felt it was time to take a look at this popular tool. I unfortunately started my subscription not long before going in for surgery thinking that it would give me something other than some books to read while recovering- my road to recovery has been a bit off (a long story), not to mention it’s a little hard to do things on Darvocet :), so I only managed to get in a few sessions before my 30 day trial was up- sad but true. I do think, however, that 30 days is plenty of time to check it out and I did get some plans drawn up of my next garden!
To start off I’d like to say that it is very user friendly. I made my way around how to do things very easily. I also would recommend going through the tutorials because there were some tips in there that were useful (and probably would have saved me some time, if I’d watched them first- duh!).
Planning next year’s crops (or next garden, which I also played around with designing ;) is a snap. Planning the garden size, bed size, and what plants will go in which beds was very fun! The crop list was quite large and arranged with the alphabet above the icon for switching quickly, but if there is a crop you don’t see, the creators have added a basic crop icon in I believe 3 sizes for those really exotic crops you choose to grow. You’ll know how many plants can fit in whatever bed size you have planned out and printing out your plan or crop list is easy as well (with planting distance and I believe when to plant info too). I really like how you can put in your frost dates, which is how it calculates when to plant everything you plan to grow- nice.
Here is a list of features I snagged from their site and a screen shot as well-
  • Create Plans: Quickly produce garden plans, add plants and change the layout. Either metric units or feet and inches are supported.
  • Growing information: Just click for full details of how to grow each plant, where to position them etc
  • Spacing and Crop Families: Clearly shown by the colored area around each vegetable
  • Personalized Planting Chart: Print a chart showing how many of each plant you require and when to sow, plant out and harvest them. Our advanced system works out the dates for your own area.
  • Reminder Emails: Reminds you what needs sowing and planting out in your garden (optional)
  • Easy Crop Rotation: Plan next year’s garden and it shows you where to avoid planting each vegetable
One really helpful feature in GrowVeg is in crop rotation- upon planning your next year’s crops, you can start the plan with the previous year’s plan and when putting in the crops, if you happen to choose to put a crop in a place it was grown the year before the crop will highlight red alerting you of this- very useful! The crops are color coded to crop families too- again, nice!
There were a couple things I wish it had. There is pretty good info on each crop, but one thing that it’s missing is the ability to customize that info, making it fit how you grow them. For example, I start my beans (as of this year ;) in long paper pots to give them a good start and an advantage over pests- I would want to include how I start my crops, i.e direct sow, mini soil blocks, paper pots, 6 pack, etc. The other thing is I’d like to be able to include succession sowing info. I did ask them about adding the ability to customize crop info and this is something they plan to work on.
I was able to make some non-standard beds, like a keyhole bed, but it was a little challenging- I’m sure with practice it would get better. I also planned out my next greenhouse and adding the finer details like the location of water sources, bird baths, ponds, bug hotels and more was really a lot of fun!- it leaves a lot of room for your creativity and imagination!
Customer service was speedy and very friendly. The author saw I was from OR and sent me a very useful link to a site called Portland Bright Neighbor, which is a social network in Portland that helps to safely introduce Portland neighbors to one another- lots of good stuff and happenings info on this site even though I’m off subject here.
Bottom line, I like the tool and although I’m not crazy about a subscription fee of $20/yr. (although reasonable) because I try hard to keep the cost of gardening down, I think it would pay off in the long run because you could be more exact with how many plants you’d need- And for me, who uses graph paper quite a bit, it would cut down on wasteful paper use (helping trees). I’ll no doubt think about this next time I’m aiming my next scrapped plan for the recycling can! For now, it will go on my wish list :).
So go check it out and take advantage of their 30 day trial and decide for yourself! Have fun :)

Happy Gardening,
Note: Like other links and reviews on my blog, I put them here because I’ve used/tried them and like them. I get no payment, except the satisfaction of passing on great finds! Enjoy!
(See note at the bottom of my blog, which includes other companies I like)


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