Record keeping ideas?

deanriowa(4b)November 20, 2009

As I grow more beans each year and try new varieties, I have thought I should start keeping some records on the different varieties and how they did. I have thought about maybe using a excel sheet to track my beans. I think with Excel I could add some pictures as well.

How does everyone keep records on the different beans you grow?

What information do you track?



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Good question and I'd also like to know what info USDA wants in relation to GRIN accessions, and how to present it. Does anyone know?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 3:33PM
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Right now I just have a handwritten journal for my whole veggie garden. I make an entry whenever I plant or harvest something, and any general observations I feel worth noting. I think next year I'm going to also record how much I plant and how much I harvest so I can plan more appropriate yields for how much I use.

I hope more people reply to this, because I'm sure my method could be improved. Right now I only use Excel for my seed inventory, keeping track of what kind of seed, what year it's from, seed source, and how many I have left. Might be good to put more info into Excel if I can figure out how to do it. I didn't know you could put pictures in Excel.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 1:17PM
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Here are some ideas of what to track for growing legumes. Please review and let me know, of any additional items I could track and of any recommended title changes.


Type i.e. Common Bean, Runner Bean, Peanut
Climbing Habit                       i.e. Bush, Pole, Runner
?????                       i.e. Dry, Wax Snap, Shelly
Days to Maturity
Note:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â i.e. Stringless, Curved bean


Size(length)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â i.e. 20 feet row
Garden Location
Note                       i.e. Used Cattle Panel

Growing Season
Weather Notes
Disease Notes

Start Date
End Date
Used as                        i.e. Snap, Shelly, Dry
Grow again                       i.e. Y or N

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 12:13PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I haven't decided how I'm going to record my adventures in bean growing yet but am toying with the idea of a photo album of all the varieties I'm growing, photos of the pods, seed at the shellie stage and dried seed. Not that this is going to be useful in any way :o).


    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 1:46PM
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Dean, I use an Access Database and my headings are: Name. Species. flower colour. pod length, shape, colour. bean seed size, colour, description. beans per pod. plant habit. special comments. Use. Yield. harvest time. Donor info. Years grown out and lastly a column with the year I plan to grow the variety again.

I should have probably added a column giving the year I first received a seed variety.

In the link below is the ultimate guide how to catalogue and photograph beans. HTH

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 7:01PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

That's an interesting link, Galina. I've used the USDA's descriptors & SSE's guidelines to design my own descriptor form, plus a couple worksheets that I use to collect data for the year in progress. The USDA's system is very complex... and doesn't come with a "user's guide" such as the one in your link. Or at least, I haven't found it yet.

I've never described this, since the 2-sided form is rather lengthy... wish I could just post it. The form often has more than one item per line, sometimes with selections which can be circled. There are also plenty of blank lines to record observations. The basic outline follows:

Front page:

Cultivar/Source Data
- Common name & variety (I use SSE's guidelines, such as "Bean/pole/dry Calypso")
- SSE number + other accession number (such as USDA or Gatersleben)
- Family + species
- Possible alias or similar
- Source/year + year grown

- Date/days: Sow / Germination / Flower / Seed
- Transplant? (select plastic cell, peat pot, rooted cutting, hotbed, other)
- Spacing: plant / row
- Culture: (select climbing, caged, trailing, row, pot, greenhouse)(could add raised bed to this)
- Spacing/culture correct? (yes/no)(if "no", remarks on line below)
- Blanks for mulch / irrigation / isolation method
- Organic? (yes/no) + blanks for fertilizer / chemical applications
- Lines for Culture remarks

Plant Description + Photographs? (yes/no)
- Blanks for height / spread / growth habit
- Sections of lines for describing:
Reactions to environmental stress:
Disease observations:
Insect/animal observation:

Back page:

Harvest Evaluation
- Date/days for vegetable maturity (green + ripe, or shell for legumes)
- Total plants (or row feet) + Quantity + Weight
- Vegetable yield per plant/row foot + Quantity + Weight
- Seed Yield (total weight) + Weight per 100 seeds (grams)
- Seeds per ounce + avg. weight per plant + avg. seeds/plant
- Lines for harvest remarks

Culinary Qualities
(This is where I enter flavor, texture, ease of preparation, etc. Methods of preparation & specific use tested are mentioned, such as salad, boiled, grilled, sauce, chili, soup, etc.)
- Sections of lines for describing:
Fresh cooked:
Dry (either seed, or dehydrated):
Shell quality (legumes only):

General Comments:
Lines for anything which was not covered, or needs further explanation. At the very least, I always include:
- Any other varieties of the same species grown nearby & distances. This will help to identify the parentage any crosses which might appear in following years.
- A summary of the weather for the growing season, and its effects.
- Any other factors which might have influenced plant growth or seed purity, such as shade, soil variations, late planting, or damage to isolation methods.

This is the main descriptor page; there are addendum pages (much simpler) that can be used to record the differences in performance in successive years. There is also a worksheet that I use to list all varieties, their planned location, whether transplants are needed, and to record all date information: plant/germ/flower (flower color is recorded also)/harvest (green)/harvest (ripe)/harvest (dry). I generally use one of these worksheets for each of the main families (Leguminosae, Solanaceae, Cucurbitaceae) plus miscellaneous.

Dean, you'll be getting a package from me shortly, with the seed we discussed previously. I'll enclose a copy of the descriptor sheet that I use, plus the worksheet I use to record dates.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Zeedman, could you scan the sheet front and back and put the file on a filehosting site and post a link here?

Mediafire advertises itself as the simplest to use, you don't need an account apparently.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 4:35PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Happyday, I'd love to post my forms... but not there. The free accounts are "advertiser supported", and do not offer direct links. I wouldn't mind sending out the file directly, but it is WordPerfect format - usable only by Microsoft haters like myself. Not sure if I could scan it to create a more usable image file. I'll have to do some experimentation.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 12:30AM
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It is not difficult to create a personal recording method and there are now many good suggestions above. The question remains whether to choose paper or computer.

Some of the record headers will be more or less important to different gardeners. I am sure a market grower will want to record fertiliser input, a home gardener may not feel the need. A seedsaver tends to not worry about the cost of seed, as it is a once off. Even a very heavy shipping charge can be traded off against to a lifetime of 'free' seeds.

I think, the header 'grow again yes or no' should be used with caution. If the variety was diseased, and if after culling diseased plants there were not enough plants left, then there may be no choice. However if a new bean variety was simply not adapted, for example if KY seeds underperformed in their first year in the UK, then a decision not to continue should only be taken after at least one more growing cycle with own, now better adapted seeds. Similarly, if the weather or other factors were responsible for a difficult season. I had an underperforming yellow variety this year, Mazlenk Visok Rumen II, which I suspect will do much better with adapted seeds, and especially in a warmer summer. Oregon Giant on the other hand clearly underperforms during a warmer and drier summer. If I was a commercial grower I would need to discard both, but as a home gardener I cherish the fact that different beans flourish in different years and plan my garden around it. As a consequence I very rarely say 'no' to any variety. And with changing environmental circumstances who knows which varieties will be coming to the fore in 20 years? Sorry, I digress.

It is helpful to go back to older seed samples, if a problem occurs. For example if a few crossed plants were to turn up, if the plants showed signs of disease or if stored seeds lost their label, got attacked by the bean weevil or simply got dropped and mixed up. Therefore I find it helpful to see at a glance from my records every year I have saved seeds of one variety. This makes it possible to go back to a known sound batch.

I haven't done this yet on my database, but there could also be a column to show who has been sent seeds. I tend to remember where my seeds came from but not who I send seeds to. This is important if beans are grown that are very rare and only maintained by a few people, because problems can happen. Also a note where seeds are stored - seed drawer or freezer to make finding a batch easier.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 6:54AM
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Thank you everyone for sharing. I like the ideas of using USDA and passport data as templates. I think out of those I will be able to come up with some nice templates.

Zeedman, you examples are really detailed and I am look forward to see digital examples. I think you can convert the WordPerfect docs to Word docs by using the instructions at this Link.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 11:08AM
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Zeedman, I agree with you on Microsoft. I don't care for having to buy a new version of Office every couple years myself. But I don't think I have Wordperfect anymore, if I do it's an old version.

May I suggest just uploading a scanned image file to any file sharing site, and anyone can download, printout and either use on paper or re-create the file in the format of their choice.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 2:12PM
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tammyinwv(z6/WV) works pretty well. It is free, and will open microsoft files.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 7:47AM
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I agree with Tammy OpenOffice is a nice bundle of software, which emulates Microsoft's Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access quite well. I personally use Google's online services via Gmail for documents and spreadsheets, which is also free and gives me access anywhere in the world as long as I have an internet access.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 9:26AM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

Excellent info for those who are interested in such things.


Note: The link cited by galina has changed.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 3:32PM
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