Anybody use software to keep records

jcatblum(7)October 29, 2011

We use quicken for our rental houses, but I am looking for something more for market gardening. Something that helps with

~garden layout

~crop yields



Anything you like or don't like that you have tried? Part of my plasticulture grant I have to track good records, and I don't want to worry about finding a good tracking method this spring when I know I will be BUSY!!!!

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I have seen this book and I have one. It is pretty good. I hope next year I will use it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Farmers Business Handbook

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 10:58PM
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You can customize your Quicken for the gardening also. You will use different accounts, but that's just for the accounting side of gardening. I'm not sure what you could use for the plotting part. You can use most anything to keep track of your yields and such. Paper and pencil works also. Keeping records of the garden will not be as easy as rental properties, believe me, I've been there also.

I found that it's just easier for me, to write everything down and then do the book work. But, that's how I was taught before computers made the scene.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 1:32PM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

We will be using this for next year's crop planning.
The plant spacing is customizable and it's easy to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grow Veg Planner

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 10:42PM
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I have been building and refining my computer records and data base as long as I've been gardening. There are some good tools available, but often they are expensive. Here is the first place I would recommend that you go:

If you are proficient with Excel or some other spreadsheet management program, it isn't too hard to come up with tools to calculate seed-starting dates, planting or harvest estimates, p&l statements for specific crops, etc. Someday someone will come up with an affordable software program and will make a fortune.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 6:34PM
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spunbondwarrior(7 wst nc)

Get and read this PDF..... It maybe has somewhat close to what you are looking for.....

And then there are these:



For some odd reason, I have a browser's bookmarks tab labeled "GardenSoftware" with more of this same sort of stuff.
If you want more, just ask

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 9:36PM
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This is an interesting thread. I'm curious what features you all would consider the most useful for market garden or small farm management online tools. Examples might include:

- Sales planning,
- Expense tracking (including apportioning fixed expenses),
- Profit comparisons per crop, per season, per market, etc...
- Mobile-enabled (realtime tracking of expenses and sales as they occur),

I'm interested in all opinions. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 12:00AM
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Brett, I don't know if you can properly gauge what you are asking, until you have a few years under your belt.

Sales planning, if you're at the farmers market or your own stand, that would depend upon how many customers and what they might want that day. Very unpredictable.

Fixed expenses, can only be done at end of fiscal year.

Profit comparisons, also can only be done at the end of a certain time period. Also very unpredictable due weather and customers not be consistent.

Mobile-that would be the easiest. just send yourself a message at the time of expense or sales. I do that when I see a good deal or need to remember something.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 6:57PM
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Marla: I agree. The benefits of a data-oriented approach to farm/garden management grow significantly over time as more data is collected. In the beginning the data will be too sparse to see clear trends or come to firm conclusions about, for example, profitability of a crop within a season or profitability of attendance at a market. However, over time I think the ability to draw objective conclusions will become clearer. In other words, trends will start to show up.

I only have anecdotal evidence at this point, but I believe many small farmers and market gardeners manage the financial aspects of their farm or garden in an ad-hoc manner. I think one reason for this is a lack of approachable financial management tools targeted specifically at the small farmer/gardener (that's why I thought this thread was interesting). The tools I've tried out so far strike me as too general (Quicken) or too complex (custom Excel spreadsheets). So I think a lot of farmers and gardeners use paper which makes it harder (and more time consuming) to see trends and make data-driven decisions.

Businesses in other industries create relatively detailed annual budgets (the planning cycle) and then do their best to stick with them during the year by tracking revenues and expenses. They then iterate over time in an attempt to maximize the likelihood that they will generate a profit each year. I'd love to see these same principles intuitively applied to small farms and market gardens because decisions based on data are (generally speaking) more likely to result in long-term (financial) success.

I'm asking the questions above in an attempt to define a good set of features for online (web-based and/or mobile-device-based) tools that do a good job of hiding unnecessary complexity from the small farmer/gardener while still providing sophisticated views into budgets, revenues, expenses, and trends.

If you think I'm nuts, let me know!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 12:53PM
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You're here, so of course, you're nuts. We all are, at least alittle bit. I learnt Accounting the paper way, and I still find myself going back to pen/paper for alot of things. Then, I add to spreadsheets. I do admit that during the busy time, I don't always have time to enter everything, but having a notebook with me is easier than trying to remember everything. Those little pocket notebooks are wonderful.

I tried QuickBooks, I already had the program, and it worked once you created your own files. Luckily for me, with my background, I knew what I needed for the taxes. I kept track of those things, but the crop expectations were too far off from year to year, to know what to expect.

I've decided that my phone can send messages/photos of receipts to my email and that will help, if I can remember.
I'm sure there will be more things that will help, just not sure at this time.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 1:54PM
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I have played with a few programs, still haven't found one I love. I start an 8 wk market gardening class tonight, I am hoping there will be some good suggestions @ the class.
Also spunbondwarrior Terra farms stuff has interested me, but I keep holding off using there stuff, seems like an info-mercial to me, I am skeptical for some reason.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Keep us posted in regards to your class. I wish there had been something when I first started. I'm taking some Ag Econ, Entrepreneur, Intro to Hort and Soil Science classes this semester. Hopefully I'll learn something that I can use. Most of the class are regular corn/bean or cattle farmers. Several thousand acres versus my less than 30. Hubby and I give a totally different outlook on class discussions.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 4:37PM
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I've noticed that there don't seem to be many quality choices for market garden and small farm management tools. I was asking for input above because a couple of us have decided to create a web (and eventually mobile) based application to help in this area.

I have posted an eight minute video on the page linked below showing where the app is at so far. If you have a chance please take a look and leave some feedback either here or as comments on our blog.

By the way, I'm still interested in any other farm/garden management tools that folks have found useful.


Here is a link that might be useful: Profitable Farmer Home Page

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 11:56PM
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Brett, I checked out the Profitable Farmer. I would need to see it complete but it seems like something we may be interested in trying. I am eager to see how expenses and actual income (not expected sales) are entered.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 6:54PM
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Thanks very much for the feedback. I'll let you know here and on our blog, twitter feed, and email list when that functionality is ready. Shouldn't be long! We'll definitely need some volunteers to give it a whirl and provide candid feedback.

By the way, I enjoyed looking through your blog posts ( Keep 'em coming!


    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:44PM
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I recieved an email from Johnny's this week offering to try their software free for 3 months. I haven't looked at it yet, but plan to try & play with it in the next few weeks. Also willing to try out the Profitable farmers program.
I tried Mother Earth News & didn't like it. Also tried Garden Planner (I think) Laying out the garden was too difficult to enjoy the software, but the data features seemed to be similar to what I am looking for.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 1:51PM
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