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Message started by AndreasVlach on Jun 11th, 2008, 1:53am

Title: Gardening
Post by AndreasVlach on Jun 11th, 2008, 1:53am

Hi all!

Just wanted to share an application of Tindebrox which is still in the works, but proves to be quite useful for me: Gardening.

Basically i created a note for every plant in our garden, and arranged them onto a map representing more or less the shape and location of our beds, trees, buildings etc.

The notes for the plants contain also information about when to seed/plant/harvest etc. them, which is then used by agents to give an overview of the monthly work to be done:

In the future i plan to add also some observations-info about how different plants react best to what places in the garden (sunshine/wind exposure/soil etc.).

Any further ideas are very welcome! :)


Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Paul Walters on Jun 11th, 2008, 8:27am

What a wonderful application!  It takes advantage of the representational value of maps and structure on many levels and should be a very useful tool for you.  Have you constructed any HTML or text exports?  Perhaps someday we can see the whole document on the Tinderbox exchange?

Thank you for sharing, Andreas

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by AndreasVlach on Jun 11th, 2008, 10:07am

Hello Paul!

Yes, it has become very useful for me, simply because i'm a beginner in gardening and tend therefor to forget about some stuff. And besides that its a bit like writing my own "Garden-Experience/History noteboook".

So far i haven't done any exports, over time when theres more information for some plants that might become useful i guess.

Perhaps someday we can see the whole document on the Tinderbox exchange?

Sure :) First i want to make some changes, mainly because the basic structure of the file was done more than a a year ago - now i want to use Badges, Note shapes and Sets for further enhancing the optic appearence and make usability easier. I will do that within the next days, but at the moment i'm busy with those slugs in the garden, where Tinderbox sadly enough can't help ;)  


Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Christoph on Jun 11th, 2008, 1:03pm

Hi Andreas

what an astounding coincidence! I am putting together a Tinderbox document for exactly the same purpose. For now, I am taking digital pictures each week and take notes of flowering times, colour, soil, moisture etc. Some areas of our garden are rich in plant species but the temporal sequence is not well harmonized.
I was also toying with the idea of using a picture adornment courtesy of Google Earth to have an even better spatial representation but haven't done this yet. Let's exchange our experiences


Title: Re: Gardening
Post by AndreasVlach on Jun 11th, 2008, 2:22pm

Hi Christoph!

Yes, taking pictures migth be interesting for me as well ... and i plan - over the years - to harmonize the temporal sequence with the help of tinderbox as well. Google Earth won't work well for me, the resolution of the image where i live simply isn't good enough to make any sense.

And i will be happy to write here more about my experiences with it, as well as to read yours :) How do you plan to use the images of the plants in the Tinderbox-project?


Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Christoph on Jun 12th, 2008, 4:22am

Hi Andreas,
for the moment I only use the images to note flowering times and colours. The images are also quite useful for something that cannot be transformed into variables such as how "complete" a specific area of the garden looks, if it visually competes with other areas but that is a side aspect I haven't put much thought into. They are just useful to have I guess and besides, I like to take the pictures. Just like I enjoy working in the garden, that's the whole point.

My Tinderbox document is much less sophisiticated than yours presumably, different containers for different parts of the garden, a couple of agents summarizing flowering times and things to do and when.
The work I still have to do myself, I simply could not make a Tinderbox agent go out and actually harvest my cherries. Syntax problem if you ask me.


Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Rafter T. Sass on Jun 20th, 2008, 9:09pm

I use Tinderbox for ecological landscape design. I've entered a few hundred plants into a TBX file, with User Attributes for everything from human uses (like food, medicine, or coppice) to habitat and native range, to ecological function (like N-fixing, groundcover, insectary, etc.) to soil pH, light and moisture preferences.

I've used the amazing Edible Forest Gardens Vol II, by Dave Jacke, as my main source for plant info.

Then I create custom agents for different site characteristics, and use the results to create polyculture guilds, with every ecological function taken care of by at least one plant species, and some food and medicine produced to boot.

In the future I think I'll use base maps (or Google Earth images) as background for placing the agents in spatial relationship.

What I REALLY want, long term, is to figure out how to export a given collection of notes, representing a master plant list, in a useful spreadsheet-style format. I'm just not there yet in my tinderbox acumen.

If only somebody would pay me to do TBX fulltime!

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Mark Bernstein on Jun 21st, 2008, 8:31am

It won't replace your main source of income, but we'd be very interested in a case study or screencast, or maybe a series, on Tinderbox for gardening and allied tasks.  Maybe a profile article interviewing the people in this discussion.

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 21st, 2008, 10:51am

Rafter, if you've some specimen data and a slightly more detailed description of what you want in the spreadsheet I'm sure I can help with the spreadsheet export.  TB can certainly export - for instance - a tab-delimited text file such as Excel can read - though at worst we might need to tweak the internal format with a re-save in something (free) like TextWrangler. The latter would only be necessary if the default export from TB wasn't readable into Excel - under the hood not all 'text' is the same, even supposed 'plain text'. As ever the Devil's in the detail...the exact template depends on what you're trying to do. By all means drop me an email to discuss detail lest this get into a long divergent thread**; no liability except I'd like to be able to share the broad details with the TB community when done.

** I think previous readers misunderstood my post.  I was merely trying to avoid a narrow technical issue of data export technique getting cross-threaded with the wider topic and TB, Gradening. etc. Many user's prefer not to pass complete personal source (TBX) data to a public - thus the offer of looking at it privately. Indeed the whole point was to look for things from that to share back with the TB community in suitably sanitised form. Oh well, no good deed goes unpunished!  :)

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Christoph on Jun 23rd, 2008, 5:10am

"... lest this get into a long thread"

Why not let this develop into a lively discussion between all interested parties? Sometimes it is more inspiring to seek the tools (with the help of all the friendly people here on this forum) when one is really interested in getting it to work the way one wants to rather than being presented a solution up front. The shared joy of finally getting it right as well as sparking some unexpected ideas along the way is the whole idea behind a forum, is it not?
No criticism here, just my view

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 23rd, 2008, 7:07am

Christoph, no problem at all. I didn't mean to stop discussion of the Gardening & TB but simply avoid the narrower tech point of exporting data for spreadsheet use getting interwoven, especially if sorting one particular persons exports neds (i.e. exact attribute names, etc). Anyway, since my last post here and for anyone interested in export for spreadsheets, I've already posted a specimen file (linked via a new topic) that will show how to go about export to tab-delimited or CSV text file; that topic will let discussion of the fine detail of export not interrupt this interesting thread on TB, gardening and plants.

Title: Meta: On Long Threads
Post by Mark Bernstein on Jun 23rd, 2008, 11:26am

I agree; there's nothing wrong with long threads.

It might be useful, as this excellent discussion progresses, to extract the ideas to a page on the Tinderbox Wiki.  This is also true of some of the interesting recent discussions, for example, on Tinderbox for planning novels.

Just an idea.

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Christoph on Jun 24th, 2008, 3:35am

@Mark Anderson
good point about branching off side aspects to maintain a clearer focus. So long as valuable discussion are not continued in private emails all is well. Thanks for being around so much


Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Rafter T. Sass on Jun 24th, 2008, 11:42pm

I'll be creating/tweaking agent prototypes over the next couple weeks, and I think I'll be ready to share more at that time.

I'm hoping to automate the creation of a constellation of agents for different ecological functions, niches, yields, etc., that will be generated by dropping a note into a given container (or adornment). I *think* it's doable! Gimme a few days...

I just finished implementing the first landscape I designed using Tinderbox as a design tool!

I'm trying to decide now if I want to continue using the elaborate adornment-based workflow I create for entering plants into the database:

...or just enter them into an excel worksheet, formatted appropriately, and then import from excel into Tbx.

The nice thing about the graphic/adornment workflow is that I can enter plant info one handed, so I can follow along a long spreadsheet row with my finger, and not mix up date between rows.

I should do a test run, and see which is faster for entering a page of information.

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Rafter T. Sass on Jun 25th, 2008, 12:20am

To Mark A:

I'd would love some help! What I'd like is to have a few standard templates, with different selections of attributes.

I would want to be able to import a file to excel, that would then have the first column of all plant names, and then the cells of each row comprised of characteristics of that plant  (that are values from user attributes).

How does one email you, if one wants to share samples and specifications?

Title: Re: Gardening
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 25th, 2008, 3:43am

Rafter, no problem. There should be an email button at the bottom of each post (I'll PM you my address as well). What TB version are you using? I ask just so I know whether to use internal templates or not - internal keeps it all in one file & I find that better for maintenance.  also let me know if you prefer tab-delimited or comma-separated as your text format for Excel imports.

In you email, could you list the export columns  - in order - by name and indicate for each what the relevant attribute is called and the data type of the attribute. In most cases the type doesn't matter but with Date fields we need to consider formatting for correct Excel import, assuming you want an Excel date cell when imported - otherwise we can just generate a text string that Excel will treat as text.

If you haven't already, take a look at this thread on Exporting for Spreadsheets where I've linked to a quick generic demo of the process you describe.  With your info and can make templates more suited to your task.

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