Using Obsidian as a system to track plant progress

Hello all, I’m new here! I’ve been using Obsidian for a basic journal and to record ideas – the typical digital garden for quite some time now. I now want to use it for a different use case, with some very specific requirements, and to be honest, I’m a little stumped on where I should begin. I’m reaching out to the wonderful community here for ideas, combinations of existing plugins, and anything else that would aid in the following:

  • I want to log the growth characteristics of various plants that I grow from seed in my gardens.

  • I want to create notes that last a long time, where “long” depends on how long each seed lasts, from seed until death of the plant. This could be infinite, or at least infinite in human terms, or it could be relatively short in human terms, for annual plants. (I grow both perrenials and annuals, trees and fruiting shrubs, etc etc).

  • I would like to make an update periodically, on a per seed/plant basis, so the granular unit for a note would be each instance of a plant that is growing, and a new note would be created when that seed is sowed.

  • Each note/plant will be periodically updated, perhaps daily, perhaps weekly, and probably bi-weekly at the most, but with no fixed schedule – just when I get out in the field to take photos and document things.

  • I want a specific date-based note property to be updated relative to the sowed plant date, so I know how old each plant is.

  • The body of a plant update entry would consist of various measurements (plant size, air temperature/humidity, etc), various photographs of my findings, and anything else I’d like to document for that particular observation in the growing experiment.

I do grow many types of plants, but the one I am most interested in using this for are chili pepper plants, which there exist many cultivars produced by different breeders, and it is the stability of the genetics that I am ultimately after to document.

Growing from seed, the very same genetics, could yield drastically different results. I typically plant a few of each, document each one separately, compare photos, etc, in order to find out which products are more stable than others.

I don’t expect a full solution overnight here, but I want to get to work. I want to make it easy to add many instances of notes for a single source of seeds, add others for other sources, and cross-reference data points (and images) across all of them.

I know Dataview is going to be my friend here, but besides that, I’m not even quite sure on how to structure the basic vault and templates required for such an undertaking.

Just looking to brainstorm some ideas here. All suggestions are appreciated!

Sounds like you would find the Modal Form Plugin useful. This will help you get started with a consistant plant description. The templates will allow you to set dropdown menus and more. I don’t personally use it but have heard good things about it. I use the metadata menu plugin for metadata management but it is significantly more “hands-on” from what I can tell.

I understand that a centralized data storage is preferable but keeping tabular data in a text file might be cumbersome. I would suggest that you embedd CSV files into your vault and work on them on an external program; however, if you are indeed interested in keeping everything in a single place I can recommend that you use the advance tables plugin and Table to CSV exporter plugin to make it easier to mutate the data or even correct mistakes. You can easily change your CSV to markdown using a website like this one that I use.

I have seen several botanical experiments in my carreer as a microbiologist and I would say that pictures are a must, specially when the technician lacks the ability to describe samples in the precise jargon. Read around on image management solutions for your vault and get familiar with the extra options that embeds have (in the docs).

The interface between your notes and the real-world will definitely be the labels of each individual you want to track. Be sure to have a solution that helps you out with consistant names and a plastic labeler to avoid illegibility due to weathering.

good luck!

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Thank you for all of these good suggestions.

I admit, I was a bit tired when I wrote the above, and in thinking about it some more, it is a little far-fetched. I’m not a botanist or researcher of the sorts, just a small family horticulture business. That said, I think my main goal right now, is more simplified:

I want to create a journal for a particular plant, and document its journey through life on irregular basis, which is usually every couple of days. I don’t think I mind much about cross-referencing of data between different plants, moreso than I am viewing the full journal for one specific plant, same cultivar, same species, or not.

I think this is more feasible and where I’d get the most benefit from in the short term, as I would find it invaluable to be able to search for some cultivar, see that I have N journals for that name, and view each separately in an effort to improve ourselves as gardeners, learning from our mistakes, and how plants respond to different environments and growing techniques, improving future journal quality of the same plant type.

I’m going to think some more on this, but, that shouldn’t be all that difficult.

Thanks again!

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I have a small nursery and keep a single note for each perennial or shrub. The name of the note is “genus - species”. I separate and track each aspect of the plant by using headings.

The first H1 heading is general reference with simple bullet entries. If I capture a note from an external source, it gets a yaml text property link for that genre species note it relates to.

Each H2 is for a function or tracking. Ones that I track are:

  • H2 Propagation with sub headings (h3) seed sowing, (h3) cuttings, (h3) division… each (h3) followed by (h4) for dates of sowing or cuttings or divisions.
  • H2 Amending with subheadings (h3) fertilizer - this includes (h4) for dates, (h3) mulching followed by (h4) for dates of application
  • H2 Harvest - mostly for berries and other fruit

I think you get the idea. Plant info didn’t resonate for atomic notes for each aspect. However, If I’m writing a master gardener missive I will create that in a different note but reference the above (in yaml properties) for certain plants that are addressed in the article.

Keep us posted on your project. Nice use of spring time energy. Cheers!

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Thank you!

Yes, I’m thinking along very similar lines as you are. The only exception, perhaps, is that I have several of the same genus/species, with the same parental lineages, but from different sources, which were bred for different traits, so, I can’t use that as my jumping off point.

Gotcha, a separate note for each acquisition is more appropriate and since you’re probably wanting to analyze across all the acquisitions to track and trend, dataview and the thoughtful use of properties will be a good friend. Best wishes.

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Not sure if these match your case

Both the two can grab data from note property and table them.