Plant Entry Format Discussion

David Trammel's picture

I had originally planned to post a template, which everyone could copy, to save the time in formatting their posts, should they like to begin a post on a certain plant here.

I realized that you wouldn't be able to see the underlying coding, nor copy it to a new post because you are not the author of the post. Editing is an option only if you wrote it. Also if you don't know the basics of web coding, called HTML, or the advanced ins and outs of posting to the Green Wizard forums, aka Durpal software, then copying by hand the format will be difficult.

What I can do though, is begin any new entry post for you, with the formatting already in place and using my Admin privileges, author it to you, so you can come in and both write to it, and edit it.

So if there is a particular plant that you are experienced in growing, know a lot about it in general, or just want to take a stab at learning a new plant, please post a request in a reply on this thread.

I will get it up ASAP.

For now I am going to begin slowly going through the current posts on the Food and Garden Circle, beginning at the oldest posts, and adding entries as I come across comments or threads pertaining to that plant. This way I won't miss very much.

The new entries will be sparse but pick up information as time goes by.

Note: I have added an additional bit of information to the "Taxonomy" section, four classifications which are Eatable, Helpful, Unhelpful and Poisonous. I realized we had forgotten that. Helpful plants might be those that concentrate toxins or chemicals, but are not eatable. Unhelpful might be plants which are weed and uneatable, or look alike plants to eatables ones, and which are not eatable themselves. Poisonous I believe is self explanatory.

Feel free to suggest other additional info I have missed.



Name: (text)

(insert photo) .

Also Know As: (text)

Taxonomy: Plant, of the Family of (text), (is it Eatible, Useful, Nonuseful, Poisonous)

General Information: (text)


Historical Information: (text)

--- "Quotes and Fun Facts": (text)


Cultivating This Plant:

--- Varieties: (text)

--- Soil Range, Fertilizers and Planting Info: (text)

--- Life Cycle: (text)

--- Harvesting: (text)

--- Diseases and Pests: (text)

--- Companion Plants: (text)


Nutritional Data:

(Link to the USDA Nutritional Database will be added by the Admin)



Cautions and Hazards: (text)


Cooking and Eating:

--- Historical Dishes: (text)

--- Useful Recipes and Cooking Hints: (text)

--- Storage of the Harvest: (text)


Medical and Herbal Lore: (text)


GW Forum Links To Thread Discussions: (text)


Outside Links: (text)

Edible, inedible and poisonous-nonpoisonous are not always so clear cut. Some plants have parts that are edible and parts that are poisonous or medicinal or need cooking to render edible. Poke weed has edible young leaves that are to be washed in three waters, the seeds are poisonous, but some people swallow the unchewed berries dried whole for treating rheumatic disorders, taking care not to break open the tiny seeds inside. Other plants are just as confusing. Nettle plants. Etc.

Maybe specify edible parts and preparation instructions in the cooking section. Cautions and hazards can hold poisonous parts, uncooked dangers.

Here is how I organized the categories:

Common Name
Scientific Name
General Description
Uses: Food, Medicine, Dye, Splints, Tools, Cooking utensils, Furniture, etc.
Cautions, Hazards

Cultivars, varieties, similar species
Alternate Names, former names
GW Forum Links
Outside links
Fun Facts, historical dishes

Starting: from seed; from cutting; by rootstock, rhizome, bulb, grafting; other
Bedding Out: plant spacing, soil temperature, soil amendments, best rotation cycle, companion plants
Best soil type: Loamy, moist; Sandy, well-drained; Mineral-dense, clay
Sowing Season & Habits: Annual, Perennial, Biennial, self seeding, self pollinating, dioecious
Plant Health maintenance: diseases, pests, treatments, cold shelters, interventions

Signs of ripeness, over- and under-ripe
Gathering tips. Gloves, techniques
Cooking and Eating fresh: prep-steps, recipes
Preserving and Storage
Post-harvest soil care and compostable wastes


David Trammel's picture

(I had a chance to take a short week off over the holiday, and have just gotten back. Sorry for the break in discussion.)


One of the things I am considering in the format, is how easy it would make it for someone to go to the eventual hard copy book, and thumb through it, so they can easily identify a unknown plant. That's one of the reasons I want the entries to have alot of pictures if they can. So I see the first major section as a way to do that, with various subsections to further explain.

How about this?


- Common name, followed by Scientific Name, then (any) Alternative Names:

 - Header Photo

- General Description of the Plant:

- Why We Grow This? (common uses):

- Historical Facts and Quotes:

- Can Be Confused With:

- Cautions and Hazards:


Common name is pretty obvious, same with Alternative names. Scientific names are important, since they cross languages. There's a good description about Scientific Naming here:

The Header photo should be of the mature plant. For food plants that have exposed fruit, the picture should show the fruit when its ripe. For flowers, include full blooms. Root and tuber type plants should show their mature plant with a close up of the ripe tuber. Trees and bushes, would need to show the tree trunk for bark type, and perhaps a closeup of the leaf.

General description might be a bit vague to quantify on what we should say. I don't want to get too tied up in particulars, since I think we can cover those later. I suspect we'll get the hang of what we want to include as we work up the number of entries.

I was leaning to putting Historical facts before Why We Grow, but decided that was more important. This would be your subsection about "Uses: Food, Medicine, Dye, Craft Use (which would be Tools and Furniture), etc."

Then Historical facts, because nothing makes a scholar look like a real scholar than being able to quote history, lol.

I was going to put the last two subsections in their own sections but that might get too detailed. First would be any plants that look very similar and can be confused with the main plant, followed by specific cautions and hazards. Is the fruit eatable but the leaves poisonous, wear gloves when harvesting because of thorns,etc.

I think this initial section would give a curious green wizard enough info to pretty confidently identify a plant that was brought to them or they found.


Now the next sections, I absolutely love the way you organized the Cultivation and Harvesting order.


- Popular Variations and Cultivars

- Starting: from seed; from cutting; by rootstock, rhizome, bulb, grafting; other

- Bedding Out: plant spacing, soil temperature, soil amendments, best rotation cycle.

- Best soil type: Loamy, moist; Sandy, well-drained; Mineral-dense, clay

- Sowing Season & Habits: Annual, Perennial, Biennial, self seeding, self pollinating, dioecious

- Plant Health maintenance: diseases, pests, treatments, cold shelters, interventions

- Companion Planting



- Signs of ripeness, over- and under-ripe

- Gathering tips. Gloves, techniques

- Preserving and Storage

- Post-harvest soil care and compostable wastes


I would put Popular Variants, Cultivars, Hybrids and Heirlooms, in its own subsection though, as the start to the Cultivation section. One thing I would like to see in the Replies to the main post of each plant, is a separate post with details on some of the variants of each plant. Like tomatos. One main post on general info, then specific replies for say Cherries, Determinate and Indeterminates and such.

The other change I would make is to give Companion plants its own section, since the list of what is good to plant with, and what isn't can be long. Otherwise I think you did a great job, thanks.


But I do think Cooking and Eating deserves its own section, lol.

Cooking and Eating:

- Nutitional Information:

- How to prepare before eating:

- Useful recipes and cooking hints:

- Historical dishes and meals:

This might be omitted if the plant was a non-eatable plant. What would we put here for say a tree we grew for its good wood?


Then as a final section.


- Green Wizard forum links

- Outside Links

- Helpful Books

- Contributors

I added books because I suspect we are all slowly building up our library. Any book that someone finds really good on growing a particular plant could be included, with perhaps a book review in a reply. I added a line for "Contributors", which will be anyone who posts info about the plant. Eventually these entries will make it into a hopefully print book, and we won't be able to add the discussions or comments we get on the forums.


Thoughts and Opinions anyone?

I have been creating a printable Data Collection Form that people could use for pencil-and-paper data descriptors out in the field when they are not net-connected and then they could enter the data that are missing later on. Also I just sent you an email from my gmail acct (now functioning) about companion plants to add to your growing dataheap!

David Trammel's picture

In the "Introducing "Green Wizards Grimoires"", GW member gkb posted this:


I have started a spreadsheet for weeds with these data column headings.

Alpha Latin    RecNum        Family/Clade    English Name    Latin Name    Alt-Names
Edible Parts    Medicinal      Cautions    Season    Habit    Nutrient-Binding
Soil    LeafType    Flower Info    Other    Family, Latin
Concentrates Heavy Metals?    Compostable?

My question is, are there other topics you would find useful, or are there some in my list that you think can be discarded or consolidated?

I also have a spreadsheet for a 25-bed garden rotation plan. If it would be useful, I can send it to you. I do not know how to upload a spreadsheet file to the resources section. Is it similar to uploading photos? If so, aaack!

Your post looks very clear and easy to read, David - I just wonder about why you might go to such trouble to reproduce the Extension service pages (in essence)... before we get too far into it, let's ask what's the purpose of posting here, on this spot. I had a vague notion that this is a good place for low-tech, non-chemical (because they won't be available eventually), mostly manual (and esp. not covered elsewhere) information. Am I close? There is a need for basic ID to start a page, but I wonder if we'd be better off making a list of links to the details - because if the other sites go down,this one will too, so no extra advantage of pulling it all on here (and it will take massive amounts of time) - plus, in the case of growing things, the details differ wildly around the country (not to mention the world)... maybe you've put the rationale summary in another post and I missed it - if so, sorry, and could you point me to it?

Thanks for continuing to make this and the other GW blog a really good site!

Sorry,David - I did find the post where you list your ideas and rationale for this new section... I still think that reproducing massive detail that is easily available elsewhere isn't a good use of time (though your point about old links is good - however Extension and some others are pretty reliable for plants and animals)... I think it will be good to compile the best hints about the plant/animal, with the caveat that growing seasons/methods do differ a lot with location. So think about where you can save yourself effort and time, when you're pulling this together. We don't want to burn you out!

David Trammel's picture

and in that there is a lot of good advice and helpful hints. By doing a initial post with a common format, and some basic information widely available, I'm hoping from that, I can begin to slowly go back thru the older posts and link what is said in them, to the posts here in the Plant Book.

As has been mentioned before, the search function in this version of Durpal, the forum software sucks. I'm looking to get us newer software soon.

Right now, my free time schedule has kind of flipped. I used to have all weekend free to post here, but since I've begun working on my sister's backyard, Fridays and Saturdays are shot. I do have the morning free now after I get home from work. My hours are down to about 45 or so, which means I'm home much earlier.

And some of my reasoning to do this, is because my garden is really teaching me quite a bit, that I wanted to share.

certainly go for it, if you have the energy. I hope you'll focus on the stuff here (after maybe the briefest basics that you have to look elsewhere for)...I agree the search engine here is substandard, and great stuff is getting lost. I hope this is a way to preserve it, and thank you for even attempting to find a way!