Horticultural headache

Expect frustration from this confusing garden software.

We take a pretty laid-back approach to gardening; when spring rolls around we put some plants in the ground, may or may not remember to water them, and then let nature take its course. My Garden Bytes is not a program that is meant for the likes of us. This complex database lets serious gardeners track every aspect of their horticultural endeavors, including plant growth, water, fertilizer, soil, light, and humidity. Unfortunately, we found using the program too frustrating to recommend it very highly, even for those who wish to keep such detailed records.

The program's interface is somewhat confusing, and we never really felt like we got a handle on exactly how to use it. You can create lists of gardens and plants, as well as journals for tracking daily or weekly progress. We found the process of creating new entries in any of these to be unintuitive and confusing. Some features just didn't seem to work; we clicked repeatedly on the Add Photo button in the journal interface but nothing happened. There doesn't seem to be any way to cross-reference the data in the various lists; as far as we could tell, there was no way to look at the entry for a particular garden and select the plants that are in it. There is a whole lot of room for detail in My Garden Bytes, especially for users who are breeding plants and carefully tracking their fertilizer use, but the program's comprehensive nature doesn't make up for how difficult it is to use. There's no real Help file, either, which compounds the problem. Most gardeners would likely be better off with another program--or just a notebook and a pen.

My Garden Bytes comes as a ZIP file and requires the installation of the .NET Framework if you don't already have it. It installs a desktop icon without asking but uninstalls cleanly.

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