The How to Grow It Project

There are an awful lot of plants that gardeners want to grow and while there are many traditional paper references and new online references that cover how to grow the fairly common plants these descriptions are never complete nor do they cover many of the less common plants. Gardeners with problems quite often post their questions in rec.gardens and hope for a reply.

But with the growth of the Internet and WWW it has now become possible for everyone who has experience with a given plant to publish their experience on the WWW and let the web searchers like Infoseek and Hotbot collect the pages. People who want to know how to grow a given plant can then consult these search engines and quite possibly get an immediate answer to their problem. This can be made especially easy if the how to grow it information pages use artificial keywords like "howtogrow" or "seedsfrom" or "pictureof" as well as other artificial and real words. In effect the internet can host what will become the world's largest plant reference encyclopedia.

For instance, suppose you've had experience growing some plant like a Texas bluebonnet in an unusual area of the country, like, say, Chicago where they do not grow normally. You can write up a web page that starts out like:

keywords: howtogrow Texas Bluebonnet, alias lupinus texensis,

location: Chicago, Illinois, Zone5

After a web searcher finds and catalogs your page (kind of iffy it seems, sigh) other people can go to a web searcher and give it words to search for such as:

howtogrow lupinus texensis

or if you don't know the scientific name use:

howtogrow texas bluebonnet

There are some other obvious artificial keywords that will be useful:


The keyword "pictureof" lets people know you have a picture of the plant available. In many cases the pictures you find in seed catalogs are poor or are even missing. Show everyone what you've grown!


The keyword "seedsforsale" indicates you are willing to sell seeds to people. This would be mostly for seed companies and it makes it easy to find a source for the particular seed you want (use one web file for each plant you've written up). Personally I'm generally happy to order seeds through a regular company but for some hard to find seeds it would be a kindness if you could sell some seeds to other people.


Alas, at this point in time most seed companies are not on the net. If you list your source for the seeds use this keyword so people searching for a source for the seeds can find your page quickly.


Seed trading is very popular so if you've got seed to spare and would rather trade than sell include this keyword.


Again, mostly for commercial pages.


Tell us where you got your plants so we can get them from there too.


The keyword "diseasesof" should be included in pages that describe the possible diseases of the plant that you've run into. Good quality pictures of the diseased plant would be helpful.


Indicates you have a cure for the plant disease.


The keyword "howtostop" should be included in pages that have cures for insects that damage the plant. Again, pictures of the insects would be very helpful.


Some other artificial keywords may be useful, perhaps "houseplant" or "prairieplant" and maybe others I haven't thought of yet. The most anyone has to do with this project (and I'd be happy to do it) is to keep an official list of the keywords.

Something else that may happen is that gardeners with an interest in a particular type of plant (say poppies, or lupines or sunflowers) could search the web for all such pages and put together a summary of all the known facts about the plant. Anyone who does this should give credit to the original author(s) for their help and include links to the original pages (as is done in scientific papers). Original authors should probably put a copyright notice on your html file but certainly on any photos you use. I guess to make it easy to find summaries we need another keyword, maybe "summaryof". So then if you're looking for a summary of Texas bluebonnet knowledge give this to the search engine:

howtogrow lupinus texensis summaryof

If you have any questions or comments, write me.

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