Looking for garden information? Trying to identify a plant you have? Need to convert measurements? Learn how to effectively search for gardening information.
Searching online has become a big part of our lives. It’s common to hear people say “just google it”.
As a gardener or homesteader there are many ways to use the popular search engines. Let’s look at several searches that are especially useful.
My examples use Google Search but you can just as well run these searches with other search engines such as Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc.
How To Search For Plant Info
Gardeners are often needing plant info right at their fingertips. Luckily with an internet connection and a browser, you can find plant info very quickly.
Just type in the name into the search box and run a search.
Google even provides nutritional info in a special sidebar for edible plants such as vegetables and fruit.
Here is an example. Type in chard and you get the following:
As you can see you are going to get other search results (and they will be localized – I didn’t know there was a “Chard” development in Victoria) but usually, the plant should be high on the list if not at the top.
You should also get some search results for recipes, very handy if you are not sure what to do with a bountiful harvest!
How to Use Search to Solve a Problem
Let’s say you are struggling with weeds in your garden and wondering if there is a better time to deal with them because every time you try, they are hard to pull out of the ground.
Let’s try “when is the best time to pull weeds”
Cool, I’m ranking number one for this phrase with my article! Sorry, some self-promotion here.
As you can see Google wants to find an answer for you and they rank pages based on how well they answer the question you ask.
And Google is smart enough to know what you mean even if you don’t ask the question the best way.
How to Use Image Search to Identify a Plant
It’s common to come across a plant in your garden where you wonder: what the heck is that!?
If you are a master gardener you might know the common name, botanical or scientific name, and every other piece of info someone might need to know about almost every single plant in your garden.
However for the average gardener, you will need to look up information. A simple text search tends to be the online tool most people will go to.
But easier said than done if you don’t know what to search for in the first place. You could try to describe the plant and see if your search engine can figure out what you are asking for. That is a bit hit and miss in most cases and can waste your time.
However Google has provided a specialized search tool called Google Image Search that is much better than your text description in many situations.
You can access it here: http://images.google.com And this is what you will see:
See the camera icon?
This will allow you to either type in a url of an image you find online (useful if you are looking for other images that are similar) or upload your own photo of that mystery plant to have Google search for a similar image.
So let’s upload a photo of a rose from my garden as an example. This is the result I get:
Not bad. Even gives me the Wikipedia entry on the right side. And I can find more images similar to it.
I have to point out though that this tool is not perfect. I tried some other images from my photo album and found that it had issues with photos where the object you are looking for is not taking up most of the frame.
One image of a flower in a container came up with “Soil” as the result. Yes, the container had lots of soil visible but I wanted it to pick up the flower.
It might help to crop your photo before uploading it so that the plant you are looking for is the main focus. Also pick a part of the plant that is unique. Image Search may not pick up the subtle detail in a leaf to tell you what plant it is. It may succeed better with a closeup of the fruit or flower of the plant.
A useful tool to have on hand even if it doesn’t work in all situations.
How to Use Search for Unit Measurement Conversions
When you read through books or information online you will likely encounter someone writing in either metric or imperial measurements. Some good authors will include both but that tends to be a lot of work for a measurement heavy document. So sometimes you will need to convert unit measurements to what you are more familiar with or to match the measuring tools you are using.
If you have access to Google Search in a web browser, you also have access to a powerful conversion tool. Here are some examples of how you can use it.
Probably temperature is the most often used measurement for gardening. To convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit just put the temperature with the unit of measurement you need converted into the Google Search box and hit return or click on the magnifying glass:
Or let’s say you need to find out the weight of your enormous pumpkin you grew this fall! Just type in:
Note that if you leave off the “to pounds” it will simply convert into grams, which is maybe not what you want.
Or let’s say you are mixing water-soluble fertilizer and need to convert liquid measurements (again include the unit you are converting to):
Or let’s say you find a great plan online for building something out of wood for your garden. But it is a European designer and all measurements are in metric. Your lumberyard only sells 2×4’s in increments of feet. Just type in what you need to convert:
And now you know that you need an 8 foot long 2×4 cut down to length.
There are many other conversions you can do and if you are not sure what you can convert, you can also just pull down the drop-down menus beside the fields in the converter to choose what you are converting.
So as you can see, search engines are very useful tools for all of your gardening needs! It won’t help you weed or water your plants for you!
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC