Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Come join the wiki group (and earn some badges)!

Hi all – I’m currently kick-starting some winter wiki projects over in the Wiki group , so if you feel you might like to participate, come and join in!

There is no obligation, you can do as much or as little as you like. You definitely don’t have to be an plant expert to take part – if you know how to google and find information from various sources that’s pretty much all it takes!

As a bonus, if you haven’t already earned your wiki badges (Contributor , Editor and Curator ) , then it’s also an excellent chance to get a start on these!

First project is Vitis – I’ve made a start on this, but still plenty left to do :)

Suggestions for next projects for the wiki are also most welcome!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Our first official Bloom Day is this Wednesday!

Inspired by Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (started I believe by the creator of the May Dreams Gardens blog a couple of years ago ) we thought we would create a badge to honour those bloggers on Folia that are also participating in this wonderful gardeners online event each month!

To participate and earn your December Bloom Day badge, simply log a Bloom event on the 15th of December (that’s this Wednesday – mark your calendars!).

Although this one might be a bit of a challenge for those in the northern hemisphere as it’s now getting pretty wintery , those on the opposite end of the world have a great chance to get this badge and show the rest of us what’s currently blooming! We’ll feature some of the best blooms throughout the day on the site, on our facebook page and on Twitter

More details over on our Badge group post (while you’re there, consider joining our group if you want to hear the latest on new Folia badges!)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Folia Faire 2010 - The Winners!

Over the past week, Nath and I have been busy tallying results for the Folia Faire, and have managed to whittle away the nominations to a final set of winners.

Without further ado here are the results of the Folia Faire 2010 !

Congratulations to all awardees – you’ll be receiving your official Folia Faire Awardee badges very soon!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Woohoo! It's Folia Faire time again!

It’s that time of the year again! Like any good village faire, we’re holding a friendly contest to find the biggest, best and most beautiful plants and gardens on Folia.

To remind you of all the fun we had last year, here were the winners for 2009.

This year we are going to change the way that the nomination and vote process works a little bit – you’ll find a nomination form here that you can fill out to nominate your favourite for each category. Voting is anonymous – if you want to add reasons why you nominated each one, feel free! We’ll compile the best comments and display on the final award results page.

You can fill out as many as you like, and you can nominate yourself if you want. Try to include links where possible as it will make it easier for us to tally and to award the winners. The only rule is: the nominee needs be a member of Folia, and the journal, plant or garden needs to be posted on Folia to be eligible.

Let the Faire begin! Voting will be open from 14 Nov – 30 Nov 2010

Folia Village Faire Nomination Form 2010

Along with the main nominated categories, as part of the Faire you’ll notice that we’ll be releasing a ton of interesting new awards and badges over the coming weeks (so far, this weekend we have just released the Old Growth badge, the First Sprout badge and the First Bloom badge, with plenty more on the way) For more info on what badges have already been released, hints on new badges and to make suggestions for new ones we should consider join our new Folia Badges group!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

What are My Frost Dates? instant search (BETA)

New this week is another (beta) search page for finding your frost dates:

What Are My Frost Dates?

The idea is that this will be a standalone tool (exactly the same as the new What’s My Zone search page) – it should work worldwide as it is based on everyone’s Folian Frost Date observations. For the same reason, it can be a little less accurate as we are dealing with real data so we need your help to make it as good as it can be:

Check that you currently have the most accurate Frost Dates listed in your Gardener configuration settings

To make sure at the start that we are using the most accurate data available, instead of using the search to check your Frost Dates, try and validate your dates with an outside source if you can. Frost dates can be quite difficult to find, so it would be great if anyone finds some good sources that they could list them in this thread for others to use.

I’ll start with a few that I have found in my travels around the net: (US) (US, UK and Australia)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

"What's My USDA Zone?" Instant Search

Hi all – this week, we’ve also rolled out a new (beta) search page for finding your zone:

What’s My USDA Zone?

The idea is that this will be a standalone tool that anyone can use to check what zone they are in – it works worldwide as it is based on everyone’s Folian Zone observations. For the same reason, it can be a little less accurate as we are dealing with real data so we need your help to make it as good as it can be:

Check that you currently have the most accurate Zone listed in your Gardener profile, and each of your Gardens.

Make sure you are using the USDA Zone scale, not Sunset / Aussie etc. as different scales will effect the accuracy of the search.

To make the conversion easier, we have also developed a new Aussie to USDA Zone converter to easily check what your USDA zone is (if you don’t know your Aussie zone, check this site first).

Sunset to USDA is a bit trickier as Sunset is much more granular than USDA, so several Sunset Zones can be the same USDA Zone. We’re still working on a converter for this, but in the meantime you can find a basic converter here (if anyone can find any others, let us know!)

The wikipedia entry on Hardiness Zones is also a good reference point to use.

Why does Folia use the USDA Zone system?
We are using the USDA zone system as our standard reference point as it is the most widespread and recognizable climate zone system. We know it has a limited practical application in places where frost dates are rare or non existent, but the main benefit of the system is to group gardeners together that are in similar climatic conditions – so it’s a useful system for Folia to use (until a better system comes along!).

Anyway, let us know what you think about the new What’s my Zone? page !

New Garden Harvest Tally Reports

Quick note about a new feature for our lovely Supporters – from today, you’ll now see a “Harvest Tally” tab on your Garden profile pages.

This is a brand new page that summarises all of your harvest logs for every year of your garden. Instead of basing this on the traditional Jan – Dec calendar year, the year is based on whatever date you choose your gardening year to start at – you can configure this date over on your Account Configuration page.

The page is also nicely printable (only prints the tally, not the rest of the page), and also is exportable for import to your favourite spreadsheet program. You’ll find both of these options over on the right hand side of the page.

How far you can go back in your harvest history is also configurable – it’s based on your garden’s Established Year – to change, edit your garden and you’ll find a box to modify (under the Location details).

To see an example, check out my Rooftop Terrace Garden Harvest Tally from last year (I can already see that this year hasn’t been nearly as productive as last!), cristina’s Herb’s and vegetable garden or flowerweaver’s Vegetable garden (both have weights AND amounts recorded and are much more diligently entered than my own records!)

This feature is exclusively available to our Supporters. Supporters help us keep the site up-and-running and allow us to spend time working on funky new features like this one. Check out your Account Upgrade page for details on how you can become a Folia Supporter.

Let us know what you think! If you have any suggestions or issues with using this feature, please log it over in our new Support / Feedback area so we can track it through for you :)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

New badges: Wiki Contributor / Editor / Curator

Just before our trip back to Australia, we released a couple of new badges to the site to reward Folians that contribute to our plant / variety wiki.

The new badges are:

Wiki Contributor – Awarded to Folians that have contributed at least once to the plant wiki.
Wiki Editor – Awarded to Folians that have made a significant contribution to the Plant Wiki.
Wiki Curator – Awarded to Folians that have made an extraordinary contribution to the Folia Plant Wiki.

These awards will be instantly awarded when you contribute to the wiki the required number of times (we’re not going to disclose the exact number of edits you need for the Editor and Curator badges – they are definitely achievable though)

This time, we haven’t back awarded these badges to Folians who have already earned these – instead they will be calculated and awarded next time you edit the wiki – so go add something to the wiki and see what happens!

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Folia Mobile App is an Apple Staff Pick today

We submitted the Folia Mobile Web app to the Apple directory early this week, and woke up this morning to find that they have featured us as a staff pick! Yay!

Here’s the link to the actual directory page if you want to take a look:

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Weekly Garden Planner Email Improvements

We’ve added a couple of new things to the newsletter – here’s a quick rundown of what to look out for when it hits your inbox today:

  • Local Gardening Group logic has been tweaked and we are showing more than your closest one. If you are in the UK or Aust. you’ll now also see your country group.
  • Discussions This Week now show only topics from the groups you are a member of – so if you want a bit more variety than the Chit Chat group, get out there and join some more groups !
  • Recommended gardeners to follow now filters out the people you are already following, so keep checking the list every month to find more interesting Folians near you.
  • Plant Match Maker – this is a brand new beta section that we are trialling, it will sort through your Wish List and find matching items that people have marked as available to swap, and will also try and find you some matches from our retailer plant catalogue lists (* sales made through the product catalogue links give Folia a small income, so definitely consider having a look at some of these if you can!)
  • The Planting Planner (Sow, Transplant, Harvest) now shows 10 suggestions instead of the entire list (for people with huge seed stash lists this section was huge!). Instead, we are linking to a new filter on your Seed Stash page that will show you everything in your seed stash for the event and month of your choosing. Confused? It’s probably easier to explain with an example: check out my List of Stash items available to Sow in June
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing some of you from receiving your weekly dose of Folia goodness. Hopefully everyone is getting their emails through now, but if you aren’t – firstly check your Junk / Spam folders. If it isn’t there, let us know and we’ll look into it for you.

Hope you like the improvements!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Folia (and also earn a badge)!

Hi all – we’ve just rolled out a brand new release of goodies to the site today, the biggest change being Facebook and Twitter integration!

Via the new Account page in your profile , you can now connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts directly to Folia. Everytime you post a new planting, milestone or journal you can choose if you wish to also post a message to either account. You don’t have to post all the time – just unselect the checkbox for either or all and your post will not be sent to either party.

As a little bonus, if you connect your accounts you’ll also get some awesome little “Connected!” badges on your profile :)

How do I connect my Twitter account with Folia?

  1. Go to your new Account page in your profile
  2. Click the “Sign-in with Twitter” light blue button and a window on twitter should appear asking you to authorize us. Remember that we will never post to your stream unless you ask us to.
  3. Click the “Allow” option and you’ll be taken back to your account page – your twitter account details should now be displaying if everything went tickety-boo.

How do I connect my Facebook account with Folia?

  1. Go to your new Account page in your profile
  2. Click the “Sign-in with Facebook” dark blue button and a window on facebook should appear asking you to authorize us (if you aren’t signed in, it will display a sign-in box first). Facebook will request a couple of “advanced privileges” (as they call them) which basically authorizes Folia to post to your stream. Remember that we will never post to your stream unless you ask us to.
  3. Click the “Allow” option and you’ll be taken back to your account page – your facebook account details should now be displaying if everything went tickety-boo.

As this is a huuuge change, we need your help in testing this feature – so connect your accounts, get posting and let us know if there are any problems in the Bugs & Issues group . Thanks!

Update: Forgot to also add that you can also use your Facebook profile pic on Folia if you want as well – after you connect your Facebook account, go to your Photos page and you should see your profile pic appear in the list of suggestions.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Folia Street Team relaunch - come join and help spread the word!

I’m really eager to get the Folia Street Team going again, as it’s been a little neglected of late. I’ve just given the group a lick of paint with a brand new logo and banner, so join the group if you are interested in helping us to find ways to spread the word about the site now that the gardening season is in full swing!

Folia Street Team – A Grassroots Campaign

p.s. I might even be creating special limited edition Street Team badges for everyone who joins! ;)

Friday, 11 June 2010

Want to create a logo for your group?

You may have noticed that the Groups page is now looking a little more colourful and a lot more interesting – we’ve been busy adding logos and banners for the most popular groups.

We’d love to add more group images, so if you are the caretaker of a group and would like to create a logo and banner for your group, download your templates here…

…and send them to with the name of your group and we’ll upload them for you asap.

If you aren’t the caretaker of your group but you are interested in helping out, contact the caretaker to ask them if they are okay with you creating the images on their behalf and go for it!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

New Blog Widget : Latest in my Seed Stash

We've just released a new little blog widget to the site - this one shows the latest additions to your seed stash. You'll find the code to install over on the Goodies page.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Supporter Beta: The Folia Mobile App v0.1!

We’ve just released the very first version of the Folia mobile app (YaY!), and we need help to test and improve it. So, get your smartphones at the ready and point your Safari browsers at:

What do we currently have in version 0.1?

  • Planting Lists – see everything in your planted lists
  • Plant Wiki – search for plants and view the wiki (you can also add new plantings from here)
  • Add Milestone Events

The mobile app is currently in Supporter Beta – if you aren’t yet a Supporter, please consider becoming one as it helps us with hosting costs and allows us to make cool features like this one!

If you have an idea on how to make the mobile app better – let us know in the Suggestions & Feedback group.

If you’ve found a bug, or something isn’t working as you think it should – let us know in the Bugs & Issues group . If you could let us know what sort of device (iPhone, Android, iPad etc.) you are using, that would be great!

Monday, 31 May 2010

New! Quick Add Plantings & Milestones Box

Hi all – everyone will now see the new yellow Quick Add box on their gardener homepages. Supporters have been testing the Quick Add milestone feature out for us for the last couple of weeks, and now we think it’s ready for everyone to use.

This box lets you quickly enter events for your existing plantings, add photos and other bits and pieces. If you havent yet created the planting yet, no problems – you can now switch instantly into Add New Planting mode on the same box! Click on the “Add new planting” link in the yellow headline area to switch views.

As this is a fairly complex feature, we’d love everyone’s help to get it tested – we’ll be testing and hot-fixing all day, so if you notice anything strange, log it in the Bugs & Issues group and we’ll get it fixed asap.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for improvements, let us know in the Suggestions & Feedback group!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Quick Add Garden Milestones: "What's happening in your garden?"

We released a new feature this morning – you’ll now find a new yellow box on your gardener dashboards called “What’s happening in your garden?”

This box lets you quickly add planting events without creating journal entries – perfect for when you want to quickly log events about your plantings but don’t have much to say about them. You can add notes, harvest quantities and all the usual bits and pieces that you can do from the existing journal page too.

As a bonus, we’ve also added a definition for each event – so you’ll never get your “flowering” mixed up with your “blooming” again! (A big thanks to our fab Folia Helpers for writing these event definitions for us!)

Below the Quick Add is a list of the most recent milestones that you’ve logged in your garden – and if you are feeling the urge to peek over the garden fence, you can also expand out to show latest milestones from gardeners you follow (network) and everyone on folia.

This is currently a Supporter Beta Feature – free account holders will not currently see this feature. If you are a Supporter, it would be fantastic if you can give us a hand to test this feature – if you find a bug, please log it in the Bugs & Issues group and we’ll get it fixed up asap!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Folia API Starts Now!

At the core of the the brand spanking new widgets is the start of our Folia API.

For those who I’ve lost already, an API is a set of rules that allow software to send and receive data from other software (like Folia). The API will allow us (or you) to build iPhone Apps, Android Apps, Flash/AIR Apps, Desktop Apps, gosh just about any type of software that can talk to Folia via the Internet.

The first set of APIs we’re opening up are public ones relating to Gardener Mini-Profile, Latest Plantings and Latest Stash. We’ve built two blog widgets that utilise the Gardener and Latest Planting APIs and we’ve released the source code on googlecode so you can grab it, pull it apart and build other things with it. We’re hoping that we have some cleaver Folians that can make Wordpress plugins or embed these into Facebook in some way – which would be totally cool!

So with the first step done we can test the structure and load ready for the next step – the full blown authenticated API.

We’ll be working on releasing bits and pieces as we go – so the best place to keep up to date with this is by joining the Folia Developers group. Even if you’re just interested in the blog widgets then also feel free to join – we want to add to these as well to make them super useful. I’m sure there are a few other datasets that people would like to be made available and built for them.

So if you’re a HTML/CSS/JS ninja, an ObjectiveC or Java rockstar, or a Flash-meister then join the Folia Developers group, tell us what you know, what you need and what you want to build!

New Folia Gardening Widgets now Available!

Hi all – this weekend, we released some brand new Folia widgets !

There are currently two to choose from:

Folia Badge: Shows your profile pic and your current planting / stash counts.

Folia Latest Plantings: Shows your badge + your 5 most recent plantings.

For anyone using the old Clearspring widgets: the new widgets completely replace the old ones, so if you still have them installed you’ll see a message letting you know about the change and what to do. The reason why we have removed the old ones completely is that Clearspring recently sold up and have shut down support for their widget creation tool, so we cannot support them any longer. It was a good motivation to start looking into developing our own – we think they look much better than the old ones, and we’ll be able to develop them much further in the future.

The installation steps are now a whole lot easier too (so no more weird multi-step help pages for our widgets – yay!):

  1. Go to the widgets page
  2. Copy the code under the “To install this widget” heading (it should already be personalised to your gardener name)
  3. Paste this code into your html editor tool of choice.

The way we have developed these widgets means that if you know a bit of css, you can customise your widget in anyway you want – you can override the styles on your own page, or you could download the js file, host it yourself and switch the stylesheet reference over. We’re cool with whatever you’d like to do with these widgets – and we’d love to see what you come up with!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Newsletter enhancements: Your neighbours and local folia groups

Hi all – we made a couple of little enhancements to the newsletters for this week: you’ll now find a new section called “In Your Local Area”.

This section will now show you:

  • What is currently sprouting, transplanting and being harvested in your region
  • Recommended gardeners near you that you might like to follow
  • New gardeners in your area that you might like to follow and welcome to the site
  • Your nearest local folia gardening groups that you might like to join

Hopefully this should encourage a bit of neighbourly folian following!

Let us know what you think!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New Seed Swapper Badges!

Some of you may of noticed a couple of new badges appearing on gardener profiles at the beginning of the week – this was the first little step in rolling out the first of our badges for seed swapping.

Basically, this means that if anyone completes a registered swap on Folia this will count towards the following badges:

All historical swaps before now have been calculated and badges awarded. From here, you’ll instantly be awarded the badge once you have reached the threshold and this achievement will be listed in your activity and your follower’s activity. You’ll also get a nice little email just in case you’ve missed all that other action ;)

Along with this, you’ll now notice that all of your existing badges on your dashboard and profile pages are now hooked up to badge pages explaining how they were earned, and who else has also achieved the same badge.

Furthermore, we now have a nice little leaderboard of seed swappers for 2010 and for all time to encourage a little bit of friendly competition :) I think we have ourselves a challenge: let’s get swapping!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

New: Plant Planting Schedules (For both hemispheres!)

Hi all - we've been doing a bit of number crunching at Folia HQ this week, and have released a new little feature on the plant pages to let you see what we are working on.

If you take a wander over to one of the more popular plants (Tomato is always a good example) you'll now see two timelines appear - one for the southern hemisphere, and one for the northern. Basically, we've now got a calculation that runs every week that tallies up all of your journal observations (sow, transplant and harvest), finds the most common months for each, and then splits this tally based on which hemisphere the observation was made in.

We are currently only doing this calculation for plants with over 20 observations per event to make sure that the end result is as accurate as it can be - so this timeline will only currently appear on the most popular plants (which is around 300 or so different species). Hopefully, as more observations are logged we'll have more plants displaying calculated timelines - so remember to log as much and as accurately as you can!

Next step is to look at rolling this down to your plantings - so when you add a new planting or stash item and classify it, we'll be able to calculate a starting schedule for you. Eventually, the plan is to keep segmenting the data and give you a more accurate, more localised version of this schedule (exciting stuff!)

As usual, let us know what you think and how we can make it better!

Friday, 15 January 2010

New Feature: Yearly Seed Planning Schedules

The major new feature in today’s release is the Seed Planning Schedule that you’ll now find appearing on your Seed Stash pages – this feature should hopefully make planning when to plant and when to harvest a whole lot easier!

I’ve been working on updating my list today – so take a look at my Seed Stash for a bit of an example of how it works:

Nic’s Seed Stash page

Nic’s Broad Bean ‘Bunyards Exhibition’

How does it work?
Over on your Stash List, you’ll now see a little row of grey boxes under each of your stash items – this is your individual schedule that you can edit to list the sowing, transplanting and harvest / blooming months. To edit, go to your Stash Edit page and scroll down a bit until you see the Planting Schedule section. Check the boxes of the months for each one, then Save your Stash Item and it should magically appear on your schedule bar.

This is a Supporter feature (non Supporters will be able to see the schedule bars to get a feel for how they work but don’t have the ability to edit). Supporters keep Folia going by helping to pay for our server hosting costs: for more information about Supporter Features take a wander over to your Upgrade Account page.

Handy dandy links

  • If you need some help with getting started with this feature: Help!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Happy new year - and a engine upgrade for folia!

Hi all – a very happy new year to everyone, here’s hoping that this gardening year is even bigger and better than the last!

Nath and I have been busy working on a major behind the scenes update to the underlying technology running the site, which we finally released today. This means you should experience a speedier, more efficient site from now on, and it also means that we have a much more powerful set of tools to develop future functionality.

This being quite a massive change, the biggest part of this job involved a lot of testing and retesting. We think we’ve covered hopefully everything on the site, but it would be great if everyone could keep their eyes peeled for anything that looks or acts a bit strange and let us know in the Bugs & Issues group. We’re on bug fixing duty for the rest of the week, so hopefully with everyone’s help we’ll get any bumpiness ironed out pretty promptly.

For anyone interested in the techie explanation: We’ve updated to Rails version 2.3.5 (we were previously on 2.1.1, which was as old as the hills in tech years!) and upgraded a whole heap of gems that are in common use on folia. The biggest driver for this change was that we needed the oAuth integration mechanisms so that we could start work on developing login and other functionality using FB and other oAuth providers like gmail, yahoo! and twitter. It also paves the way for bigger plans such as mobile versions of the site.

We’ve also got a couple of new features that we managed to include in this major release that we’ll be announcing soon (or as usual, someone will find it and announce for us in the meantime!)

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