It’s not too late to start this year’s garden journal!
As I sat down to write this post, I dug through my records and pulled out my garden from 2005. I flipped through the journal and was met with vividly detailed pages that document the year my daughter and I kept a nature journal for the first time. She was homeschooled that year, and the pages reflected all the neat adventures and experiences we had that growing season. This sweet memento was not only a treasure to flip through years after, but it brought back memories of things I had forgotten when we were putting our garden together. If you have ever wondered or thought about putting a journal together, then you’re at the right place. There is no better time to start on your first garden journal than today! Let’s go over some tips and tricks that will help you along the way when you do start keeping track of your garden.
How to keep a garden journal
Getting started on a garden journal is a lot simpler than you might think. You first need to start off by finding the right journal. For technologically savvy gardeners or people who love the cloud, and an electronic journal is one way to go. However, some of the best garden journals are the tangible kind.
My personal preference is a physical book. I find that when I write in a physical book, I have the ability to really connect with that moment in time. The faded writing of my scribbled notes and my occasional soil fingerprint stains tell more than my notes do sometimes. If you want to use a physical book, you can buy one that suits your likings. You can even create your own if you prefer to as well. There are several good online garden journals to try too. These garden journals are designed specifically to have the notes about your garden endeavors organized.
Why keep a garden journal
Keeping a garden journal really is an important part of the gardening process. You will be surprised how much you forget about the details at the beginning of the season.
Instead of trying to remember the recipe for that new garden pest technique you tried or that great heirloom tomato you decided to grow, write it down in your garden journal. Keeping a garden journal will allow you to keep track of all the amazing things you have done throughout the year. Way too often, we think that we have perfected a recipe only to forget it years or even a seasons later! When you keep a garden journal, you truly eliminate that problem entirely.
Not convinced on keeping one yet? Read on to see our top reasons for why you should keep a garden journal this season.
Here are 10 reasons to keep a garden journal
- You can keep notes on new plants you’ve never grown before. Organize this information by making a page for each new plant. Get detailed by listing the plant species and any specific information from the plant tag. Doing so will help you in the future if you decide to continue growing that plant. Go online and research any additional things you need to know to be successful in growing it as well.
- Have a page just for first and last frost dates in YOUR yard. Even though you can find the average first and last frost dates for your area, your particular yard has its own microclimate. Even parts of your yard will have their own microclimate. This will be super helpful in your future gardening endeavors because you will know when the best times to plant will be. Keeping track of the dates is also pretty neat because you can check out averages and trends that have gone on over the years.
- Speaking of dates, a garden journal is a great place to keep important garden milestones. Keeping dates will help you keep track of important procedures in your garden. Such things include when the garden soil was dry enough to do a first tilling or when you were actually able to plant the garden. By recording these dates, you will notice patterns that will help you keep track of future gardening.
- Make notes of weather patterns. Keeping track of the weather will allow you to recall whether a season was exceptionally wet or dry. This information can be vital in recognizing what type of plants to plant or if you should change your gardening plan altogether.
- Keep detailed planting notes and crop rotation schedules for all your vegetable beds. This is a logistical technique that will help you keep track of how your garden operates best.
- Are there any new techniques you want to try? Keep a page for all the new ideas you run across while you are doing garden research. These might include greenhouse gardening, lasagna gardening or natural pest control methods. It could also be a reminder about a specific pin that you want to go back and look at.
- Keep notes about the specific seeds that you’ve planted. When did you start those heirloom tomatoes? What kind of lighting did they require for optimum growing? When were they ready to go out in the garden? Did you start them too early or too late? It is also not a bad idea to keep track of where you purchased those seeds and how much they cost.
- Keep notes about your container gardening exploits. List the type of plant and the container you chose for it. How did it do? Were there specific watering requirements.
- Keep a fertilizing schedule for individual plant groupings and vegetable beds, then keep track of the results and when you need to schedule the next fertilizing date.
- One of the most important benefits of a garden journal is that fact that you will be able to learn from it. One of the best ways to do this is by keeping track of your failures. Did you try a new technique that was a disaster? maybe you planted in the wrong place or added too much fertilizer? Whatever the failure was, be sure to list it. A garden journal is the best place to put the lessons you’ve learned each year.
All gardening experiences, good and bad, are for our benefit!
It’s fun to look back at this snapshot of my life from nine gardening seasons ago. It takes me back to the past of all my gardening successes and failures. While I am still learning and experimenting in my gardening adventures, my garden journal helps guide me in being the best gardener I can be.
Shared with: Wordless Wednesday – Homestead Barn Hop – Clever Chicks Hop –
A friend of mine uses Shutterfly to put a whole book together with pictures and notes. She uses it for her entire 50 acre homestead. She includes animal info, (breeding/birthing/butchering dates along with any complications, feed rations, recipes, and weight gain. Illnesses and all kinds of other stuff) weather info, (inches of rainfall, days of sunshine, dates of significant storms and damage done + pics, frost dates etc.) gardening info (pretty much the same stuff that you wrote about plus harvest totals and such) and general household stuff (how much firewood they went through, where they cut the firewood, notes on how much canned food they used and if they ran out of anything), she even puts how much they spend each month on electricity and other utilities! It’s SERIOUSLY all inclusive and BEAUTIFUL! She has them on her bookshelf by year and it’s a joy to pick up one of these books with beautiful and informative pictures and look through the last 8 years of her life! I’m sure there’s got to be an app somewhere that lets you do the same thing, but there’s something about holding a book…
What a fabulous idea Elizabeth, I agree that there’s something about holding a book. I think you get more of the “wonder” of the growing cycle. I’ve not heard of Shutterfly until now, it seems that it’s similar to Blurb and I think I’m going to give it a try.
Kim Smith says
This is a good article or post and I am always telling myself to start a garden journal but I never do. I guess my own blog is now a sort of a journal for me. BTW, you have a nice site.
Thanks Kim, My website serves as a journal of sorts too! Love those planters on your page. Do you think they would work with vegetables too?
Nice post. My garden journals have evolved over the years. I started with writing information on a calendar and progressed to writing notes in a journal book. For the last few years, I kept records of what I ordered (including the packet and receipts) and a diagram of garden layout. Last year I tracked seed starting dates & germination dates.
This year I will actually use a planting calendar to include varieties directly sowed. I take some pictures. I found I started out great, but full time work outside the home prevented me from keeping it up. Now that I am retired, I am enjoying the process of planning and the prospect of timely planting rather than the marathon Memorial Day weekend. I use excel to plan seed purchases. I use graph paper to track day to day observations and actions/tasks.
All of this goes into a 3 ring binders, one for the current year. Past years are retired to another binder. I like the idea of adding photos in.