My garden journals of the past have been limited to yearly charts of where I plant and general lists of what I ordered. This is partly because I have been gardening by the seat of my pants while raising seven children, and partly because I was looking for a system that facilitated both easy recording and easy reference. After years of tweaking personal record keeping for everything from the home based education for the kids (k-12) to stock market ventures, I think I have some workable ideas to implement that will enhance my gardening efforts.
A regular loose leaf notebook with alphabetical dividers is a record keeper’s best friend.
- It gives the flexibility of being able to add or take out pages or re-arrange contents when needed.
- It also means a page or two can be taken out for a trip to the garden store. I recommend putting records in ziplock bags or sheet protectors when taking them out and about.
- When the notebook gets full, it will be easy to mark what years it covers and start a new one, like a bank register.
Although I can’t think of any vegetables or flowers that begin with the letters Q or X, I still like my notebook divider tabs to use the whole alphabet. Move the Q to a different part for a questions section or have the X stand for weed identification/extermination. I keep my seed packets alphabetically, with index cards placed as tabs, and find this works well. In my journal notebook, I will probably have 2 sets of tabs: one for vegetables and one for flowers.
One other separate section in the beginning will have places for:
- Lists of what I ordered each year.
- Garden charts from the previous four years.
- Lists of stores or seed sources with what I particularly like about each business. Too many times I find myself wishing I could remember a certain detail.
Each plant will get a new page for each year. On the individual pages for each type of plant, I want to remember things like:
- Exact varieties and where I purchased them (photos available on computer?)
- When I planted (early in greenhouse? direct seeding?)
- When they germinated
- When the harvest began
- What watering I used
- What diseased or insects there were
- Specifics about the harvest
A last section will have a list of where various bulbs and perennials are planted in my yard. Again, I might just keep the photos on file on my computer instead of trying to print them all. But I frequently want to plant some of my vegetables in with my landscaping, and don’t want to accidentally dig up or plant over anything. Also, I share a lot of things from my garden and it would be nice to be able to show people pictures of the plants in different stages of their life cycles, including flower color.
This time of year, late summer to early fall, actually seems like a good time to get my sensible garden journal going. I don’t remember everything from earlier this year, but I am noticing things that I want to keep track of. I’m sure the system will evolve along the way. Like applying good exercise habits. It’s always a good time to start a little self-discipline and reap the benefits.