Garden journals are a great way to keep an ongoing record of what’s happening in your garden throughout the year, and from one year to the next! A well-kept journal can guide you in the garden and remind you of goals you set for yourself. You can use it to keep track of what you plant, what amendments and fertilizers you use, what works, and (almost) more importantly, what doesn’t work. Here are a few guidelines to get you started!
What will be the purpose of this journal? Do you want to track bloom times in the garden to identify lapses in color? Would you like a record of the heirloom seed varieties that produce the highest yields? Want to see which organic fertilizers or pest control methods work best for you? Your journal can serve one purpose or many – it’s up to you!
You don’t need anything fancy for your garden journal, a simple notebook will do! If you’re very organized and need more structure, you can create an Excel spreadsheet, or use a small 3-ring binder that can be divided into pertinent sections. A great product to consider is a Rite in the Rain Notebook, which has wax coated pages that can be written on with pencil in the rain! These notebooks are super tough and will stand up to dirty, sweaty hands.
You can divide your journal into sections – by season, by planting bed, by plant type, etc. Whatever makes the most sense to you and will be easy for you to follow – the possibilities are endless!
Make sure you leave plenty of room for notes, or for diagrams or drawings if you are so inclined! Have a couple pocketed folders where you can store important label information or the seed packet of your favorite variety of heirloom tomatoes. Keep track of dates like when something was planted, divided, transplanted, or pruned. Record significant weather events, such as 5 straight days of soaking rain, 2 weeks with no rain, above average temperatures, a late/early frost, etc. Make note of when fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides are applied and note the amounts used.
Make a wish list! If you lost a beloved peony last year, need something tall for the back corner of a planting bed, or think of a brilliant design idea, write it down! Cut out pictures of plants or gardens for inspiration. Take your journal with you whenever you go into the garden and write down your thoughts. Ultimately, you get out what you put in!