The Benefits of Keeping a Garden Journal

Every gardener knows each year's garden is not like the last. Sometimes it's incredibly better and sometimes - not so much. But it's always different. It seems as if you and your garden are on a journey. So why not record the adventure? Not only does journaling give you information on what you've done each season so you don't have to try and remember what you planted when and how much, it's like a diary that tells your story. It also gives you something to look at other than seed catalogs during the long winter months. So what should go in your journal? Anything you want. Start off with pencil sketching a diagram of what you're planting this season. Then next year you can refer back to your sketch and change things around so you don't plant the same things in the same spots. Rotation planting is good for your soil. However you want to do it, spreadsheet or otherwise, record what you've planted, seedlings or seeds, how many, the date, where you planted them, etc. I like to make my journal more visual and I'll add things like: • snapshots of the beginning, middle and end of each season as a timeline. • empty seed packets that I tape on the pages. • pressed leaves. • my very amateurish sketches of whatever moves me to sketch it in the garden. Other things to add are tips you've heard and want to remember. Or tips you've figured out all by yourself. If you find an especially helpful blog, write down the website name here. You can also tear out and include magazine articles that speak to you. At the end of the season, it's time to sum it all up. How was your yield? Did one vegetable do really well and another one bomb? Record that. For example - The such-and-such shelling beans produced very small beans and they were hard to shell. Plant a different kind next year. Also explain any weather issues (and there are always some or a lot) that messed with your garden. It's nice to record the first and last freeze of the year so you can compare it to future years. It will also give you an idea of when to pick the last of your ripe veggies and when to bring in the green tomatoes. It's time to tell what went right and what didn't. What should you have done differently? There are always things we want to do differently next year! Don't trust your memory, write them down. Gardening is a journey, and journaling about that journey is very rewarding. Who knows, someday your grandkids might read it and feel inspired to begin their own gardening voyage. Keeping track of what's what is also a good way to learn from your experiences and to continue to improve your garden each year.


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