If you have a garden, big, small or even just one raised bed, you need a garden journal. This must have tool for your garden that will help you year after year. Keeping records, notes, lists of successes and failures will help you to learn about your garden. There are a lot of ways to keep a garden journal, but I want to share how I keep my journal. Keep reading about how to start a garden journal.
What do I use for a garden journal?
I use a simple spiral notebook with lined pages. There are pre made garden journals that you can purchase, and I may try one of these one day, but I like to be able to make my own pages and tailor the journal to fit what I want. A simple notebook works for me and is very cost effective.
How did I start a garden journal.
The very first thing I wrote in my journal is the hardiness zone I am in. I kept forgetting. Next I wrote down the estimated last and first frost dates for my hardiness zone. On page two of my journal, I drew a picture of my garden, which was at that time one raised bed and two in ground beds. My garden was small at that point, but I knew I needed to keep track of items in the garden. I drew lines to break the garden beds into squares and wrote in each square what I had planted and when.
The page I drew my garden got messy very quickly, plants died or I planted new seeds as the season went on. So I had cross outs and new marks for new seeds (which I dated). But what I realized is at least once a month, I should just redraw the garden with what I planted when. This was a lot cleaner and showed me all the changed in my garden.
If that was all you out in your journal, that’s great. From just that you will be able to learn so much about your garden to help improve for next year.
Three Key Reasons to keep a Garden Journal.
I use my garden journal for a lot of reasons, which I will discuss below, but there are three key things I use the journal for. If you just keep a journal with just these three topics, you will have a better garden year after year.
1. To plan out placement of your garden. No matter how big or small your garden is placement within the garden is important. You do not want to place a plant that is going to grow large in a spot that is going to block the sun another plant needs. You will want to consider companion planting and plant rotation. Drawing out the garden and planning where everything is going to go is critical to the success of your garden.
2. What you panted, when and where. You will not be sorry that you kept kept track of the specific name of the plant, so you remember the type of plant you planted. I loved the eggplants I grew the first year I gardened, but I never wrote down the type. If you plant a lot of different seeds, it is important to keep track of which seeds you planted where. This way if something doesn’t grow or- if something does grow- you will know what seeds you planted. This is important if you have a ton of seeds from different companies. You may have seeds that are no longer good, so keeping track of what doesn’t grow will save you from trying to plant those seeds again. Finally, the date is important. I have grown frustration that I didn’t see anything growing, but then realized based on the date planted that I needed to have more patience.
3. Your successes and failures. This is pretty simple- learn from your mistakes and repeat the success. It is easy to think you will just remember, but writing is all down will help remind you and make sure your garden gets better each year.
What else do I keep track of in my garden journal?
You can keep track of what ever you want and put whatever you want in your journal. This is why I like using a notebook, because each new page is whatever I want it to be.
Here is a list of all the ways I use my garden journal:
- Seed inventory
- Soil used. Did I use a premixed soil, did I make my own mixture, did I add store bought compost or my own? I had a bad experience with fungus gnats one year, so I would not buy that soil again. It is nice to have my records, so I can look back and see what brand of soil that was.
- Critters that I had a problem with and how I handled
- Plants I would like to grow in the future (either things I saw in nurseries, online, on instagram… you get the point)
- A final drawing of what I actually planted where. As I noted earlier, I draw a new diagram maybe once a month, as the garden is always changing.
- Weather conditions. This year I lost some plants because I planted too early. I planted in line with the last frost date, but it was just too early this year for the actual weather we got.
- Tips or tricks I read about that I want to try next year in the garden
- Nurseries I went to and liked (or did not like)
- Doodling about my garden, AKA garden day dreaming
- Gardening books I want to read
Keeping a journal is an amazing tool that I highly recommend you use. You will use it year after year. Using a notebook is an inexpensive way to keep your records of your garden and make your garden journal your own. I