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How to Start Your Own Garden Journal (And Why You Want To)

Every spring while you’re waiting for your plants to mature, do you always remember the exact date you planted your seeds? Do you remember the exact variety of cucumber that performed especially well two years ago? During the garden season do you always remember the last time you watered, or do you just feel it out? If you answered “no” to these questions, you might benefit from starting your very own garden journal!

Garden journals exist in a variety of ways, and it all depends on what works best for you. Some people keep their garden journals in a simple notebook. Others purchase a three-ring binder. Others yet keep their garden journals online. However you decide to do it, keeping a garden journal is bound to make you a better gardener.

Why keep a garden journal?

It’s hard to exaggerate the benefits of keeping a garden journal. Keeping a written record of daily, weekly, and monthly garden results helps you build upon the knowledge you gain throughout the years so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. It allows you to look back on a year’s worth of hard work, and to see all the progress you’ve made. Here are some of our favorite reasons to keep a garden journal:

  • It allows you to remember what days you planted seeds, so you know when to expect growth and maturation.
  • You’ll remember which plant varieties worked well and which ones failed.
  • You can keep track of crop rotation so you can plant in a way that preserves nutrients in the soil
  • It allows you to know exactly how much space you’re going to need for each plant section. How much space will you need for tomatoes? For pumpkins? Knowing this can save you time and money.
  • It helps you remember useful facts such as frost dates, common pest problems and solutions, and what you planted each season.

What You Should Write in Your Garden Journal

Starting your own garden journal is always exciting, but it can be daunting. Where do you begin? How are you supposed to organize it, and what are you supposed to write? Think of keeping a garden journal much like keeping a baby log. You want to write progress on growth, include pictures, and statistics. Here are a few ideas of what to keep in your journal:

  • A list of plants, and their success rates.

Be sure to hold onto seed packets and transplant tags. These hold valuable information about the care and keeping of your plants – their varieties, hardiness levels, and the necessary sunlight and watering they’ll need. Each year, write down which plants you chose and their varieties. Keep track of how each variety does, so you know which plants to avoid and which ones to go back for year after year.

  • A sketch of your garden layout

Having a diagram of your garden helps in various ways. It helps you plan for which plants you need and how many. It helps you glimpse into years past to see where you planted what, and it helps you stay organized in the planning phase.

  • A maintenance log

Every event in the garden can be mentioned in the garden log. What has the weather been up to? When’s the last time it rained? When did you last water? When did you prune the rose bushes, plant the bulbs, or fertilize last? Instead of scratching your head, you can refer to your maintenance log. This log is perfect for jotting down daily, weekly, and monthly observations so you can pick up on patterns.

  • A garden calendar

Sometimes it can be hard to remember when you have to perform certain tasks around the garden. A calendar helps you remember when the radishes need to be harvested, when the fruit trees need to be pollinated, and when the perennials need to be trimmed. Instead of wrapping a string around your finger, jot ‘em down on the calendar!

  • Ideas for your dream garden

Have you always wanted to plant bulbs in the fall but never remember to get around to it? Have you been meaning to plant lavender and marigolds around the perimeter of your house to chase the mosquitos away? Did you see a picture of an amazing potager garden in a magazine that blew you away? Keep these ideas in your garden journal. This way, you’ll remember to turn your dreams into plans, and your plans into reality.

  • A list of expenses and receipts.

These days, most of us don’t garden for the money. We garden for the health benefits and the lovely taste of home-grown tomatoes. But keeping a list of expenses is a great way to track everything you spend on gardening (especially if you’re just getting started), and is also a great way to track what you save. Did you not have to buy cucumbers all summer? Write it down. Know what you save, so you know exactly how your wallet benefits from the garden.

This month, go find a nice notebook that feels good to use, and start your own garden journal. Years from now, you’ll remember what worked, what didn’t, and how far you’ve come.

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