Why keep a garden journal? This way, we won’t forget what we planted, where and when. And, more importantly, it helps to celebrate your gardening successes as well as the challenges you have faced during the last gardening season.
Fall is a good time to start your garden journal. You are no longer weeding, watering and fertilizing and you can look back around your garden to see precisely what worked and what didn’t. This past year in our region gardening has been a real challenge with the lack of rain and the prolonged heat to which we are not used.
There are many types of garden journals that you can purchase or you can just start with a notebook or three-ring binder.
If you are a beginning gardener, you can list your spring and fall frost dates and our hardiness zone, then divide your journal into sections such as sketch, seeds, plants, expenses, schedule, and maintenance. You can also add photos of your garden. (I usually take pictures when I’m crashing things and when they’re at their peak.)
A sketch of your garden is useful for several reasons. It records locations and what has been planted there, plans for future plantings and helps you determine the size and amount of what can be planted there.
If it is a vegetable garden, a sketch will help you remember where you are planting your crops to ensure good crop rotation. Having a sketch also helps determine how many seeds or plants you need in a certain area, which can save you money in the long run. Also note the sunny and shady areas.
If you are planting from seed, be sure to note the exact variety and the date you planted them. Next, note which varieties have grown and produced well.
If you have a “journal” section in your journal, you can create a journal of what you have been doing in your garden, such as adding soil amendments, fertilizer used, weather and temperature, and so on.
The expense section is a great place to save receipts. (You can stick an envelope on a page for this.) Keeping receipts helps you determine if your gardening efforts are worth it, especially if you grow your own food. Although there is nothing quite like the taste and health benefits of locally grown foods.
A calendar section is also useful. Using the information on your seed packets or your plant labels helps you calculate your harvest dates which you can put on your calendar.
Last, but not least, is the maintenance section. This is where you’ll take notes on everything you need to have a successful garden; weed, water, fertilize, control pests, harvest, etc. Listing the type of weeds and pests and what you used to control or eliminate them is good information that you will use in the future.
Keeping a garden journal can be a fun part of the gardening process. It can be as simple or as complex as you want. You will have all your records, plans, notes and costs in one place. You can refer to it year after year with a sense of satisfaction with what you have accomplished.
Donna Tini is a master gardener who resides in Long Lake near Eveleth. She is retired, but retains the title of professional grandmother. She enjoys her book club, crafts, baking and, of course, gardening throughout the seasons.