For years I read about keeping a garden journal, but I’ve always been really proud of my memory and was determined that I didn’t need one. As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed I just don’t remember the details any more. Some times I’m not even sure what and where I planted seeds. So a few years back I decide I had better keep track of what I was doing. I wish I’d started years sooner. My garden journal has become a great resource for me each year.
A garden journal is somewhere for you to record information about the crops you are growing. It is also a great place for me to keep track of notes and handouts from the various gardening classes I have attended over the years. I keep my records in a three ring binder with dividers for each section. It’s nothing fancy, just a place for me to keep things.
My garden journal is divided into 7 main sections. Current year crop records, past year records, Crop rotation maps, Seed Starting records, cold frame notes, class notes and hand outs and a section for goals.
Current Year Crop Record
This is where I keep track of what’s going on this year. Included on the first page is somewhere for me to keep notes of the big weather events. I always keep track of my last spring frost and my first fall frost. I also keep track of snow and really hard freezes. I usually try to do a wrap up of the year on this page as well.
Also included in this section is my planting journal. Here I keep track of everything that gets planted out in the garden. I keep track of plant varieties, when & where they were planted, how much I planted and when the plants germinated if planted by seed. I also have a section where I keep track of the harvest. I’m interested in knowing when I harvested the first produce from the planting. I also have a section for notes about the variety and what I thought about this year’s performance.
Past Year Records
I hang on to all past years planting information so that I can use those notes as a reference for the current year.
In this section I have some simple hand drawn maps of all areas of my garden. This helps me keep track of where things were planted. I try really hard to move things around and not plant for too many years in the same spot. Having these maps has really helped me when I’m planning the current year’s garden. Often the year’s kind of blend together, the maps help me keep it all straight.
Seed Starting Log
Starting seeds indoors is a fairly new adventure for me. I have only been starting my own seedlings for a couple of seasons. I have found my seed starting log really helps me keep track of things. It helps me plan my planting dates and helps me remember how things have performed in the past. It also helps me remember when I put seedlings out in the garden. I can compare this information to my planting journal and adjust my starting dates based on how last years seedling produced.
Cold Frame Notes
The more seasons I grow in cold frames the more valuable these notes become. I keep a pretty good record of what’s happening in the cold frame and when. This helps me remember what I have done in the past that failed and succeeded.
Over the years I have gone to a lot of gardening classes. Gardeners like to pass out handouts. I keep all of these notes and handouts all together in this section of my journal so they are when I need them.
I also have a section where I set a plan for next year’s garden. I usually do this towards the end of the year when I have a little down time over the holidays.
My garden journal has really become an important tool in helping me be a successful gardener. If you don’t already keep one I would suggest you pick something up and start keeping track of your garden!!