An important part of gardening is keeping track of what has happened in your garden from year to year. A garden journal is a perfect place to keep things organized.
This post contains affiliate links, clicking on them will not cost you anything extra, but does allow Stoney Acres to make a small commission on your purchase through the Amazon Affiliate Program
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 anymore. Sometimes I’m not even sure what and where I planted seeds! So a few years back I decided I had better keep track of what I was doing. I wish I’d started years ago! My garden journal has become a great resource for me each year.
What is a Garden Journal?
A garden journal is somewhere for you to record information about the crops you are growing. It is also a great place to keep track of notes and handouts from various gardening classes. I keep my garden journal in a three-ring binder with dividers for each section. My garden journal is nothing fancy, just a place for me to keep things.
My garden journal is divided into 7 main sections. The first 4 sections are: current year crop records, past year records, crop rotation maps, and seed starting records. The last 3 sections are: cold frame notes, class notes/handouts and a section for garden goals.
Current Year Crop Record
This section of my garden journal 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. Also, I like to keep track of snow and really hard freezes. I usually, try to do a wrap up of the year on this page as well. An important part of all this weather stuff is knowing what garden zone you live in. If you would like to find out more about garden zones check out this post!
Also included in this section of my garden journal is my planting record. 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 in my garden journal so that I can use those notes as a reference for the current year. I’m amazed at how often I refer back to my past year notes. It’s always great to be able to see how things did last year or the year before!! This is why it is important to keep some detailed notes. You will refer back to your past year notes a lot, so be sure to hang on to them for at least 7 to 10 years.
In this section of my garden journal, 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 years kind of blend together, the maps help me keep it all straight! Learn more about crop rotation in this post.
Seed Starting Logs
An important part of my garden journal is my seed starting log. I try to grow most of my own seedlings and 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 year’s seedlings produced.
Extra Sections for Your Garden Journal
The first four sections listed above are must haves for your journal. I have 3 other sections that I use most years to help me keep track of some very specific things in my backyard garden.
Cold Frame Notes
We have 3 garden cold frames that we use most years from October until April. We have had a lot of great success growing in cold frames and have done a lot of experimenting over the years. I try to keep a lot of notes on what happens in our cold frames each year.
The more seasons I grow in cold frames the more valuable these notes become. We are up to 10 seasons now of gardening in these cold frames. 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. My journal has really helped me with my Year-Round Gardening efforts.
What gardener doesn’t love learning new information? Over the years I have gone to a lot of gardening classes. I keep all of the notes and handouts all together in this section of my garden journal so I know where they are when I need them.
I also have a section in my garden journal where I set a plan for next year’s garden. This usually gets done towards the end of the year when I have a little downtime over the holidays. I like to make a list of all the crops I plan on growing in the upcoming season. This list helps me later when I’m buying seeds and mapping out where everything in the garden is going to be planted.
My garden journal has really become an important tool in helping me be a successful gardener. If you don’t already a garden journal I would suggest you pick something up and start keeping track of your garden!!
thank you so much for posting pictures of your garden journal …I know it will help me begin my journal and plan my garden.
Your Grandpa was a amazing man. Thank you for sharing his greenhouse photos and history.
I go a little further with my journal..things I include are daily special events like unusual amts of rain/late frost chances/high heat. I also record how much I harvest-especially when trying new varieties of seeds or a new supplier. I record when//how much I can and also, if I buy produce to can like peaches. Orchard output is recorded and misc. things like when the chicks start laying or how much honey we get off each hive. Basically, anything that has to do with food production on our place. Looking back I predicted this years arrival of Japanese beetles…right on schedule. Drat!
Great ideas Dee! I also keep track of my harvest amounts but I don’t keep that in my journal. Instead I use a spreadsheet which allows me to do a little year to year comparison. I like the idea of recording those daily events, that would be good info to have. For example right now we are having a very early heat wave. If I note that then I can track the effect of that heat on my crops. Great idea!!
I’ve been keeping a garden journal for years and now that I’ve started growing heirloom veggies and saving seed it is invaluable.
I’ve learned to keep a large section free for notes on each variety and have found this very helpful for planning the next year’s gardens.
Great Suggestions Ray!!
would you mind posting some readable pictures of your journal forms? or even a .pdf? I complicate everything I touch so it would be lovely to have a look at how you organize particular sets of garden info.
I will see what I can do in the future.