Using a garden journal, throughout the year, can be one of a gardener's best allies in their gardening journey. A journal does not need to be physical book, there are wonderful apps, PDF's templates, excel spreadsheets, DIY, and of course Google Docs. If you are more like me and enjoy writing longhand, a physical book would be the perfect companion. You can choose something beautiful and timeless or something simple like a composition book, which is what we use.
A journal will help guide you over the course of the seasons and years, as well as keeping you on track. Some of the tasks to to stay up to date will include garden chores, remind you of important dates such as first or last frost dates, planting and harvest days, etc.
Using a template geared for your zone will make your journal more applicable to your area and to your specific garden.
Important notes to keep in your journal will remind you of your garden successes and failures over the years. This information will help you garden more efficient by learning from your mistakes, pest infestations, blight and weather patterns.
This is a key to a gardener's victory in the garden. Understanding where you planted what, where the seeds or plants were sourced from, how they did, when you harvested and most importantly what your yield looked. These are just some of the basics that will provide you with a map for what worked and what did not work.
Your garden journal can be anything that you need to be a successful gardener. Below is a list of the tasks and information we keep in our journal:
- Garden Layout : What was planted where. Include what was reseeded (when and how often) or transplanted, season after season. This will also guide in how you plan future gardens to not plant varieties that are heavy feeders in the same plot or varieties that tend towards harboring disease in the soil.
- Weather Patterns : Document month after month. Note unusual highs, lows, excessive rain or snow. Any unusual (and usual) weather.
- Planting Info : What varieties were planted. Include sources (seeds or starts) as well as when seeds were started and transplanted. Harvest time and quantity. What plants were successful and which ones were not and why.
- Annuals : Bloom time and when they went to seed.
- Perennials : Bloom time. When to divide them (if necessary).
- Calendar : Know when to feed your garden, your annuals and your perennials. Note spring and fall frost dates. Harvest dates. Garden and tool maintenance. Weeding & watering schedule.
- Observations : Weekly and monthly observations.
I believe a section for annuals and perennial is important, as both require different needs and are treated very differently.
A garden journal is intended to be fun and another creative way to keep track of your garden. Include photos, sketches, old seed packets and anything else that may be useful for you. We believe keeping old seed packets, in an envelop, will provide you with necessary information throughout the growing season but will also remind you of your seed sources and other pertinent growing and harvesting information you may need.
Other information you may want to include may be varieties you would like to try in the future, a list of expenses, garden books and blogs you would like to read, etc.
Ideally, you want to document as much information as possible in a way that is concise and easily able to be reviewed. This is a note to your future self ... what information do you wish you had today about your garden from last year? This is a personalized documentation, so anything that is helpful and pertinent can be included.