Keeping a garden journal can be a very beneficial tool for reaching your garden’s full potential. But, even knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. I have found the easiest way to start your own garden journal is to take it one step at a time.
First, decide whether you want to keep a written journal or use a computer program. I use a written journal; it is part of my personal journal. For me, this makes it easier to know where it is, but yours may be a 3-ring binder or a separate diary.
Once you decide which method works for you, it is time to start gathering your information. This is the information I find useful. You may want to record additional information:
Step 1: Make a sketch of this past year’s garden: where you planted different vegetables, herbs and flowers. In my case I have a number of different growing spots. So, I make rough drawings of each one. Your drawings do not have to be fancy; my family will quickly tell you I am certainly not an artist. The important thing is that YOU know what they are showing.
Step 2: Look back. How did your garden do? Were the results what you expected? Did the seeds come up? Did the plants you bought do well or did they die? Where did you buy your seeds and plants? What varieties were they?
Step 3: Look at the weather. Was the weather a factor in your garden’s performance? This is the time I record what USDA growing area I am in. What are the dates for the first frost and the last frost? Was this accurate? I have lost an entire planting to a late Spring frost. Not something I care to repeat!
Step 4: Take stock of supplies and needed repairs. This is a good time to add any additional information such as garden tools you need, new things you want to try, and repairs to trellises and raised beds.
You have gathered your information. Now is the time to put it to work. Look at your notes and answers to each step. Decide what you want to change or do again because it works. Plan where you need to move different plants around so the soil can rest.
Once I started keeping my garden journal, I have kept one each year and have seen the benefits. Add a garden journal as one of your garden tools and help your garden become an “all you can reap buffet.”