Raise your hand if year after year, you find yourself running to Google to help you remember the frost date, or when to start your seeds, or what grows best in your area. I can’t be the only one, right? Keeping a garden journal will help you keep things organized, saving you time and money– not to mention so much headache of trying to remember things from years past. Kelli is sharing with us her advice on how to keep a garden journal, what to put in it and why! Here’s how you can keep a garden journal, making it the ultimate resource that will save you time and money year-after-year.
I like working hard in my garden. I like breaking a sweat. I like the dull ache in my knees and lower back. It means, for one, that I am able to be physically active, and it means I’m going to get tomatoes. And peppers. And kale. And cauliflower. And so. many. cucumbers. Two years ago I made a huge gardening mistake: I didn’t keep a garden journal. This simple mistake ended up costing me in the long run. Almost at the expense of all those wonderful veggies I listed above. Here’s how you can keep a garden journal, making it the ultimate resource that will save you time and money year-after-year.
1. Get a multi-pocket folder and a notebook.
Keep them together. Bonus points if your notebook has pockets in the flaps. There are so many scraps and bits of paper that need to be saved in a garden journal. Think of this as an interactive stash of everything ‘garden’.
2. Print out a monthly calendar.
I am in Zone 5, so that means I start my seeds in early March through May, plant my garden in May, and then harvest through September.
3. Save seed packets.
When you plant a seed, write with permanent market the date that you started the seeds indoors, or when you direct-sowed outdoors. You should also write the dates that you plant on the packet is you succession plant. The back of the packet contains a lot of helpful information. Keep them in a pocket of your folder, clipped together.
I look at my seed packets from the year before to help me determine when to start my seeds the next season.
4. Note weather patterns in your notebook.
Droughts, heavy rains, beautiful 75 degree temps. Note it all.
5. Note the dates of your first harvests, particularly ample harvests, and terrible harvests in your notebook.
For example, when I *think* I should be harvesting my onions and carrots is usually very different than when I *actually* should be harvesting them. One glance at my journal and I know when to start pulling them from the earth.
This is also helpful for avoiding a particular brand of seed or variety of a vegetable that didn’t do well the year prior.
6. If you see a weird insect, note the date and draw a picture of it in your notebook.
Then, when it’s destroying your cucumbers, Google how to naturally blast him outta the water! You could also get chickens to keep the bugs down in your urban garden.
7. If you see a cool or interesting flower, note the date and draw a picture of it in your notebook.
Or, press the flower between a few pages and let it dry. Keep your notes on the flower right on that page. I do this with any buds or blooms that I haven’t seen before on a vegetable. I am a relatively new gardener – only about 5 or 6 years in – so it helps me remember what is growing where when I didn’t label my plants very well.
8. At the beginning of each season, sketch out an arial view of your garden and yard area.
You’ll know what to plant in which location, which saves a lot of headache when you have all those seedlings and seed packets scattered throughout the yard.
Throughout the year, update the drawing using a different colored pencil or pen. This helps John and I see our progress when it comes to achieving our sustainability goals.
Then, for good measure, stick all of these items in a recycle Chipotle bag.
Because those bags have some serious wisdom.
What do you include in your garden journal? Leave a comment and let’s get this convo started!