Your Garden Journal

Don’t rely on computer records for this. By all means, if your handwriting is atrocious and you prefer to type up your notes, go right ahead. But print them out. Do you really want to have to run to your computer, covered in soil and bug remnants, to look up something in your garden journal on the fly? We didn’t think so. Buy a three-ring binder. Preferably a sturdy, thick one, because the journal will only grow over time. Sheet protectors are a good idea, too, as they keep things nice and clean. Keep all of your records – handwritten or printed out from your computer – organized for quick and easy reference.

What will you record in your garden journal? Here is a list that will give you some idea of what a garden journal should contain and how it can help you be a better gardener:

• Any pertinent notes or observations not included in this list
• Beneficial bugs – dates purchased and released, any receipts and guarantees, did they stay, did they help
• Garden layout sketches/diagrams
• Companion planting notes – what worked, what didn’t, any surprises (good or bad)
• Compost bin information – sketches/diagrams if DIY, receipt and warranty information if purchased
• Compost notes – compost recipe (what did you put in it), turning frequency, duration from start of pile to finished product, any problems you encountered
• Crop rotation charts
• Crops planted – what you planted (indoors or outdoors), date planted/transplanted, date harvested, approximate yield
• Non-chemical pest control – methods/products used, results
• Organic fertilizers used – what they were applied to and when, results
• Organic pesticides used – what they were applied to and when, results, include recipes for homemade pesticides
• Seed packets (so don’t rip them open, snip off the very top instead)
• Soil test results and amendments added, if any
• Succession planting charts
• Supply receipts and guarantee/warranty information (i.e. fertilizer and pesticide bottles, garden fabric, pest control devices, etc.)
• Tool receipts and warranty information (i.e. garden forks, hoes, knives, rakes, spades, shovels, etc.)
• Watering records – hand watering frequency, misting frequency (if starting seeds indoors), duration and frequency of drip or soaker hose watering sessions
• Weather observations – first/last frost dates, daily temperatures, rainy/sunny day count
• Weeding records – what are you seeing a lot of, type of mulch used and how much

Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Well…it is a lot – at first. But, we promise you, it is well worth it, and as time goes on you will see how beneficial it is to have a record of what you have done so that you can build on successes and avoid repeating mistakes.

If journal organization isn’t your strong suit, check out this garden journal outline available from Amazon.Com. You will still need to buy that three-ring binder, but this journal outline will go a long way to helping you organize your information, particularly if you’re just starting your gardening adventure:

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