A garden journal is simply a notebook where you record information about your garden. You can include everything from what vegetables you’ve planted to where they are located. Some people record the amount of sun or shade each plant gets and how often each variety gets watered. Keeping track of this information can be helpful in several ways.
If you’re a gardener, you know that no season is the same, and each one brings new challenges as well as opportunities. Keeping a garden journal is an easy way to keep track of your successes and failures.
Here are some of the primary reasons you should start keeping a garden journal to make sure your season is successful.
Keep track of what plants you’ve sown.
Have you ever been outside weeding, only to realize that you’ve actually pulled up one of your transplants? If you garden, chances are good that this has happened to you at least once. Even the most experienced gardeners can have a difficult time keeping track of what they’ve planted and where they’ve put things. One way to avoid this problem is to keep a garden journal. Not only can you map out each garden bed, but keeping a garden journal can give you a visual that makes crop rotation, companion planting, and even a square-foot garden that much easier to plan.
Make notes in your garden journal of when your plants bloom.
By notating when certain plants start blooming, you can get an idea of when to expect fruit in future seasons. In turn, you can use this to help you create a planting schedule. While it is necessary to know what zone you’re in to keep track of your season length and frost dates, a journal can help you identify any weather patterns in your area and how your garden may react.
If it’s too hot, your tomatoes may struggle to blossom. If it’s too cold, pollinators may be scarce, and your squash won’t get fertilized. A garden journal can be a tool you use to track which plants are blooming at the same time or which ones may be stressed. This is especially important if you are looking to use succession planting as you will not want all of your harvest to come in simultaneously.
Keep track of what pests or diseases affect your vegetation.
As any gardener knows, pests and diseases can quickly damage or destroy both young and mature plants alike. Whether it’s aphids infesting your peppers, wilt damaging your squash, or hornworms eating your tomatoes, garden pests can be a major headache. Keeping a garden journal can help you track what pests and diseases affect your plants and more easily identify problems when they arise.
It is easier to keep a record in the present that can help you take steps to prevent similar issues in the future. Keeping a written record can also help you track what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pest and disease control.
Note the weather conditions and how it affects your garden.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just getting started, you know that the weather can make or break your garden. A garden journal is a perfect place to document what conditions were like when your plants thrived… or didn’t. Did they wilt in the heat? Did they survive a late frost? Make notes of these events so you can plan accordingly in future years. And don’t forget to document the amount of rainfall (or lack thereof) as well!
Record how much water and fertilizer you used on each plant throughout the season.
If you’re new to gardening, keeping track of how much water and fertilizer you use on each plant can help you understand what they need to thrive. By recording this information in your garden journal, you can look back on previous seasons to see what worked best and adjust accordingly. Additionally, this can be helpful if you experience a problem with one of your plants—by knowing how much water and fertilizer it was receiving, you can narrow down the possible causes and take steps to correct the issue.
Documenting what you use can help save money by avoiding over-watering, under-watering, and using the wrong types of fertilizers. If you do decide to experiment with a new type of fertilizer or watering system, thorough records will help identify any successes or failures.
Make sketches of your garden layouts and note which plants perform well in each spot.
Soil is essential for growing healthy plants. It provides nutrients and support for roots, but it also helps to regulate moisture levels and prevent weed growth. However, soil can also be quickly eroded by wind and water, damaging plant life and can make it difficult for new seedlings to take root. One tool in your toolbox is to use your garden journal to map out your layout. Are there any hills, low spots, or drainage issues? Is there a high area where you can do in-ground gardening and a low area that would work with raised beds?
Maybe you aren’t sure where you want to put all the plants you started. Mapping out your layout in a garden journal helps provide an illustration that can be re-arranged to fit your specific needs and will very quickly let you know if you have more plants than space or if an arrangement is not the most optimal use of your space.
Jot down ideas for new plants to try in your garden next year.
If you’ve heard of chicken math, plant math is very similar. You may go to the garden center, see something new and interesting, and think, “I have to have that.” Once you get home, you realize that your garden is already overflowing with plants, and you don’t have room to squeeze anything else in. That’s where keeping a garden journal can come in handy. I like to keep a list of seeds that I already have and make a new list of varieties that I would like to try in my garden next year. Then, when it’s time to replant, you know exactly what you want to add to your garden.
Write about your gardening success and failures.
A garden journal is a great place to track the progress/failures of your plants. You can record when you sow them, when they sprout, and how they grow over time. This information can be invaluable when it comes time to replant your garden. It is invaluable to be able to look back and note which plants did well and which ones didn’t. Keeping track of what works and what doesn’t enables you to learn from your mistakes and take steps to prevent them in the future.
One of the greatest things I ever did for myself was to take notes on all of the vegetables I chose to grow during the first two seasons that I gardened. This allowed me to not only adopt the method of crop rotation but I was able to compare how the same plants did in different areas. For example, I thought my tomatoes would do better in our high tunnel, but they actually performed best in a raised bed where they received access to rainwater.
Reasons to keep a garden journal.
Garden journals can be a great resource to help you track your progress, keep notes on what works and what doesn’t, and plan for future seasons. If you’re not already keeping one, we hope this article has convinced you of the benefits of garden journaling and given you some ideas of what you need to be paying attention to. So roll up your sleeves, get out your notebook, and get ready to make this the best gardening season you’ve ever had.