By Sommer Cartier.
A journal is a gardener’s greatest tool. It’s a place to store records and important observations, to track patterns, to store information on plant varieties and more. Journals can serve as an invaluable reference to review before planting each season. Your journal will provide you with a better understanding of your garden’s unique characteristics and aid you in selecting the right plants for your garden space. Your notes will help you identify the right time and place to plant each variety and, possibly, when to expect the arrival of certain seasonal diseases or pests. For these reasons, it’s recommended that every gardener keep a journal.
Garden journals can be as simple as recording information in a spiral notebook or as involved as keeping a binder with notes, tags and photos.
For a quick and simple journal, use a composition or spiral notebook to record activities and observations
Digital journals work well for those who prefer typing to handwriting. Digital photographs of your garden can be uploaded directly to your documents and edited to suite your needs.
Three ring binders work well for more customized journals. You can add any documents you deem important for planning purposes.
Below are a few tips on what to keep in your garden journal.
Three ring binder – vinyl binders with cover sleeves for displaying photos are preferred
Plastic photos sleeves – great for storing and displaying seed packets and garden tags that provide important growing details for your plants. These sleeves are also great for storing photos that document plant health, diseases and pests.
Graph paper – great for sketching pictures of your garden. A garden sketch is incredibly useful in planning for crop rotations. It helps you remember where you planted vegetables in prior years, allowing you to rotate vegetables in the same family. It also helps you to identify young seedlings whose plant tags have gone missing.
Monthly calendar – record important dates such as seed planting, when you fertilized, when certain crops began fruiting, the arrival of butterflies, or when you first noticed a pest problem.
Blank pages -record information such as weather patterns, pest/disease problems and how you treated them, details on soil preparation, shade patterns throughout the day and notes on what plants thrived or struggled in your garden
With summer coming to an end, many gardeners are starting to plan for their fall or winter gardens. This is the perfect time to establish a new habit and begin keeping a garden journal. Choose the journaling method that best suits your time and needs and remember to have fun! Happy journaling my friends!
Sommer Cartier is a certified Master Gardener with an MA in International Development and Social Change. Her specialty is working with local food systems and using gardens as a tool for community engagement.