It’s your most valuable tool, so start a journal
By Lynette L. Walther
Staying one step ahead of weeds and insect infestation, planting, watering, pruning and planning – our gardens manage to keep us very busy. But there is one thing that many gardeners neglect to do, and this thing can also help improve our gardens now and in the future. That one thing is to keep a garden journal.
The point is, for many of us, when it comes to our gardens, the idea or practice of journaling is the last thing we think of often. This wise quote about being doomed to repeat mistakes when we ignore history can also apply to gardens. And yes, when it comes to growing things, we often learn as much from our mistakes and disasters as we do from our successes. But we can also get caught up in the affairs of the season, arranging and planting our gardens, sometimes to the point of losing sight of the importance of history – even the history of our own garden.
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And this is when it can be essential to keep a garden journal. There are even gardeners who keep more than one garden journal – a sort of field guide notebook for notes while they’re in the garden, and a loose-leaf notebook (or two) where they enter all the information about what is happening in their gardens.
In addition, these meticulous gardeners often take images of these clipboard pages with their cell phones or digital cameras, in case those precious pages are damaged or destroyed by the rain. Then the loose-leaf notebooks are the place to enter this relevant information, as well as a place to record purchases, note plant progress, planting times, harvest notes, plant successes and failures. , the content of the beds and the diagrams of these beds, etc.
The idea of a garden journal is not new. In fact, I have an elder from one of my ancestors who was particularly good at gardening. She listed the varieties and their evolution, planting dates, growing and weather conditions and suggestions for improvements for future plantings. She slipped in newspaper articles on gardening topics and wrote down when and what she planted. In short, it turns out that some of the best gardening advice you’ll get is from your own experience and history. This way you will often be able to predict results before you plant or even purchase any plants or seeds. I have found the weather information particularly useful from year to year as I try to determine when various things need to be planted or harvested.
Well, where to begin ? A garden journal doesn’t have to be a special book. Something as simple as a clipboard or a loose-leaf notebook will be perfectly usable. A notebook will provide space to update information and add magazine articles on topics of interest, or mount photos of plantations or add purchase information to help you track expenses. Include pages of graph paper for the garden bed to scale diagrams. Calendar pages can be added with specific date information entered. A garden journal will also help avoid mistakes by listing plants that have not done well – a planting mistake is one thing, but repeating it is a waste of money and precious time.
So here are some suggestions for getting started with yours, doing it now while the growing season is just getting started in earnest:
- Flower bed diagrams noting the location of crops or plants
- Photographs of gardens from the beginning to mid-season to the end of the season
- Sources of seeds and plants, including phone numbers and websites
- Plant lists of successful and unsuccessful varieties, including botanical names
- Information on seed start-up, when sown, when transplanted into the ground
- Flowering dates
- Pest Information
- Fertilizer applications, dates and quantity
- Weather information, dates of the last or first frosts, dates of planting of varieties
- Wish list of plants to try, including growing requirements.
- Expenses and receipts
I know we’re all busy now as usual, and starting a journal seems like the last thing you need to do, but starting now can actually make that garden and future gardens more productive, and even avoid mistakes in the process. ‘to come up. When it comes to your landscape, your gardens, it turns out that you are actually your best source of information for your garden. Now is the time to take that experience and knowledge and put it to work for you.
Lynette L. Walther is a recipient of the GardenComm Gold Medal for Writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal for Achievement, National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award and is the author of “Florida Gardening on the Go “. She is a member of GardenComm and the National Garden Bureau. Its gardens are located on the banks of the Saint John River.