Creating and Using a Garden Journal

How to Start a Garden Journal

Nature photo
Photo by Milos Tonchevski on Unsplash

“It’s not even spring yet and you’re already talking about that pile of stuff I call my garden journal?” Absolutely! The most time-consuming part is making the journal itself. This article will help you with suggestions for the journal, what to put in it, and how to organize it. So get a jump-start on spring by finally getting your journal finished!

First, you’ll want to decide what to use for your journal.  Most of us would likely choose a beautiful store-bought journal where we can do writings and drawings and place dried flowers, but a three-ring binder has proven to be a lot more practical – and you will be very proud of the effort you put into your journal! You can also purchase colorful tabs, assorted markers, and stickers, which will give your journal a bit of flair. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

Personalizing your journal can be a lot of fun even if you aren’t creative. If you have a computer and printer, you can snap a picture of the flowers or plants in your garden, print them on regular paper, and then use them for the front, back and even the spine of your journal! You can type words on each insert, such as “Jenny’s Garden Journal.” Then you can print or write on the tabs for each section. There can be a section for each plant or flower you have planted or will plant. Make a sheet for each plant with the name at the top. You can tape receipts, plant tags, and information about each plant on this page, and then make holes in this sheet and put it right into your journal.

If you want a neater, lighter journal, you can also scan your receipts and tags, print the sheets, and then slide them into page protectors. Another great idea is to print out to-do lists for your garden for each month. These work great as the first section of your journal because you’ll see your list as soon as you open it! Great examples of to-do lists and ideas for the outside of your journal can be found at the always-useful IowaGardener website.  There are more great ideas on the internet to add to your basic journal.The options are endless!

As you can see, there’s no reason to have tags, receipts, or any of your garden info lying around or piling up. It’s time to get organized and finally start or update your journal!

In this video, a gardener explains how she keeps her garden journal:

Keeping Track Of What Worked And What Didn’t

Sometimes new gardening tricks happen by complete chance. Often times if you didn’t take the time to make some kind of notation about it, the ingenious idea that produced amazing results becomes a forgotten treasure. You may hear about this taking place all the time. A person wakes in the middle of the night with an epiphany and thinks, ‘I’ll write it down in the morning’. Morning time comes and the epiphany is gone. That is why many people keep small note pads on the nightstand, so innovative ideas that come in the middle of the night can be notated immediately.

garden journalMethods Of Garden Journaling

Some people call it journaling, although the practice of documenting has been taking place for years concerning gardening. The Farmer’s Almanac is the perfect example. Keeping thorough documentation of a wide range of events every season to create a point of reference. This makes it possible to see what kinds of things worked for you as well as allows you to see what kind of patterns develop over time. Obviously, keeping personal notes for yourself can involve many more points of interest of personal relevance to you.

Benefits Of Garden Journaling

As was pointed out, starting this practice on your own allows you to take advantage of trends, patterns, and routines that you discover. This gives you the upper hand as almost a blueprint or window into the future. You will know when the best times are to perform specific tasks. This also creates a kind of handbook of triumphs and failures, helping you to accumulate knowledge that will make you a more successful gardener. Repeating the things that worked and further refining your approach is how continued advancements become possible. The routines of another gardener may seem unique and mysterious, because they may have been in the process longer and have already learned the things that work and do not work.

Garden JournalingFour Steps to Making a Garden Journal

We discussed the benefits of maintaining a gardening journal. This journal is meant to be a record of planting dates, seed types, weather changes and everything else you’ll need to know to keep up a healthy and thriving garden. However, the most important reason for having a garden journal is that this item will help you properly plan for subsequent growing seasons, as you’ll be able to base your actions on results from prior years. There are various types of gardening journals that you can make, but the steps below will teach you how to make one that is right for your particular situation.

How to make a garden journal

Step One: For starters, you determine what purpose your journal will serve. It could be a casual record of what you’ve done so far to your garden so you have something to review, if need be. However, if you are a more serious gardener, you’ll really need to make this journal detailed as it will be a vital part of planning any future gardening activities.

Step Two: Next, you’ll need to pick a journal format that’s right for your purposes. If you’re just making a simple journal, you can use a notebook or diary. In fact, you can even use graph paper here if you’re just noting down planting dates. For those looking to create a more serious journal, a large binder where you can add paper and pouches for seeds work best. Of course, you can always opt for an electronic journal using a word processing program or a specialized desktop or mobile software application.

Step Three: Divide your garden journal into sections. These divisions can be chronological, topical or even just practical. In other words, the sections can be based on growing season or plant types. You may even decide to have different section for each of your seed notes, weather notes and financial data.

Step Four: Obviously you’ll have to leave some space in each of your new sections for non-text items like seed samples, diagrams and photos of your garden. Once that’s sorted out, it’s time to start entering information and data into the proper sections of your newly formed garden journal. You’ll also want to cover your journal with a book cover or plastic laminate, as it may get wet and dirty whenever you actually bring it out to your garden. Lastly, be prepared that your journal will grow over time so have new sections and paper ready to go when needed.

Using a Journal to Organize Gardening Chores

While gardening is definitely a fun hobby, it can also be a long and tedious process because there is so much to do here. In fact, a lot of times these tasks associated with gardening must happen at certain times. If they’re not, it could screw up everything. That’s why it is best if you organize your gardening chores ahead of time. You’ll stay up-to-date on everything while getting what needs to be done on time.

Organizing Gardening Chores

garden journalBuy a calendar: You’ll want to invest in a calendar so that you can record all of your gardening chores ahead of time. You may want to include the calendar in your gardening journal notebook, but that’s up to you. However, you want a calendar that is portable so that you can bring it out to the garden with you, as well as one that gives you plenty of room to write down the details and specifics associated with the chores.

Use junk paper to draft up your chores: Before you start writing down all your gardening chores on the calendar, you should make a list of the tasks on some kind of scratch paper. This will give you room to come up with the very best plan for your specific needs. The list should cover the entire year and cover both regular tasks like weeding and watering and seasonal chores such as harvesting and buying seeds.

Write the chores on your calendar: After you’re done double-checking your list, it is time to start filling in the tasks on their specific date. You should always write down the date of the last frost so that you can set dates for tasks accordingly.

Save your calendar: One great thing about organizing your chores and writing them down in a calendar is that you now have a reference to go by for future seasons. For example, if you grew a crop of carrots and they exceeded your expectations, you can go back to your calendar and see the exact days that you planted and harvested them. If needed, you even have the power to check with an online almanac to see the temperatures on those given days.

We’re sure these tips will help you create an use a garden journal and will improve your gardening experience. Let us know in the comments if you have other creative ways to use your garden journal.

Here’s another video that shows one gardener’s approach to journaling.

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