Speaking of Garden Journals, let me ask you a few questions.
If you started seedlings before you planted your garden last spring, on what date did you start them?
If you bought your transplants from the garden center, where did you buy them, what were the varieties and what date did you buy them and then plant them?
What was the date the last time you applied an organic fertilizer to your landscape?
What was planted last year in the bed where you are growing tomatoes this year. What was there the year before that?
When was the last time you watered your vegetable beds? How much or how long did you water?
Long forgotten Answers to common questions
Ok, if you are like me, most of those questions would be unanswerable just from memory. If you have a garden journal, it would be a matter of looking back through your notes to find the answers. Now, I am not the most organized person in the world, and my memory certainly is not the best in the world. However, there are times when it is important to be able to recall things in your garden that may impact future successes. That is where a garden journal comes into play.
Gardens are things that depend a lot on what has happened in the past. Successes and failures are good references when planning. What was that cucumber variety that did so well two years ago in that particular space in the garden? When did we plant those eggplant seeds and shouldn’t they have germinated by now? How did we treat our squash plants for borers a few seasons ago? How much did it rain the last time? What did we do differently that might have caused our pepper plants to fail?
The Future by way of the Past
Think about a few of the things that would be nice to have at your fingertips for reference.
- What grows well in certain places in your garden and what doesn’t.
- What planting and growing techniques were successful and which ones weren’t.
- What kinds of insects and other creatures have you observed in your garden?
- How do certain plants react to certain techniques?
- What new ideas have you found that you want to try in your garden?
And the list could go on and on.
A Garden Journal Start
So what do you need to start a garden journal? A sheet of paper and a pencil are good things to have. Seriously, it can be as simple as a cheap paperback journal or as elaborate as a digital journal that you can access from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. The main thing is to figure out what fits your style and then use it.
You can search the internet for garden journal ideas and become overwhelmed. We started ours with a 50 cent student composition book that we used to make notes on what we planted, when we planted it, varieties and where we sourced the seeds. It was quickly evident that we weren’t the most assiduous journalers in the world. There were often long gaps in the entries, and sometimes our notes were unintelligible a few days after we made them. Once or twice, we lost the notebook completely. We were failures at keeping a proper journal.
Walking the walk
Since I regularly preach the sermon on garden journaling, I thought maybe I should start practicing what I preach. I began to research garden journals, looking at what others suggest, use, and advertise. It was quickly overwhelming. After sifting through the pile of downloaded options, thousands of bytes of PDF files, and links to that many more concepts, I finally decided to create my own, in my style that I thought would work.
Garden Journal Templates
You can download the PDF file with the pages that I have created to maintain a decent garden journal. I am not saying this is the end-all of garden journals. Download it, use what you think fits you, or change it to fit your style. It’s free. (Download Here)
It may take several seasons for you to begin to benefit from your garden journal. In time, as you keep your notes and make your plans, you will find yourself referring back to refresh your memory about what you have done and would like to do in your garden.
For more information about Gardening and Landscapes in West Texas, visit our website at https://westtexasorganicgardening.com