Keep a Garden Journal


One of my most indispensable tools in the garden isn’t a hoe, shovel, or tiller … it is a book.  To be specific, I use a couple of books.  I have a day planner that I use to plan out my daily tasks, and I have a notebook that I use for bigger projects.  (I’m writing this draft in it right now.)  This time of the year gardening starts to occupy more space in my notes.

Maybe it’s my background as a teacher, but good note taking is an important skill.  Most of us think we’ll remember what we’ve done in the garden, when those seeds were planted, the name of that fertilizer Bob’s recommends, etc.  My wife and co-workers know I’m a scatterbrain … (I think it’s called ADHD now), and I know it too.  That’s why I rely on pen and paper to stay organized.  Being a tech-savvy guy, I’ve even tried various apps, but the problem is always the same – apps disappear when you close them.  As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”.  I need the physical presence of pen and paper setting on my desk reminding me that there’s important stuff inside.

For day to day task lists, I rely on a method called “bullet journaling”.  It is a flexible system that uses a sort of shorthand to prioritize and move tasks.  Then for my regular notes, anything goes.  I use outlines, sketches, lists, and charts.  So what are some ways you can use a journal in the garden?

  • Record when, where, and how much of an item is planted.  (You planted too much zucchini.  Trust me.)
  • Projected harvest dates.
  • Fertilizing schedules.
  • Notes about pest management.  For example, when did Japanese beetles first appear last spring?
  • Sketch plans for garden beds, row layouts, or your next big landscaping project.
  • Make lists of successes … and failures (Plant less zucchini next year.)
  • Make a wish list of plants you want to try.
  • See a really cool idea on Pinterest?  Jot that down too!

A garden journal is the unique history of your garden.  It can help record your successes … and where you need to improve.  Most importantly it can help you keep growing your skills.  I mentioned above my past as a teacher.  Your garden is one of life’s greatest teachers. … You might want to take notes.