Why You Should Keep a Garden Journal
Most people hate journaling. They were introduced to journals in school, forced to write in them every day and then hand them in to their teacher. It felt more like a report, than a personal document. Well, you can relax. A garden journal is nothing like those journals you were required to keep in school.
Garden journals are easy. You don’t have to write in them every day. You don’t have to worry about spelling and grammar. You don’t even need to write in complete sentences. And you don’t ever have to show it to anyone. It is for your eyes only.
What You Should Write in a Garden Journal
So what do you write in a garden journal? Anything that you want to remember for the future. What you planted. When you planted it. Where you planted it. Seed germination rates. The condition of plants on arrival from mail-order catalogs. Which plants did well and which did not. Pests. Diseases. How you handled them. What worked. What didn’t work. The weather. Rain. Frosts. Extreme temperatures.
By the way, did you notice the lack of sentence structure there? And yet I managed to convey a lot of information, didn’t I? This is how you can write in your garden journal. There is no need to write in complete sentences or organize your writing in paragraphs. Brief notes are fine as long as they are clear and when you read them in the future, they make sense.
Your garden journal doesn’t have to be an historical record entirely. If you like to write, your journal is a great place to record your thoughts, or it can be where you write essays or poetry inspired by your garden. If you are artistic, you can add drawings and paintings of your garden. There are no hard and fast rules. Your garden journal should be a reflection of you and how you garden.
Why You Should Keep a Garden Journal
The value of your garden journal will become clear in a few years. Each year you should make a point of re-reading your garden journal from previous years. You will start to notice trends in weather. You will become more selective from whom you buy seeds and plants. You will adjust your watering schedule. Prune more or less. Your garden will start to look better and yield more each year as you apply the lessons from previous years.
3 Cheap Ideas For a Garden Journal
Garden journals are sold by most garden supply companies. They can be beautiful and expensive. Here are three great inexpensive alternatives.
1. Spiral Notebook
A spiral notebook, that staple of the classroom, makes a great garden journal. It’s cheap and durable and you won’t care if you get it dirty. You can write in it, sketch in it, and staple in photos and seed packets. Just be sure to label what year(s) you used it.
2. Garden Blog
I have arthritis in my hands and fingers making writing very painful. I can still type so years ago I hopped on the blogging bandwagon. I loved my garden blog! I could write, add photos and links, and even share experiences with fellow gardeners all over the world. I quickly got caught up in following other blogs, reading and commenting on other blogs every day, keeping a blogroll, participating in special events like posting pictures of what was blooming in my garden on certain days. Eventually I abandoned my garden blog. It had become too much trouble and wasn’t providing me with the information that I considered important.
But don’t let my experience stop you from garden blogging. There is a whole gardening community out there that you can connect with, learn from and share your garden with. You can get started with no initial investment using one of the many free blogging sites.
3. Microsoft Office OneNote
Now I am using as my garden journal. It is part of the Microsoft Office package that I purchased with my laptop. I have it on my laptop and the app installed on my phone so that my garden journal is with me everywhere I go. Microsoft Office OneNote
OneNote is a virtual notebook with apparently no limit on the number of pages and sections that you can create so there is no need to purchase a new notebook each year. I just add additional pages. I have created a notebook documenting everything I do in my gardens. I can add photos, screenshots, videos and weblinks to any page. I have separate sections for each garden that I tend, including the public gardens that I work in. Each section has pages devoted to the seeds and plants that I am ordering, planting diagrams, questions I want to discuss with other gardeners, ideas for the future as well as the usual notes on the current year detailing the weather, what worked and what didn’t work. As the years have passed by, my virtual notebook has become invaluable.
No matter what form your garden journal takes it is your most important garden tool. It is a record of your gardening life and a repository of all of your hard-won gardening knowledge.
© 2014 Caren White