Returning to Our Roots | How to Keep a Gardening Journal
There are some habits that just cannot die, and for me, writing lists is something that I have done ever since I learned how to spell. You should see my desk right now. I have a desktop computer, a few half-drunk water glasses, embroidery thread, and about 50 sheets of paper that have been scribbled on with random thoughts and ideas. And all of those sheets of paper are shoved back behind my computer like receipts - receipts to my thoughts. When I started thinking about gardening, I had read that keeping a log of your activities during the growing season was a smart idea. Of course, that sounded appealing to me! I love lists and logs. I've never been great at keeping a journal, at least a personal one, though. That made me a little nervous. Could I add this habit into my daily routine?
With a little bit of a work, and a cute book too, I've made journaling about my garden a new habit. It's one that I enjoy very much. It's easy, too! There's no thought process to it, rather there's hardly any thought. You just write down the facts. The hardest part is remembering to do it, but if you are in the habit already of keeping up with your garden, then it will be 100% beneficial to you to write down what happens out there with your plants on a daily or weekly basis.
At the start of the year, my grandma sent me a great gardening journal to keep that already had pages filled with some of the important things I would need to write down. You can see the journal I use here. If you are looking to get something simpler, like a blank notepad, then here are some things that you might want to keep track of and write down in your journal.
- Season + Date. This is obviously important. When you are looking back at seasons past, or even just a few days ago to remember when you last watered or fertilized, it is a good idea to keep track of the dates. I always add in what season it is as well, though I don't think this is necessary. It's just a reminder for me as I write. Keep a good log of the dates and days that you do certain tasks on. You might want to know what you were up to on this day a year from now if you have doubts about your growth or feel like the weather is off.
- Weather Conditions. You should have a line in your daily log that explains the weather conditions for the day. The highs and lows, whether the sun is shining or it's cloudy. I always try to add in what the humidity index is as well as the temperature inside of the greenhouse, which tends to be about 10 degrees warmer than it is outside. It's also good to note if there are storms or predicted storms approaching so that you can remind yourself of what the water levels were like in previous years. You'll be able to see if a year was more drought-like or too rainy, which could explain why your plants may be differing in their growth.
- Activities. This could be a number of things, but I like to keep it to a minimum of which seeds I planted, the growth of my plants, if anything has noticeably changed like yellowing leaves or the opening of a blossom. This is where I write down the height of my apple trees and berry bushes. At the end of the season, I will have to see if they have grown enough from the start to be considered healthy. You always want to keep track of the height of your plants to ensure they are growing properly and to compare yields in past seasons!
- Maintenance. Here you can write down if you watered your plants today and how much, if there were any feedings of plant foods or fertilizers, and if there were any transplants, weedings, or sprayings.
- Pests. It might be good to write down if there were any pest sightings around your plants. If you suspect rabbits or insects, it would be smart to write down when you noticed them and how you planned to get rid of them. Perhaps you want to try a repellant (I am determined to use only natural and organic ways - it might not work, but I am going to try!). It would be a good idea to note what you used and if it was sufficient. You might not remember exactly what you did next year!
- Plant Details. Every time I plant a new package of seeds, I always write down the package details into my journal. This is just in case I lose the seed packet, which I know is a big possibility. That, or the seed packet will somehow get ruined by tearing, dirt, or water. I believe that this is essential. Write down the name of the plant, how long it takes to germinate and mature, when it should be planted, how deep, and how much to thin it out once it is planted.
Again, it's really not that difficult! My gardening journal has saved me already plenty of times. There are days when I enter the greenhouse with the intention to feed the sprouts plant food and look in my book to find that it is way too soon. Some of the plants need more water than others, and I usually write down who received a major watering so that I don't overdo it. Whatever the reason is that you may want to give yourself a reminder, I think that keeping one centralized place for all of that information is just a simple and smart thing to do. It will also be a great reminder of your gardens over the years! Maybe there was a type of tomato that you tried years previous that worked really well, but this year you want to be experimental. You never know!
Did I miss anything? What do you like to keep in your gardening journal?