Updated: May 28
Garden journaling is an important tool for gardeners. If you are not already keeping a garden journal you are missing out on this helpful tool that allows you to learn from your own experience and gain knowledge specific to your exact location, growing climate and soil. Garden journaling is also useful in helping to prevent you from making the same mistake twice, allowing you to be able to look back on weather patterns and enables you to learn more about the plants you grow in your garden through your own experience.
Through garden journaling, you can improve on your seed starting dates, soil amendments, plant care and pest control.
No one can recall everything about the previous gardening years. Journaling gives gardeners a way to look back, change and improve on their gardening techniques and experience.
Wanting a garden journal specific to vegetable gardening and knowing exactly what I wanted in a gardening journal, I decided to design my own. I purposely designed mine as a printable garden journal so that you can print off as many of each page as you need (it never fills up!) and by keeping it in a ring binder you can add in other printable useful information, notes, diary pages, seed packages or printed garden photos. Find my printable vegetable gardening journal for purchase here.
Styles of Garden Journals
Let's take a look at four different styles of garden journals you can keep. Some may choose just one of these garden journaling styles while others may wish to use two or even all four. I highly suggest trying out all styles of garden journaling so you can make an informed choice about what style works best for you.
Purchased "fill in the blank" or Notebook Garden Journal
There are many garden journals that can be purchased and make journaling easy with their prompts of what to write and fill-in-the-blanks spaces. In this style of journal you can include printed pictures and physical seed packages. They can be fun to use with their appealing and inspirational designs.
Drawbacks of this style of garden journal are that they fill up, they lack flexibility and to add photos you have to print them first.
Daily Diary Garden Journal
A diary garden journal would be a journal with lined paper or a binder with lined paper that you write in often as you would any diary. Benefits of this style of garden journaling are that daily entries become a habit; it is easy to add daily tasks, notes, observances and weather and it is easy to look back chronologically and compare years.
Drawbacks are that there are no prompts or fill in the blanks to save time and that they are generally organized chronologically, not by subject.
Digital Garden Journal/Garden Journaling Apps
Digital garden journals and apps are generally a file in your computer, phone or tablet or a downloadable app. They are often made up of multiple spreadsheets and photos. Benefits of digital gardening journals are that they are easy to edit, there is no handwriting involved and they are generally easy to add photos of your garden to.
Drawbacks are that you can not add physical seed packages to this version and that it can be easy to forget to record in if you can not have it in your garden area with you (ie. you are using a physical computer).
If you use a gardening app that you love, please share it with us in the comments!
Bullet Garden Journaling
Bullet journaling has become popular over the past few year and can be a fun and quick way to record your garden journaling notes. Bullet journaling uses a collection of shorthand, symbols, indexes and (obviously) bullet point notes to record your journaling.
For more ideas on how to create a bullet garden journal check out Cynthia's post on this topic.
15 Items to Include in Every Garden Journal
Here are 15 things that you should be including in your garden journal, no matter the type of journal.
First and last frost dates.
Planting and seeding dates.
Seed harvest dates.
Weather (general notes about weather).
A labeled diagram of your garden area.
Fertilizer application type and date.
Pests, treatments and dates.
What you planted that didn't work and WHY you think it may not have worked.
Expense tracker. (Unless you would rather not know how much you spend.)
Plant growth observations. Set a goal on how often you wish to record - daily, weekly and/or monthly.
Plant and seed sources.
To grow next year.
To change next year.
Items to Add to Perennial Garden Journals
Dates you divided your plants and WHY you divided.
When and how you started your bulbs and tubers.
When you moved perennials and WHY.
Notes on plant growth (ie. vining, tall, bushy) and size.
Date and notes on pruning and cutting back in the fall.
Items to Add to Vegetable Garden Journals
Companion planting notes.
Produce harvest records.
Crop rotation notes.
Items to Add for Trees and Shrub Garden Journals
Where you obtained the tree/shrub from.
Age of the tree/shrub.
Date pruned with notes.
Amount and date of harvests.
Disease, date, and control measures.
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Tips for Keeping Track of Plants
Consider labeling your perennials so that you don't lose track of what is what. Some find it helpful to bury a plastic label just underneath the soil.
Save your seed packages. Make notes on the seed package or tape a paper to it with notes about how successfully it grew and how well you liked that variety. Write the year purchased on the seed packages so you know how old they are and when to expect poor germination.
How to Stay Consistent with Garden Journaling
Keeping consistent with your garden journaling is undoubtedly the most difficult part.Here are some tips to keep you on track.
Try daily journaling where you write at least a sentence a day.
Schedule a weekly time slot for garden journaling and put a reminder in your calendar.
Have a journal that you can take out to the garden with you.
Don't give up when you get behind. Remember each and every entry is worthwhile and useful, it's okay if there are missing gaps.
I hope you have enjoyed these tips on garden journaling and feel inspired to keep your own garden journal so that you can learn and share your knowledge with others.
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