03 June 2013

How to Start a Garden Journal

When the wind, rain and cold make gardening seem like a thing of the past, you can revive (or begin) your interest in gardening by starting a journal. You can continue it throughout the growing season, making changes and trying ideas on paper before actually digging. It can also be used as a sort of scrapbook to remember your gardening adventures. It is not expensive to get started, and in fact, getting your gardening experiments out on paper can save you money in the end. Here are some ideas for your garden journal.

1. Choose your notebook or other method for keeping your journal

What you want to put in your journal and how big a garden you have has a lot to do with what kind of journal you'll want. If making notes on a single, moderately-sized garden is your main goal, a simple notebook may be just what you need. If you have a large garden, you may want to use a large, 3-ring binder with dividers. If you want to add pressed flowers, empty seed packets, magazine pages, photos, etc. then a scrapbook or photo album may suit your needs.

Remember that you will need to keep track of things each year, so either use a different journal for each year or have a way to divide your journal clearly into years.

2. What do you put in it?

This is as varied as the gardener! Some ideas are: pressed leaves and flowers of plants you want to remember, sketches of potential layouts and beds, observations about the weather, notes on the growing habits of your plants, ideas for additions to your garden such as benches, trellises, photos of plants and garden beds etc. (More on what to put in your journal below)

2. Make it memorable

Gardeners often think they will remember details about their gardens - after all, your garden seems so up close and personal all summer. But when autumn comes and the garden succumbs to frost and cold, it is hard to remember where things were planted and how they were laid out. You may even forget some of the plants you had growing, especially if they are annuals. You can help your memory by putting pressed leaves or flowers in your journal, noting the name of the plant and where you got it. You can do the same with sketches, empty seed packets, or simply notes.

Take note of where you planted things as well. Labels in the garden are fine for the summer, but they are easily dislodged and lost over the winter.

3. Note what works - and what doesn't

It can really save you money to take note of what does well in your garden and what does not. You don't want to waste time and money planting and re-planting those flowers or vegetables that struggle or fail in your garden. Some situations and environments are just not conducive to certain plants, and it's easy to forget that in the midst of spring planting fever.

4. Recipes

If you grow edibles, keep the recipes in your journal. This is where a 3-ring binder or pocket dividers come in handy - you can take the recipe out and refer to it without having the entire journal on your kitchen counter.

Get creative! This is your journal, and it can be as private or public as you like. You can involve your kids, too, by getting them their own journals or adding their contributions to yours. Gardening journals are a wonderful way to connect with your garden.

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