By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
My friend asks “That’s pretty! What is it?” My response: “I have absolutely no idea.” Thus began my garden journal. After taking a class on journaling at the Master Gardener State Conference, I knew it was the answer to my problems – or at least part of them. I remembered that my now gone gardening neighbor, Buddie, kept a record of how much rain we got each year and when we got it. He also recorded what he planted and when.
There are expensive, formal journals available, but I have found that a five subject spiral notebook does the trick. In one section I keep track of the rainfall, its date and how bad the storm was. In the second section I have a diagram of my beds and what I plant in each. I keep this part in pencil so that when a plant dies, I can easily insert its replacement. I also keep the plastic tab that comes with the plant and glue it down in this section. Sometimes when a plant seems to be growing too large I can look at that tab and see if that is normal. Also if a plant is struggling, I can check and see if I am over or underwatering.
In the third section I keep a record of which plants really perform well. Last year I had a Sweet 100 tomato plant from which I harvested 5 gallons, yes gallons, of tomatoes a week. I kept seeds from the first harvest and it looks like those plants will produce just as well this year.
In the fourth section I keep pictures and articles from magazines of dream gardens and ideas for gardening hardscape that I run across. Some I hope to use and others I just enjoy looking at. I also keep gardening “sayings” that I hope to make into signs for the yard. “Trespassers will be Composted” and “You Can’t Buy Happiness but You Can Buy Plants and That’s Pretty Much the Same Thing”.
The fifth section is devoted to plants and great ideas that were total failures and I never want to revisit. You think you won’t forget that invasive plant or the type of Lantana that now grows 7’ tall and you have to cut down with a chainsaw each winter, but as years go by you will.
When journaling use your own ideas and keep track of what information is important to you. Maybe a plant that your child or grandchild helped you plant and the picture you took. It will make for smiles when that child is planting their own garden in years to come.