Since one of your goals this month is to start gardening, it’s also time to start keeping (or updating) a gardening notebook.
Keep a record
There’s a saying among scientists: the work’s not done until the paperwork’s done. Like a good scientist, a good gardener will want to keep a record of his/her gardening experience: what’s worked, what varieties thrived, what varieties tasted or produced the best and plans for improving next year’s garden. And since we learn best from our mistakes be sure to include your failures as well. That’s the reason for keeping a garden notebook.
What to include in your garden notebook
Here are some things to include in your garden notebook:
- When you started planting.
- A brief record of the weather, unusual temperatures or weather phenomena that may have affected how your garden performed.
- What varieties of plants you planted.
- Quality and quantity of the produce from your garden.
- Which varieties you liked best.
- How much you were able to put up (canning, drying or freezing).
- How long you had food from your garden. (Did you run out of food you preserved? Did you have a surplus? If you stored food in the basement or root cellar, how long did the food last? Did it spoil prematurely?)
- Your crop rotation plan.
When you keep track of all these little variables from year to year, you will be able to improve your garden each year. If you find planting at a certain time or using a particular variety works well for you one year, use it again. But, if you have a variety that didn’t give good yields, you may want to give it another try to see if you can improve upon it. Record the variables that you think may have contributed to a good or bad yield.
Where to get a notebook
Any notebook will do. Get a simple binder with page dividers. In one segment record where you ordered seeds, prices, how good the service was and quality of the seeds. In another section, record how much food you preserved or stored in the root cellar. If you ran out of certain foods mid-winter, make a note to increase how much you plant and put up the following year. In another section, record your plant rotation. In the final section, record your plans for improving the following year.
You can find any number of garden notebooks for sale in garden centers or online. You can download this one for free. Plant Diary and Garden Manager are two popular apps that help you keep record of your garden.
There are several ways to journal your garden. Find one that works best for you and start keeping records this month.