Master Gardener: Start a garden journal | Lifestyles

If you don’t have a garden journal, strongly consider starting one in 2023.

Having an up-to-date journal allows you to have a record of your gardening activities from year to year. With the gardening season coming to an end, it’s time to put together your garden thoughts and dreams for the winter months.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea all winter long and reflect, organize, and plan for the coming season. Journaling will make you happy because you can see your successes and failures and create actionable plans for spring.

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson made notes about his garden in 1766? His diary was about the first crops he planted in Virginia, the weather conditions, and his experiments with vegetables and fruits.

Journaling is obviously nothing new and may sound like a lot of work, but once you set up a template and organize it up front (the hard part), all it takes is 10-15 minutes to reflect and jot down notes. is. Regularly.

If you decide that journaling is right for you, there are many ways to choose from: notebooks, pen and paper, a store-bought garden journal, or even a mobile phone with a note-taking app. You can also use your phone’s camera or computer to prepare Excel spreadsheets and other programs.

How about a 3-ring binder with dividers and plastic photo sleeves? Store instruction manuals, receipts, shrub and tree warranties, plant tags, seed packets, pressed flowers, leaves, calendar pages and graph paper.

You can also use a few different approaches. For example, you can use your notebook when you’re in the garden and your computer when you have time to get down to more details.

You need to decide which type of format will work best to help you in your garden. It’s your record keeping system.

It doesn’t matter if you type words into a calendar or into an Excel spreadsheet. that’s what works for you.

Once you have your template ready, it should be fun, efficient, and most importantly help you improve your garden.

Here is a list of items you might want to track in your garden journal.

n A good place to start is a garden bed drawing. Include diagrams, photos, and dimensions.

It doesn’t have to be exact. Estimate is OK. If that’s too overwhelming for you because you have several gardens, sketch a small section of the garden and add it to your journal for different sessions and seasons.

n Each year we record the zone’s spring thaw and first freeze date. Track weather trends and the most important weather-related information such as temperature, humidity and rainfall.

n List plants such as herbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. If you don’t know the name of the plant, you can always look it up later.

It would be ideal if you could list both common and scientific names for all plants. You can record planting dates, flowering times for houseplants, and harvest dates for herbs and vegetables.

You can also record seed initiation activity, such as the number of seeds and seedlings required for the season. You can record planting and harvesting dates.

Both are important pieces of information. Additionally, you should always save the seed packet or plant identification label in a page protector or envelope with the date of planting.

n You can create daily, weekly and yearly observations and task sections in your journal. You can record garden maintenance activities, soil tests, fertilization dates, and composting dates.

Want to keep track of your garden to-do list? This serves as a good reminder for the upcoming days, weeks, months, and seasons.

n The resources you need for your garden can become separate sections of your journal. You should have sections for plant sources from nurseries, online catalogs, and names of companies that buy soil, mulch, stone, and more.

The name, address, email, website, and phone number of the source should be printed. You can also track your online orders and deliveries via the journal.

Placing articles and catalog pages in page protectors and 3-ring binders is also a great way to preserve information.

n Every gardener faces adversity, so keeping track of pest problems and disease outbreaks is extremely valuable. It’s a great way to track these issues and save the solutions for future use.

If you use chemicals, be sure to describe the type, amount, and method of use in your journal.

You should also record which plants grew well and which did not. This will help you optimize the types of plants you use in your garden.

n Your journal should have a New Ideas section for your garden. This includes improvements you’d like to consider, things you’ve noticed, and new plants to consider for future seasons. must be

n Don’t forget the budget section of your journal. A garden journal is a great way to track your spending and make sure you’re staying within your budget.

n The average gardener uses multiple approaches to journaling. Lists, photos, handwritten notes, computers, etc.

Consider a note-taking app for your phone. The app has folders and subfolders to make searching easier.

The University of North Carolina Cooperative Extension has an online journal available in the North Carolina Extension Gardener’s Handbook. There are also many magazines available for purchase online.

As you can see, the amount and variety of information you can collect in your garden journal is incredible and can be a little overwhelming.

A garden journal can be anything you want, from simple to extreme. Our goal is to make your gardening experience more satisfying and enjoyable.

Whether you’re writing in a beautiful journal or composition notebook, taking pictures with your phone or camera, working with spreadsheets on your computer, or taking notes on your phone, there’s plenty of data, photos, and drawings to help you. to improve your garden every year.

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Have a question about gardening?

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