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3 Reasons You Should Keep a Multi-year Gardener’s Journal | Organic Gardening 365
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3 Reasons You Should Keep a Multi-year Gardener’s Journal

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In the first post of this series on Timeless Gardening Tips, I encouraged you to think about the reasons you are gardening organically and what your objectives are.

The next several posts are about planning your garden and keeping track of what you do.

Best time to plan your garden.

So, I’ve got a question for you: When do you actually plan your garden?

Most people start planning their garden sometime in the late winter or early spring in one fell swoop of excitement. But if you want a more productive garden, you can’t do it all at once and you can’t wait til spring.

You should always be thinking about your next growing season.

Even if it’s the middle of this year’s garden or the dead of winter, you can be tinkering with new ideas to try, new varieties to plant, and new gardening techniques.

OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tip #2: To help the planning process and keep a record of your success and lessons learned, it’s incredibly helpful to keep a multi-year Gardener’s Journal.

You can do this online or in a good old-fashioned notebook or scrapbook you can hold in your hand.

Why keep a journal?

There are three over-arching reasons.

1. Keep track of your goals and plans: When you record your goals and plans for your garden, it helps keep you focused so you don’t waste time running around uncertain what to do next.

Two of the first things you should include in your journal are your reasons for gardening organically and your goals.

Then come up with a plan and design for your garden and write it down. Sketch it out. And do it in pencil. You will probably change your ideas umpteen times.

There were several years a while back when I didn’t really have a plan for my garden. I would just go to the nursery and sort of guess how many tomato plants to buy.

I would just order what ever looked good in the catalogs. And sometimes I would way over-order my seeds.

I didn’t have a specific goal or a plan on how to get there. Come planting time, I was so confused and it took me twice as long to get the garden going. Not fun.

2. Keep track of what you do: Your Gardener’s Journal is the perfect place to write down what you planted, when and where you planted it, where you bought it.

Many years ago I grew the best tomatoes I have ever had. But I didn’t keep a journal that year and did not write down the source or the variety. Man, oh man, I wish I’d written down what kind of tomatoes they were and where I got them so I could order those seeds again!

3. Keep track of your results: How did your garden perform? Write it down. What lessons did you learn? What worked; what didn’t work? Write it all down.

When we first moved into our house 20 years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a ten-year gardening journal. I LOVED it. I could see what I did from year to year and compare notes. It gave me a wonderful overview of my garden’s life and how I evolved as a gardener.

What to include in your Gardener’s Journal

There’s a wide variety of things you can keep track of in your multi-year garden journal.

You can organize it however you want, but you’ll need sections for your goals, planning, resources, what you did, your results and things you learned along the way, and…

Here are a few ideas:

  • As mentioned above , your motivation and goals for gardening organically. How much food do you really want to grow?
  • Garden design ideas and changes you’ve made
  • The varieties you planted this year and where (in case you need to rotate crops)
  • Sources for plants, tools, etc.
  • Your favorite catalogs
  • Resources: books, websites, blogs, businesses, etc. that are helpful
  • The packing slips or invoices from your seed/plant/tool order are a great record of what you bought and the source.  (And in case you need to return something, you know right where the receipt is.)
  • Warranties for any tools or gardening equipment. Some catalogs and nurseries have guarantees for their plants.
  • What worked and what didn’t and the lessons you learned
  • Things you want to try next year (write them down now so you won’t forget. Sometimes I’ve had great ideas when I’m working in the garden and think I’ll remember but, alas, ‘tis not always so.)
  • Take pictures of your garden and what you want to remember (your kids “working” in the garden, for example, or successful harvests)
  • Clippings from magazines or links to websites with ideas you want to try
  • How much you harvested of everything you grew (compare from one year to the next)
  • An estimate of how much it would have cost you to buy everything you grew.
  • Neighbors’ comments (I wish I had done this years ago)
  • Recipe ideas (yummmm)

If you have any other ideas, let me know.

And of course, as your goals or objectives change over the years, always write them down.

As you look back over the years, you’ll see the bigger picture of all you have accomplished, the lessons learned and you’ll be reminded of your wonderful successes in the garden.

And that will trigger even more new ideas for next year.

How do you keep track of things?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts below in the comment section. Do you already keep a Gardener’s Journal? Go to my Facebook page Organic Gardening 365  and post a picture of it. I’d love to see it.

To the increased fruits (and vegetables) of your labors,

James Early
Organic Gardening 365
Dedicated to helping you get the most out of your organic garden all year long

P.S.  For the complete series of OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tips, click here.


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