One of the many joys of gardening is looking back and seeing where you came from. From barren weedy lot to perennial beds bursting with color, you put the work in and it shows.
By keeping a garden journal you will be able to keep track of your progress from year to year and you’ll have a record you can constantly refer to when planning your garden in the future.
Many gardeners spend a pleasant winter’s evening going back over their past garden journals, not just as a planning tool, but for sheer amusement. To paraphrase Socrates, the unexamined garden is not worth growing.
With all the fancy scrapbooking accessories available, it is easy to go overboard and be overwhelmed with the innumerable amount of information and decorations you could include in your journal. You can also keep your journal online as a blog or website or stored on your own computer. We suggest you keep it simple. Here is a list of things you can include in your journal.
Step 1: Make a general information page. List your zone, frost date, soil test results, local Master Gardener hotline numbers, and anything else you will be referring to frequently.
Step 2: Keep a page for each month of the year. List on it what chores need to be done, what plants are in bloom, and any other incidental observations you may have.
Step 3: Insert pages for plants purchased. If they are mail-order purchases, cut out the catalog photos and descriptions and paste those in. If locally purchased or grown-from-seed, staple the plant tags or seed packs to your pages. Leave space for future notes on where you planted these new purchases and how they did.
Step 4: Cut out and/or print out useful magazine articles and either paste them in, hole-punch them, or insert into clear page protectors.
Step 5: Make a chart for seeds started. Draw columns for the plant name, seed starting date, outdoor sowing date, and any notes.
Step 6: Use graph or blank paper to map out beds and draw plantings.
Step 7: Set aside one page for bird sightings and other creatures that visit your garden. Note what they were, how many, time and date seen. Add photos if you take any.
Step 8: Devote a page to a “wish list.” Plants you’d like to buy. Projects you are contemplating. Paste in magazine photos and ideas.
Step 9: Take a few pages for an “inspiration” section. Quotes and poems you liked. Plant combinations you saw in a neighbor’s garden. Gardening books you’d like to read.
The “how” of keeping a garden journal is not that difficult. Just pull out some blank paper and write. The hard part may be in finding the time to do so. Try scheduling in a regular appointment in your calendar to do some garden journal entries. Just 15 minutes a week can be plenty and you’ll be thankful in the years to come for all of the knowledge you have stored.
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This is a monthly blog series on DIY projects for the beginning home gardener. Look for the other installments in this DIY blog series by putting "DIY" in the search box here at washingtongardener.blogspot.