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Creating a Garden Journal

By on January 22, 2007

Planning ahead with a garden journal can save you time and money. Are you planning for the upcoming gardening season? Starting a garden journal now, will serve as a reference later, on what worked well and what didn’t in your garden. You can record information, such as where and when you planted seeds, pruning and fertilizing schedules, wildlife sightings, garden supply resources, pictures, and personal notes and ideas.

You can make your own simple journal, purchase one, or use software to log all of your information. It’s a great tool to use to reflect on how your garden has changed too.

Choosing a Journal

There are many journal options. You should decide what best suits your gardening style and needs. Some people will want a journal that is practical and functional, while others will want a fancier keepsake. Some gardeners enjoy using software and spreadsheets and some use calendars.

The following are some examples for you to decide on:

Homemade Spiral Bound- You can decorate a plain composition book. You can add manila folders or staple a document envelope for any loose papers you want to organize.

Shoebox or container- A great way to organize your seeds, as well as serving as a central place for all your garden information you’d like to save.

Homemade Binder with Printable Pages- Inexpensive and practical. Can customize it to contain what you want.
http://www.homesteadgarden.com/printable-garden-journal.html
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/home/orl-db-plantprofiles-pdf-createyourgarden_journal,0,1876896.htmlstory?coll=orl-utility-homegarden

Hardcovered Store Bought- Beautiful illustrations. Don’t have to assemble. Great gift idea.
Gardeners Five Year Journal
My Green Thumb Gardening Organizer

Software- Paperless so doesn’t take up any additional space. Added features like data analysis and easy search.
http://www.primasoft.com/deluxeprg/goodx.htm
http://www.mygardenjournal.com/
http://www.gardentracker.com/

Spreadsheets- Great for straightforward organization of information. Easy to update and print.
http://www.yougrowgirl.com/grow/seedstartingchart_lazy.php

Online Garden Planners- You can blog or use an online planner that allows you to save information and journal too.

What to Journal

You can create a journal that is as basic or as elaborate as you want.

The following are ideas that you can log:

Weather (frosts, droughts, rainfall)
Locations of plantings
Seed packet information
Seed starting dates and germination
Photos
Garden Quotes
Garden catalog pages
Newspaper clippings
Recipes
Bird and wildlife sightings
List what’s blooming and when
Perennial division dates
Receipts for plants
Magazine clippings
Book Lists
Websites
Wishlist
Hints and tips
Contact list and notes on suppliers.
Chore list

A homemade binder is practical and functional to use as a journal. It’s incredibly frugal to make it yourself too.

Here are some tips to help you create one:

Use a three ring binder with plastic insert covers. You can then add your own personalized touch to the cover.
Add pocket pages, as well as tabbed dividers. This works well for clippings and receipts. You can divide your binder into months.
Use printables
Add graph paper to plan and draw your designs.
Photo album sleeves to protect your photos
Lined paper to write notes or musings.
Pencil/pen case

Your journal can serve as a conversation piece when you have garden guests. It becomes not only a great tool, but a record of history. It can be a cherished memento or thoughtful heirloom to give to a loved one.

Starting a garden journal during the winter months can help you pass the time until spring.

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle …
a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.
And the anticipation nurtures our dream” -Barbara Winkler

*Editor’s note You might also be interested in Gardenscape on a Shoestring.

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

14 Comments

  1. Michelle S.

    1/23/2007 at 1:15 pm

    I always have the best of intentions to start one of these. I seem to run out of time yearly. This year, I will start early. I can’t believe gardening season is right around the corner. Last year I drew a diagram of my front porch area and labeled the bulbs that I planted. It was really helpful when things started popping up, and I couldn’t remember what they were. That was the extent of my gardening journaling for that year LOL

    Last year we started seeds under Dave’s LED grow lights. We’re planning to do that again this year as we had great success with the plants.

    I need to research some new things that I’d like to try planting this year (eg lettuce and potatoes) to see if they’re possible.

    I love the idea of having a record to show future generations. Sorta like a scrapbook of my garden vs. my family. :-)

    I’m going to check out the software versions as I’d prefer not to have the paper clutter (already struggle with that enough here lol), but I will also print the sheets from Homestead Garden too.

  2. PrairieRose

    1/24/2007 at 9:44 pm

    My Gripey has already purchased all the makings of this. He’s jazzed to get it going. Just a couple of days ago he said “I wish I knew which variety of tomato that is”…as we have 2 plants in the pump house that he is wintering over and they are actually bearing (!). If he had had his journal up and running when he planted last year he would have known that. It’s a great idea for lots of reasons. We have a tomato virus in a certain part of our garden and he is ‘resting’ that area. The journal will help with keeping track with how long he’s let it go unplanted, etc… to experiment with. I’m sure it will be a valuable tool for his garden.

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  4. Steven Wilson

    2/14/2007 at 4:32 pm

    It is great of you to mention the use of a garden journal here.It is one of the most overlooked tools that a gardener can use,and one of the cheapest.It cost nothing more than a spiral notebook,pencil,and a moment of time.

    I really like your site here it is full of some very useful,and frugal tips.Living frugal is not just a way of life,but a way that makes since in today’s economy.

    Steven Wilson

  5. AheeK

    2/17/2007 at 11:29 pm

    This was an awesome post. If you’re serious about gardening, this is one of the most important tools at your disposal. A lot of people can remember what they planted and where from last year, but what about three years ago? Or five? Or ten? Keeping good records can do a lot to help your garden be successful.

  6. mom23boys

    2/18/2007 at 6:51 pm

    Every spring I have good intentions to grow a garden. We even started one a few years, but we have not been very successful. I think a garden journal would be a great idea because then I can review it to see why things are working…the weather, the soil, etc.

  7. Maggi

    2/19/2007 at 11:41 am

    Sara this is such a great article. I’m not a good gardener. I have planted before and done ok. I’ve always wanted to do this. We have clay and dirt. I have a very nice hillside I thought about growing strawberries since we enjoy them so much. I always wanted to know how to grow herbs in my house. I think this would be a great start.
    I already have a journal for personal use. But this would be nice for my kids. So they could use it later in their lives to see what I tried and didn’t work when planting, recipes. The birds we saw.
    I’m going to go get me a new binder.

  8. emily_hope

    2/19/2007 at 11:38 pm

    I so need to do this. I get so discouraged. I do not have a green thumb. I need to start collecting some data. Thanks.

  9. monkeywrangler71

    2/20/2007 at 1:51 am

    I am planning to make yet another attempt at gardening this year and I was thinking I should have some kind of journal. I thought I would just make notes in a little day planner about planting dates, harvest dates, etc. It never occurred to me to note the types of plants and how well they do, or diagrams, or most of the other stuff that’s been mentioned. Maybe I should be using a binder instead.

    I actually feel kind of overwhelmed by the whole gardening idea. It just feels like such a huge project that I have no clue how to start.

  10. Darlene

    2/20/2007 at 2:59 pm

    Great ideas! Right now all my tags & pkgs from last years garden are sitting in a large basket along with all the tags from my perrenials I’ve been collecting over the years.
    Just think if I mapped out what perennials I planted where I could readily come up with those names that somehow escape me when someone asks “What’s that?” Ummm…err…
    I did make out some markers on plastic sticks and used permanant marker to write on them but they faded. Time to get organized.

  11. Robin

    2/24/2007 at 9:26 am

    This is a great idea I hadn’t even thought about. I just moved into a new home in December. We have a nice big yard with an area I have plans for a garden (vegetable, flower, herbs). It is going to take years to make it into my “dream garden”.

    A journal to track my progress through each year, will not only be an organizational/reference tool but a keepsake to look back on.

    Ok, I am off to decide on what to use as my journal. Hey- maybe I’ll put some of my scrapbooking supplies to use on this project.

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  13. Stella

    3/5/2007 at 11:30 pm

    We just started our first garden this weekend. I am so excited! This weekend I am going to sit down with the seed packets and write everything down. There are already some seeds that are not sprouting, I want to be sure NOT to buy the same ones next year. I think this will come in handy for next years plantings..trial/error.

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