I have gardened for years. In all the years I have gardened, it never crossed my mind to keep a gardening book. Why keep a garden journal you may ask? I asked myself this same question. In my research, I decided that I needed to make a garden journal to help me keep track of what I planted, particularly the perennials and bulbs, and any problems I came upon as the season progressed. As I am an artist, I decided to sketch out my garden journal. If you have not heard this before, sketching is very therapeutic. You do not need to be a fantastic artist. This book is for you, by you. You can also buy ready-made garden journals if that is more to your liking.
You could use a sketchbook to create beautiful artwork to go along with your notes. A three-ring binder with dividers is another way. There are a variety of places on the internet to get downloadable pages you can add to your notebook. There are a plethora of garden planning apps for your phone available on your phone’s app store. You can have all the information at your fingertips while in the garden. I am testing several of the apps out to see which one feels best for me to use.
The sketch garden book I am creating is my reference journal if you will. I am putting in a list of plants that I planted. I added in the journal about plant diseases I should look for. It is has become a great place to keep track of the insect and diseases that have developed this year, so I can plan for next year’s plants and be proactive about how to deal with them. By being observant and keeping a garden journal, you will discover:
What grows well and what does not. If I grow a plant that the books say should do well and it does not, I want to know why. As I am recording my successes and failures during the season, I have a better place to start next year.
I want to know what animals, pests, and diseases pop up in the garden, so I know which ones beneficial and which ones are not. Through this process, I learned I could use ladybugs to kill aphids. I also discovered that every year in my front and backyard, I have an abundance of praying mantis. Also, I discovered that I get hit every year with grasshoppers. They can destroy your entire garden in a matter of a few days.
One of the many things I deal with in the garden is, it is very windy all summer long. Some winds hit 50 mph. Because of the winds, I must stake most of my plants to protect them from snapping. I also have clay for dirt in my yard, not uncommon for this area. Most of my plants do not like clay soil. I have learned that I must add clay busting additives to the garden, and constantly add compost to build up to healthy soil. I also use wicking pots to grow my vegetables due to the high winds. I use the water to help weigh down the pots to keep them from being blown over. I also use a water meter to help me to not under or over water the plants.
By keeping this garden journal, I can make note of when the grasshoppers show up each year, and then I can better prepare for them. This year I was hit hard with spotted mold on all of my zucchini plants. It was very humid this year. Being observant and keeping notes all summer helps me to be a better gardener.
During the growing season, if I keep up with the health of my garden, I can increase my harvest. Last year I grew a couple of tomatoes and no zucchini at all. The first thing I did this year was to grow more than one variety of tomato and tripled how many plants that I planted. I had to move the plants around this year to find the best place to put all of the plants. The tomato and zucchini plants I tripled how many I planted this year over last year. To experiment this year with the type of plants and how well they grow, I bought 3 zucchini plants and grew the rest from seed. I wanted to see which I would have more success with. Growing the plants from seed worked the best this year in my garden.
It is a pleasure to go out and sit in my garden each day. I listen to the wind in the trees while watching the squirrels running up and down the trees and playing in my garden. At the many bird feeders in my yard, I have birds dropping by all day. You can hear the bees zipping around going from flower to flower doing the pollinating for me. To help the bees out I have added a bee hotel to help them through the winter.
Last night for dinner we enjoyed eating green beans from my garden. It is so satisfying to eat what you grow.
These are some of the topics I have so far in my garden book.
Title of the book
When to plant vegetable plants
A sketch of the layout of my patio garden. (I moved things around so this sketch is not accurate )
Sketch of my front entrance so I know what I planted for next year.
What to put in my compost
A to-do list in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. A page for each season
Plants to plant to attract bees
Plants to grow to make my teas
How to grow an Avocado tree. Even though I cannot grow these outside year-round here.
A page on why my plants’ leaves are turning yellow.
I have so much more I will be adding this year to my garden journal. I hope you enjoyed the idea of a garden journal.
Be safe, Be healthy!