Keeping a garden journal

Want to increase your gardening productivity in just a couple minutes per day? Keeping a simple garden journal can greatly increase your gardening success! | areturntosimplicity.comGardening is food for my soul.

Well actually, it’s how we produce a large portion of our food each year, but I do it out of  the pure love of having my hands in the soil.

However, we do need to eat, and that means the gardens need to produce a large harvest each season.

A garden journal is one of the easiest and most effective ways I have increased my gardening success each year.

Basically, you just take a couple minutes each day to jot down a few key notes, and use it as a reference later on.

I suggest having an actual notebook that you use only for this purpose, or if you keep a journal already, you can add the garden journal notes in there as well. (It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just an inexpensive journal or notepad will work!)

The things I find most helpful to document are:

  • Planting dates and amounts I planted
  • Sketched diagrams of where I planted things
  • Specific variety of seed/plant I planted. ie “Heirloom Bonnie beefsteak tomatoes”
  • Weather (sunny/cloudy, rainy/dry, high/low temp, depending on the season.)
  • How much I have to water the garden. (I use water from our rain barrels, and water with a 2 gallon watering can, so I know exactly how much I use each time)
  • When plants are ready to harvest, and when they finish producing
  • Exactly how much I end up harvesting and preserving.
  • How much money I spend on garden related purchases. (Lime, seeds, stakes, etc)
  • I also like to record how much bulk produce or fruit I get, so that I can see how it lasts each year. Like how many bushels of apples I get from the orchard, or pounds of strawberries I pick from a farm.

Depending on the time of year, a garden journal entry might look something like this:

July 12, 2014
Hot, very humid, high around 95 degrees. Picked enough green beans for supper, a basket full of zucchini, and another basket of tomatoes. Harvested 10 large onions and left them out to dry. Froze 4 quarts of grated zucchini, and 2 quarts of chopped zucchini. Saving the tomatoes for a couple days until I get enough to can. Watered the garden with 8 gallons in the evening.

OR, it could look like this some days:

July 13, 2014
Cloudy and humid. Low 90’s. Picked a few cucumbers and pulled a few weeds. 
 

Nothing too detailed, just record the basics, then you can use the data the next year. Here are a few ways I used the info this year.

  • This spring, I couldn’t remember how many tomato plants I needed to plant, so I looked up last year’s notes and found that I didn’t have enough tomatoes to can last year, but I had WAY too many tiny cherry tomatoes. So, I increased my large tomato plants, and planted fewer cherry tomato plants.
  • I was worried that my green beans were not doing well, so I looked up the date that they began producing last year. They were a few days behind, but I also compared the weather, and this year had a significantly cooler spring than last year, so it was pretty normal for them to be a bit behind.
  • I knew that I wanted to get around the same amount of strawberries I picked last year, but freeze more and make less jam. So, I looked up how many pounds I picked, and how much I turned into jam last year, and went from there.

I have a pretty decent memory, (as long as I’m not pregnant!) but I don’t always remember the little things, like how many onions I planted last year, and whether it was enough to last us through the year.

Here are the plans I used for my raised beds in 2014. Notice that you do not have to have any artistic skills to create a sketch of how you want to plant your garden!! My only goal was to have a rough idea of where I wanted things to go., and this is pretty much how my garden ended up being planted.

Want to increase your gardening productivity in just a couple minutes per day? Keeping a simple garden journal can greatly increase your gardening success! | areturntosimplicity.com

 

I find that the couple minutes it takes to jot down daily notes seriously pays off for me the next year!

Want to increase your gardening productivity in just a couple minutes per day? Keeping a simple garden journal can greatly increase your gardening success! | areturntosimplicity.com

This post has been shared at Tuesdays With a Twist, Down Home Blog Hop, The Home Acre Hop, From the Farm Hop, Old Fashioned Fridays, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Maple Hill hopWildcrafting Wednesday, and The Art of Homemaking

  
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16 responses to “Keeping a garden journal”

  1. Kelly-Anne says:

    Oh, this post has been so helpful – thank you so very much for sharing! I’m going to get myself a journal and begin recording!! Blessings, Kelly-Anne

  2. Great post! I haven’t kept a garden journal in years – not because I don’t need one, but because I always think I don’t have time…then wish, later, that I had.

    • Angi says:

      Thanks! I feel the same way sometimes, and I totally have to remind myself that it really only takes a couple minutes. 🙂

  3. Sherry says:

    Oh what a great idea! I really miss having garden! I think I would love visiting you again. I’ll check your follow option!

  4. Sarah C. says:

    Good for you! I have a garden journal too but I cant seem to manage being as detailed as you. I have my garden map and the numbers of each plant. I have given up on counting the harvest and will have to plan next year based on a gut feeling of whether we need more or less.
    I am adding notes on what seems to do well (like Red Kuri Squash) and what doesn’t (like fava beans) so I have something more qualitative when the planning process beings again this winter.
    I really like some of your ideas and will see what I can do to incorporate them and be more regular in my note taking!

    • Angi says:

      I think any notes you make can help a lot. I just do what works for me, and it sounds like yours is working well for you too! I’m pretty generalized when it comes to actually “counting” my harvest anyway. I mostly take specific notes on how much I preserve, and don’t worry about exactly how many tomatoes or zucchini I pick each day.

  5. JES says:

    I love looking at peoples garden journals, very inspirational. I like the notes that you leave also. This makes for a fun memory for the future generations. Thanks for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Please join us again next week…

  6. Heather says:

    Great idea. This is our first year gardening at our new home, so I can see where a journal would be very beneficial. Have a wonderful day, Heather

  7. Megan Austin says:

    This was so good for me to read!! Thank you for giving specific examples – that always helps me understand things better. I would love a post about how to plan a garden to feed a family – like how many tomato plants should I plant for 2 adults and a toddler? I know this can all vary depending on the family but I would love to hear How much yall plant!! Love the blog!

    • Angi says:

      Hi Megan! I am keeping close track of how much I am planting this year, to see exactly how much a family of four really needs of each vegetable, but I do talk about it some here, and I have two great links that are helping me plan! –>areturntosimplicity.com/planning-permaculture-garden/
      If your little guy is anything like mine, you can just plan on amounts for 3 people. Finn eats almost as much as I do now!

  8. Thelma Day says:

    What a nice idea. I do a lot of gardening and I make sketches of flowers when I planted them last fall. ex. Sunflowers.
    I should and probably will keep a journal like you do. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Margy says:

    I keep more of a log than a journal, but I do look back to previous years to see when things happened. I also keep separate logs of birds, animals, and weather. – Margy

  10. RMAU says:

    Keeping a garden journal really is an important part of the gardening process. You will be surprised how much you forget about the details at the beginning of the season.

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