Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Garden Journal by Sheilia Canada

Fall is a perfect time to get your garden more organized with a Garden Journal. With the falling of the leaves it is a lot easier to see the structure and dimensions of your garden area. Your plants successes and failures during the growing season are still fresh in your mind.
Mapping out specific annual crops for proper crop rotation is highly important to elimination of a recurrence of disease or insect issues.
Making a record of what happened every growing season will definitely help you get a closer look at all of the interactions going on in your garden.

What You'll Need to make your own Garden Journal
You can include or exclude, any of the materials listed. I've included the purpose of each material, so you can decide if you need it or not.
  • Material for front and back covers. I suggest a 3 ring binder.
  • A calendar to keep track of planting times
  • A planting schedule or farmers almanac
  • Graph paper for your overall garden plan and individual garden bed plans
  • Full-page vinyl pocket pages, 3-hole punched, for articles
  • Vinyl pocket pages with up to 4 pockets, for multiple pictures or seed packets, 3-hole punched
  • 3-hole punched lined paper for notes
  • Tabbed dividers - monthly if you plan to keep your journal in date order, or blank for you to design your own dividers
  • Something to keep your pen and pencil in, while you're in the garden
  • Different colours of paper for different seasons, or for different purposes, as you wish, making it easier to find things if your journal will be extensive
  • Journal paper - this can be plain white, lined, or designer stationery, formatted or unformatted - this is what you will use for your notes.
What to Record
You can record as much, or as little as you want, in your garden journal. Just make sure it's a fun activity, rather than a chore. Some suggestions for the kinds of information you may want to include are:
  • planting dates for seeds and plants
  • transplanting dates
  • source and cost for plants and seeds
  • any guarantees and location of bills (if needed)
  • weather particulars such as rainfall, frost dates and results
  • plant characteristics, date of germination, date they emerge in spring, appearance of blooms
  • date of harvest (for vegetables) or cut flowers taken
  • date and type of fertilizer or other chemicals applied, and to which plants
  • Observations, zone & sector analysis.
  • Begin with a rough hand-drawn garden plan, laying out your garden beds. I suggest one plan for the front yard, and a second for the back yard. Do a third plan if you have substantial side yards.
  • Transfer the individual beds on your main plan to separate pieces of paper, and tackle each bed individually. It breaks up the task, and lets you actually accomplish something.
  • Map groupings of plants, rather than individual plants, and make it really rough. You can do more detailed, scaled versions later.
  • If you plan to keep records on each plant or type of plant, you'll want to create a separate page for each plant species in your garden, and record where they're located as well as their descriptions, proper names, and as much information as you now know about them. Begin with a separate page for each, and fill them in later.
  • Take pictures of plants. If you have a digital camera, it's a lot less costly over time, and you can take pictures willy-nilly, then cull them out later. Otherwise, at least take pictures when they're in full bloom.
  • Record your activities, including creation of the journal.
Some Helpful Garden Journal Sections
You may find it helpful to divide your garden journal into sections. As with all the other choices you'll make regarding your journal, your choice of sections depends on how much information you plan to keep. Think about the gardening information you currently keep, and why you might consider a change. Then consider how to achieve this. Here are some possibilities to choose from.

Tips for Keeping a Garden Journal
When writing notes in your garden journal, go beyond the basics of what you planted and where and the general performance of your plants. Include what or who inspired your plant choices, how you used and shared your harvests, memories of time spent in your garden, what creatures co-inhabit your space, how you would do something differently, or why you wouldn’t change a thing…
  • Include beautiful images, such as drawings, photos, seed catalog clippings, etc., in your journal. Choose something that captures your garden and your creativity! Imagery in a journal deepens your connection with what you are growing by allowing you to place your attention on all the details of a plant. You will come to know your garden in a new way, through the eyes of an artist.
  • Let your journal evolve over time; start simple and add more elements as you desire. Consider including: weather patterns and how they affected your plants; maintenance & care notes regarding watering, fertilizing, mulching, and treating pests and disease; light observations from season to season, and morning to evening; and successes as well as challenges.
  • Include a wish list for your garden in your journal; make a note of that potting bench you’re dreaming of, or the drip irrigation system that will change your life. Writing down these dreams and goals can help you manifest them. Clip pictures of gardens that inspire you and tuck them into an envelope affixed to one of your journal pages.
As a general rule, it's a lot easier to get started and keep motivated as you begin your journal, if you split big tasks into a lot of manageable little tasks.

I hope your Garden Journal will help you relax and enjoy your garden projects and inspire you to create new ones!
I have found that taking the time to sit and observe and record what is going on in my gardens has made me a wiser and more in tune gardener. I hope your Garden Journal will help you feel at peace when you think about and are actively working or simply enjoying your garden.