I have kept a garden journal since 2008. I usually start in the dead of winter (when I am dreaming of being outside) by writing down what I hope to plant in the coming Spring. I always start out overly ambitious with a full page or two of fruits and veggies and end up planting about a fourth of that winter-induced insanity. We all know how much surplus a garden can make and after this past year of slipping tomatoes and zucchini in people’s parked cars, I am doubly thankful I cut back.
I revisit my journal during planting time and write down everything that I have chosen to go in the garden. I usually include specifics, like when I planted, where I planted, and anything I have tried differently than the year before. For example, in 2009, I tried mulching between rows and realized I had made a very rookie mistake in 2008 when I had not. There are tips like, “Harvest beets when they are as big as golf balls for maximum flavor” and “Keep mulch 2 inches from plant stems” that I have found online or in magazines and written in my journal, hoping that the act of writing them down would help me remember to follow them. I also include stories, like the year when Jake and I were tilling up the plot and unearthed a rolling mass of black snakes that were hibernating. He didn’t help me much after that and from that day forward I catch myself wondering what is lying directly below wherever I am standing.
Sometimes, I make notes during the growing season, but for the most part I write in the journal at the beginning and end. I make note of what worked fabulously and what didn't. That maybe I should not plant three cherry tomato plants next year and that I should look into a few more herbs. One note this year states NOT to plant the cucumber plant directly in front of the gate door……you would of thought…..but no.
My journal is just a spiral bound, chipboard cover notebook. You could use anything. Dress a plain journal up fancy or buy a journal geared toward gardeners. You can find dozens on Etsy or Amazon. Write all willy nilly like I do or divide your journal into sections. Maybe you want to list the top 3 garden goals for the year or garden tools you want and need. Maybe you want to plot out the garden or write inspiring quotes throughout. Include pictures or don’t. It doesn't matter because the essence of the journal is to give you a reason to sit back and remember, admire, and dream about that lovely time spent tinkering in your little green paradise.