Keeping a Garden Journal

Garden Journal Book by Midwest Gardening.JPG

Recording garden information in a journal can be valuable for both beginner and experienced gardeners

We always think we will remember exactly what we planted where in our gardens.  But the one thing 15 years ago that  I did not record I am still trying to identify!  I want more so badly and no one has been able to figure out what is was from photos.  But aside from the varieties that we have planted, there is so much more information that can help you be more efficient and effective with your gardens.

Your journal can be simple or fancy.  It is more important that you organize your journal according to your needs.  A basic notebook or three ring binder works just fine.  Of course you can purchase a journal already formatted for general use.  If you are just getting started gardening a simple notebook to record everything might be the best way to start.  Eventually you will want to organize something more personal.  If you have never kept a garden journal, considering some of the many ideas for organization and what to record will help you to set up the best system for your gardens.  Just be sure to keep it simple enough to maintain year after year.  Complicated systems are often abandoned.

Journal Supply Ideas

Let ease of use, size of your gardens and your personal preferences guide your selection of garden journal supplies.  Remember that you will likely take your journal with you to the gardens, so perhaps you will want it to be splash and mud resistant.  And you don’t want things falling out of the journal so make sure you don’t have to just slip things between pages.  These are some items to consider using to organize your information.

  • Computer spreadsheet

  • Computer or phone app journal

  • Basic spiral notebook

  • 3 ring binder with plastic sleeves

  • Bound system that allows for adding and moving pages

  • Purchase garden journal pre organized

Additional items that can help you organize the information:

  • Calendar pages

  • Graph paper for garden layouts

  • Pocket pages or small envelopes affixed to pages to save plant tags or receipts

  • Photo sleeves to save seed packets

  • Permanent markers to make nots on plastic sleeves

What to Track in a Garden Journal

  • Spring and Fall frost dates

  • Property sketch including notation of sun in each season, wind and heat exposure

  • Exact plant varieties purchased, date, price and source

  • Specific planting location of each variety

  • Flowering times to plan continuous blooms

  • Garden plans, layouts and adjustments

  • Plant performance, success and failure

  • List of aggressive  or disease prone plants to avoid

  • List of plants to add in the future, where and why

  • Plant maintenance schedules

  • Plant division schedules and records

  • To Do Next Year! notes

  • Planting dates and harvest schedules for vegetables

  • Vegetable bed layout each year to track rotation

  • Pruning schedules for shrubs and trees

  • Plant performance and weather influences on performance each year

  • Maintenance notes including soil amendments, fertilizing, pruning

  • Record of insect and disease problems and effectiveness of actions

  • Plant costs (totals may be shocking!)

  • Maintenance supply costs

  • Photos of each garden area in different seasons and as it progresses each year

Organizing Formats for your Garden Journal

  • New journal each year with running information

  • Subject Sections i.e.; seeds, plants, maintenance, photos…..

  • Garden areas subdivided into subject sections

  • Card/recipe card files

With a little thought and experimentation you will figure out the best method for you. I use a journal my sons gave me one Mother’s Day. I organize by garden areas and log everything by year within the sections. Affixing plant tags and catalog clippings of plants ordered makes it quick and easy with a visual reference to all my plants. I leave room to make some notes about performance. I try to keep things neat, but things get a little messy sometimes in a busy spring. It’s all in there somewhere though!

Garden Journal by Midwest Gardening.JPG

Experiment with plant positioning with removable sheets

Garden Journal Garden Notes by Midwest Gardening.JPG

Identify where everything is planted

Garden Journal pages by Midwest Gardening.JPG

Note problems and changes for next year

GardenJournal by Midwest Gardening.JPG

Tape in catalog descriptions and make notes

Sharon DwyerComment