Why Start a Garden Journal?

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by brenda on June 10, 2020

Last night I spent time outside planting zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and dill. Then, I spent an equal amount of time at my kitchen table, journaling what I had planted. This may seem awfully tedious to you, and you might wonder why in the world would I JOURNAL about my gardening? Let me explain.

Why You Should Create a Garden Journal

Keeping Track of What You Plant

I use little plastic plant tags like these with a sharpie, but increasingly, my writing is fading or disappearing. Maybe there are better solutions, but aside from engraved (expensive) plant labels, I think there is always the risk that labeling will fail.

When you put seeds in the ground, your mind is fresh, and you think you will remember what you planted and where. When greens start to sprout and the leaves don’t look familiar and the tag is faded, will you really remember? It’s a real struggle! Writing down what you plant (and when) in a journal is a great way to make sure you know what you planted.

Keeping Track of How Much You Plant

If you have a goal of planting enough veggies for your family for the entire year (I have a great post about that here!), you will need to keep track of how much you have planted so far. Many crops, such as lettuce, radishes, peas and beans are planted in succession. How will you know how many you’ve already planted and when you are done for the year? A garden journal is a great place to keep track of this.

Knowing What Was Successful and What Wasn’t

Growing in your gardening skills requires a keen knowledge of what worked before and what didn’t. As you garden, you get to know your soil, sun/shade conditions, climate and growing season. While gardening books and blog posts are useful in teaching the basics of gardening, there are tips and tricks that just won’t work where you are at, and others that will be wildly successful. Write down what you try. Write down what succeeded, what failed, and what you plan to do differently next year.

Knowing When to Harvest

Confession: last week I pulled up radishes that were too small to harvest. I tried to replant them, but then they died. What a waste. Do you know why this happened? I didn’t write down my plant date in my garden journal. I thought I would remember–I thought I did remember when I planted them and when they would be ready. I was wrong. I am thankful that I have journaled everything since those radishes! That was a lesson learned.

As I journal, I write what I planted, and the approximate date I should harvest each plant (according to the seed packet). My Echo comes in handy for this because I ask questions like “Alexa, how many days is 90 days from now?” Then I journal that date.

With my journal, I know exactly when veggies should be mature enough to harvest and consume.

Spotting Dud Seeds Right Away

Along with the harvest date, I keep track of the earliest and latest date of germination in my garden journal. As I journal, I write what I planted, the date, and then I write the latest date the item should sprout (according to the seed packet). If I don’t see greens by this date, I can also tell which seeds are duds (or were not planted in ideal conditions), because greens don’t appear on time. This leaves space for planting something else, and I want to be on top of this at the earliest possible date. I don’t want to waste a single day of the growing season.

Do you have a Garden Journal?

If so, what do you keep in it? Share about your experience in the comments! Soon, I will share a post about HOW to set up a Garden Journal. And, BONUS! I have some free sample worksheets from mine. I can’t wait to share it with you! Stay tuned! If you have not subscribed to the Well Fed Homestead email list, make sure you do that. And stay informed by hanging out with me and 50,000 other people on the Well Fed Homestead Facebook page, too.

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