By Cindy Naas
Several years ago a friend gave me my first garden journal notebook.
This friend is not a gardener but is a compulsive journaler, and was sure that I would enjoy keeping a journal about the garden each year.
At first I wasn’t convinced, but after using it for one season I am an ardent advocate of keeping a garden journal.
Each summer as I wander through my newly-planted garden I think about what I’d like to do differently next summer. Before I began journaling, many of those ideas just disappeared. Now, however, if I come up with an idea I especially like, it goes into my journal. I’ve planned flower plantings in new colour combinations which I like, added in walkways and decided on different varieties of veggies to try based on journals from years past.
This year, for example, I have already written down an idea I got from one of your comments on a previous entry. I’ve designed a project for my boys involving different ways of growing tomatoes and written down all of the details. It’s all there in my journal, just waiting for the next new growing season to be put into action.
I also save seeds from heirloom varieties which have done well in my garden. I dry tomato seeds, for example, and then place them in an envelope and tape it to the back pages of my journal. Next spring, I’ll take out the seeds and get them started. And, usually after I do that, I sit down with my previous year’s journal and give it a quick read to see how the growing season went. It all adds to the excitement of getting each year’s garden growing.
How Does My Garden Grow?
I try to keep track of things like planting dates and frost dates in my journal, in order to remind myself of when I planted outdoors each year. I track weather and water conditions- last summer, for example, we had a very wet spring followed by a nasty drought. This summer, we’ve had another wet spring but with cool weather, cooler than average. I still have the journal from the year all of my seedlings got turned into green pulp by a freak hail storm. I’d just put the plants out to begin hardening off and then I went to the store.
I pulled into the store parking lot and a hail storm with hail the size of golf balls began. I drove back home as soon as I could after the hail stopped, but it was too late for my poor seedlings, and that year I had to buy all of my veggie seedlings from the nursery. I am able to tell you that story because I still have the entry in that year’s journal- although I have removed much of the descriptive language I used that evening when writing about the hail storm!
My garden journals are filled with magazine clippings and recipes, seed company web addresses, photos of exceptionally beautiful gardens, notes about what my children did and said while they were gardening with me, and I now think of them as my treasures. If you begin journaling about your garden I think you’ll be surprised at how much of your life will be contained in your notebook by the end of the summer.