The Importance of Keeping a Garden Diary
One of the first tips I give to community gardeners when we begin is to keep a garden diary.
My last post mentioned one of my gardening dislikes but keeping notes in a diary is high up there in my likes, mostly because I have ‘a thing’ for stationary and in particular, pretty notebooks.
A seed diary, a garden work diary, a weather diary – it doesn’t matter how little or how much you add to your gardening notepad, the trick is to remember to do it.
Making regular notes about what happened and how your plants grew for you each year will help you to remember what went right or what went wrong in your vegetable garden and is an important step in the learning process. I’ve learnt so much from my mistakes over the years, but if I hadn’t written down the process, might never have remembered why!
You might include notes on how long the seedlings took to push their way up through the soil and grow their first set of true leaves (the second pair of leaves you see growing on the seedling, the first set are known as seed leaves or cotyledon leaves), or you could include the name of the supplier and shop you bought the seeds from which will help you determine whether they look after the packets of seeds they sold to you.
Keeping a note of how well a particular variety of plant grew for you and whether you harvested lots from it, or whether the fruit or vegetables were the tastiest you’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing or the most mundane, will help you pin down seed varieties to grow again or recommend to friends.
If you’re following recommended crop rotation guidelines, it’s a good idea to mark in your diary which beds you planted your seeds or seedlings into, to help you keep track. Include a few photos or sketches too – I find taking photographs throughout the year is a great way of jogging my memory of final growing positions of plants, regardless of where I’d planned to plant them.
Adding general weather conditions to your notes can help you work out when the last frost dates were, whether you had to cover plants or whether your success that year was as a result of non stop sunshine for days, or if the blazing heat caused every last one of your lettuce or spinach plants to bolt and prematurely flower.
Another tip is to keep a note of the compost you sowed your seeds into. I’ve found the brand can hugely influence how well and quickly my seeds germinate, again worth remembering for the next time.
Regardless of whether you keep your notes on paper in beautiful books (which I always return to, no matter how many gadgets I have), in simple copy books, recycled paper clipped together, or on your phone, tablet or computer, the main thing is to keep your notes up to date and to continue to do so, no matter how much bother it may seem at the time.
You’ll find you’ll learn so much more from watching and learning how your own plants grow in your own garden and by referring back to your garden diary than reading heap loads of articles telling you how to do it.
I’d love to hear how you keep a track of what’s growing in your garden. Do you keep notes on your computer or do you have a soft spot for beautiful notebooks like me, or do you even bother at all?