- You need to know what you planted last year (as crazy as it might sound, it is easy to forget what you planted sometimes, especially if you planted a lot of different things)
- You need to know how each type of plant grew and produced
- You need to know what your water requirements for each type of plant were
- You need to know what the weather was like
- You need to know what your soil pH levels were in each bed you planted in (you can learn more about soil pH here)
- You need to know if you over produced or under produced certain plants for your family’s consumption
- You need to know which plants were heirloom, hybrid, or GMO (depending on what you grow. We stick to heirloom for the most part with some hybrid tomatoes thrown in here and there and we completely avoid GMO for many reasons)
- You need to know what types of pests you had, where, and what was effective (if anything) at controlling them
As you can see there are a lot of things you need to know about your plants and relying on your memory just isn’t going to cut it. A gardening journal doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, placing a spiral notebook in your greenhouse or next to your gardening tools (but not somewhere it could get wet, that would ruin all your hard work) is the perfect solution. That way while you are in the garden you can just jot down some simple notes. You might make note of:
- How many of your onion plants sprouted
- How much rainfall you received that day
- If your tomatoes have blossom end rot developing
- or if your aphids are being effectively controlled by the ladybugs you have encouraged to live in your garden this year with a simple wooden house
A sample entry might be as simple as:
March 3rd – onions have sprouted, soil moisture is ideal, possibility of frost tomorrow night, no rainfall today, temperatures 54 F high, 33 F low.
Or it could be more complex:
October 1st – blueberry bushes have lost most of their foliage and appear to be developing a fungal growth. Sprayed with an organic preparation found at the DirtDoctor.com. The soil pH is alkaline for the blueberries at 7.1 and the soil will be amended with sulfur over the winter, in the meantime the soil was sprayed with a vinegar solution of 2 tbls of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. One bush did get excessive overspray of the acidic solution and will need to be watched for damage. Blueberry bushes are not producing at this time.
See what I mean? The beauty of the gardening journal is it can be as simple or complex as you want to make it, but simply keeping a garden journal will ensure that you are better prepared for the next growing season. It can take several years to get a well balanced, maintained, organic soil established in a new garden bed and keeping that journal will help you to stay on track with amending the soil.
A vegetable garden for a truly self-sustainable family/household requires hard work, diligent planning, and good management. A garden journal is a vital part of that. Angi, at A Return To Simplicity, has a good little article on keeping a journal that points out many of the same things, again stressing the importance of garden journaling. I have the perfect solution for you if you would like to purchase a well laid out printable version rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. At $9.95 The Gardening Notebook (*affiliate link) is a steal that will last you a lifetime. It is a garden journal that is fully customizable and will grow with you and your garden helping you to be better armed every year.
Have you started journaling about your garden yet? Have a great day and God bless!