Why keep a journal? You'll learn from your own experiences from year to year. When should you start tomato seeds indoors? Which echinaceas did you plant last year? And where DID you plant those echinaceas You'll get to know your garden's soil, microclimates and other factors affecting growing conditions much better. You'll keep all your plant and planting information in one place so you don't go searching for it year after year. You can create an artifact which can be handed down to future generations, or, if you sell your home, to future owners of the home. You can track the natural world, from the blooming of the shadbush to the arrival of the hummingbirds to the hatching of monarch caterpillars. You're only limited by your time and imagination.
There are many different options for keeping a gardening journal. There are pre-fabricated journals like the 10-year volume in the first photo, a dandy item that came from Lee Valley Tools. The trick, of course, is remembering to update it faithfully.
You may not find something exactly like the antique Garden Files folder in the above photo, but you can use a newer, less customized accordian folder and customize it to make it your own.
What do you keep in your journal/garden kit? Weather notes, soil test results, food crop harvest times and yields, seed purchases and planting records, seed storage if desired (more on that in a minute), notes, tags and labels from plants and seed purchases, photos, a map of your garden...
The main things to remember about keeping a garden journal:
In order for it to be useful, you need to be faithful in making entries. Even making 15 minutes once a week will go a long way in keeping things organized.
Remember to write things down! If you see a flowering shrub in a magazine in December, put an entry in your wish list, because unless you're very good, you will NOT remember about that plant when the nurseries open in spring and you're flooded with all kinds of new information. Trust me on this.
Be honest with your record keeping, taking note of your failures as well as your successes.
Have fun with it. Gardening is a relaxing pastime, not a stressor, and keeping a garden journal ought to be fun and not intimidating. It's your garden, and your journal--customize to suit yourself.
What do you do for a garden journal?