Gardening is an ongoing learning experience. With experience gardeners learn to refine techniques, and discover which plants do well in their gardens. If notes are compiled over a period of years, trends can be found, and plants that perform best can be planted again (and again).
When the plants are first started, make an entry in the diary with information about the plant.Another reason to keep a garden diary handy is to help keep track when activities should be done. If the planting date is recorded, and it becomes apparent that a plant was started too early or too late, the following year’s planting can be adjusted without having to rely on memory. If fertilizing according to a weekly regimen, nutrient changes can be scheduled in advance.
From the moment of purchase, the plants should never be without a label. From seed, to seedling tray, to planting, growth, and harvest each plant should be identified. If seeds are saved, they should be marked so the cycle can continue next season.
1/15/2014: Started Tomato “Big Rainbow” indoors from seed.
90 days, indeterminate, bushy. Rich smoky flavor.
Then an entry 90 days later: “Big Rainbow” tomatoes expected to be ripe.
Exactly what information is recorded is up to the individual gardener. Fancy preprinted weekly planner diaries, and smart phone calendars can be a good choices, but so can simple and cheap spiral bound notebooks.
Record any major events that occur in the garden. Recording the appearance of first flowers one year, can be informative as when to expect the plants to start flowering during the next year. List bug sightings, remedial measures, new equipment, seeds purchased, etc. Log seasonal temperatures, especially heat waves or cold snaps.
Written data can be augmented with photographs (especially when taken from the same angle and zoom) every weeks. This can illustrate how the current year’s plants compare with previous year’s. The current year’s plants can be compared to, and judged against (for better or worse) to previous seasons.
As anyone who has overplanted zucchini can attest, knowing what sort of harvest to expect can influence how many of a particular plant to start. At harvest time, mark down which plants had a surplus or shortage of produce for the amount planted.
Diary entries can be flowery and verbose, or short and terse, even minimal notes can be learned from. If facts haven’t been recorded, once faded from memory, they are gone.
A good garden diary will record enough information to help with decision making in following years. Not only can such records help a gardener improve, but they can illustrate exactly by how much.
- Gherkin Gent