How to Keep a Garden Journal

Keeping a record of your gardening failures, successes, hopes and dreams is a great way to get a start on upcoming gardening season.

Credit: Flickr/Seayard

Garden journals should be sturdy books with room for photos and notes that can be added throughout the year.

Depending on your needs, a garden journal can be anything from a record of what you’ve planted and where, a log of failures and successes from year-to-year, a planting calendar for the year ahead, a personal memoir of your accounts with nature and life in the garden, or better yet, all of the above. 

If you have never tried keeping a garden journal, now is also the perfect time to start! 
Just as you’re starting to settle in for a cosy Pacific Northwest winter your plants are resting, waiting for what lies ahead between solstice and spring. Not much is happening in the garden right now. This is a perfect time for reflection. Remember the endless bounty of cherry tomatoes or the rains that blighted them. Remember the annual container that never stopped blooming or maybe it was the one that never even started. Think back on the successes and the failures of your 2013 gardening season.

To get started you need to have a notebook or binder, make sure to use something that is durable. Gardening is not always a gentle task and you want something that you can keep with you while you work if need be. Also, a good sized pocket will come in handy for saving plant labels or seed packets for future reference. If you’re going paperless, there are several garden journal apps available for your smart phone.
Organize your journal chronologically or in sections. Always make sure to date your work and make a quick note about what the weather has been like and if there have been any notable changes to your garden. This can be helpful when trying to troubleshoot plant problems. Other important information you might want to include is:

  • The name of your plants and the year they were plant.
  • Types of fertilizer or mulch that you’ve used on each plant.
  • Things you want to remember for next year.
  • A wishlist of plants that you are hunting for.
  • A planting calendar for seed starting and/or veggie crop rotation.
Make sure to leave room after each entry for pictures, seeds, pressed leaves, or even to go back and make future notes.
A gardener who keeps a journal reeps many beneifts over time: they know their plants by name, when to change or repeat crops, and are well prepared for all kinds of weather. May their pages always appear half full even during the reflective days of winter.

Jordan McDonald is the co-owner of Southlands garden centre KJM Country Gardens and a regular contributor to