All of the gardening advice articles recommend keeping a gardening journal so you can keep track of what worked and what didn’t work. But to me, it has always seemed a little more like ‘food logging’ – everyone hates it, but it works.
I’ve tried for the last couple of years, using different methods. I tried a ‘diary’ version. A page (or a paragraph) for every day. I would write down whatever I planted or whatever I observed. But after I have a few pages filled, I wondered how on earth I could ever find anything again. I tried a couple of computer versions, so I could do a search. I kept it up for about one week.
Well, here I am again, looking for a solution. I scour the internet for ideas. I get gardening templates from seed companies. Nothing sparks an interest. Finally, I make my own from scratch.
I decided what info I really wanted to capture:
- What vegetable I planted (e.g. tomato)
- Vegetable variety (e.g. 'Brandywine')
- Where I bought it (seed company, if seeds; store, if seedling)
- What year seed was packaged for
- Leftover seed? (I’m sure I’ll change this.)
- Planting info
- Date planted and how many
- Date germinated and how many
- Date transplanted to garden and where
- Date of first bloom
- Date of harvest
Now to fit the info into a format that would work. I decided that instead of keeping the journal by day, I should keep it by the variety I’ve planted. That way, I can see all of the info for that planting at a glance. This is what I ended up with:
I decided I wanted the journal to be a half-sheet width and height. So I created two on a portrait page, like this:
Because I want this to print back-to-back, I made another page exactly like the first. Then I used the duplex feature, flipping on the short side, to print a bunch of them. Now…. how to put them together in some pleasing way.
Again, I scour the internet, and I find several articles and YouTube videos of making a leather journal/diary. Perfect. I have leather and all the tools and supplies. The instructions are a little confusing at first, making several ‘sets’ of pages which are stitched into the leather one set at a time. I made many mistakes in the stitching pattern, having to undo it and redo it. But it was SO worth it!
I now have a totally customized garden journal! (My son says it looks like something from the 60’s. I thought that was cool. Then he said “clearly not your best days.” Haha. He loves to punk me.)
I’ve successfully used it now for several weeks. I see I definitely need to change the information sections. You can see here that I’ve scribbled all over the pages. But that’s totally okay with me. It’s not for some kind of corporate presentation – it’s just a record for me to look back on.
This is the second year I’ve tried to grow my own seedlings indoors, and my journal has really helped me realize what the true germination rate is and how my seedlings react to different environments. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will keep it up. Since I put so much work into making it, I think that will be an incentive.