Greg CarboneMany experts say keeping a journal is a great way to improve one’s life. You get to recap your days, learn from mistakes and save key experiences. And you can grow better produce.

Edible garden success rates can be improved by doing the exact same thing. Edible gardeners experience many ups and downs throughout the growing season. Some of these experiences are out of our control. After all, you cannot do much about a colder than normal spring filled with heavy rain. However, there are many experiences you can control and learn from. For example, this year we experimented with a few new varieties of heirloom tomatoes here at the DIY Backyard Farm. Some, like the Cherokee Purple and German Queen were spectacular! On the other hand, Mr. Stripey heirlooms did not live up to our expectations.

Do you think we would remember those heirloom tomato experiences in the spring of the following season? Doubtful. The long, cold winter and excitement of a new growing season usually dilute or eliminate such learning moments. This is precisely where gardening journals or notes can save the day. Take a look at the image below. It is a snapshot taken from a real page in the back of the DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide. Those are the notes we have taken on our 2014 tomato garden. We now have a place to refer to when it comes time to plan our 2015 tomato gardens.  

Tomato Notes Page
2014 notes from the DIY Backyard Farm tomato garden

The children can get involved in this process, too. Our 6-year-old and 8-year-old Backyard Farmers each have their own 4-by-2-foot edible gardens to tend. We encourage them to spend time with us observing and noting the gardens on a regular basis. This is a great way to bring them closer to nature and teach them more about the origins of food. In the image below, our son is signifying that his Sweet 100 tomatoes were a big hit. He preferred them to the Husky Cherry tomatoes that he also grew. He already knows what tomatoes he’s growing next season!

Boy and his tomatoes
Sweet 100 tomatoes were delicious and plentiful in 2014

1/29/2015 10:40:59 PM

What an excellent piece of writing that you have posted on backyard farm that offers the guidance and tools. Thanks for great information and tips that you have given. This is easy to understand and very informative and easy method, which you have given us. It is one of the very precious parts of farm infrastructure as well as biggest investment that farmer will make. I work with fencing supplies in and around California and love to read topics like these so that I can help my clients and customers even better. Small gardens and/or containers can yield impressive amounts of delicious edibles.

10/13/2014 2:14:00 PM

Hi Greg, loved your post! It looks like you are a new blogger because I was going to read your past entries and there are none! My "backyard farmer" life is on 300 sf of garden and I thought until this fall I didn't need any kind of notebook. There's not that much to plant, how could I not remember it? But I'm taking your route. After 2 years of trying to grow sweet peas I have learned not to waste my time, at least here. Also, I grew some "purple" tomatoes that I've bought at the farmer's market in previous seasons. However, mine did not turn out like those! Mine were bitter even when ripe. So I will need to keep track of specifically which strains of vegetables I'm growing. Great advice! Look forward to hearing more from you.

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