There many good reasons to keep a garden journal, first and foremost is to be better at taking care of your own small corner of the universe – your yard.
Just what is a garden journal? It is any sort of book that you (mostly) write in the (possibly) daily notes of the goings on in your garden. For this I like unlined paper, some folks like lined. Some folks like bound journal books, some prefer unbound. Some like a new one every year, some like the five year type. In some cases now, journals are electronic. All you need to do is make entries as often as possible. There are five specific things to note.
What did you plant and when? Some of you reading this can plant vegetables and herbs right now in January. Write down when planted, how long to germination, and how the plants fared. You will know for next year if maybe you jumped the gun on growing in your area.
Write down when you pruned the rose bush and notice if it produced better for you after the pruning. It today’s age of telephones that are cameras – take pictures, take a before and after photo. This will help you tell if you did too much or too little pruning. Write down fertilizers too.
A garden journal can help deal with pests. For example, if you note that tent caterpillars decimated a Texas mountain laurel on May third of one year, you will be reminded to get them first in subsequent years. You can also note when baby bunnies start to squeeze under the gate, and put fixing it on the honey-do list before that time.
Wonder when the mesquites will re-leaf? It depends on a number of factors, including species, age of the tree, and how protected your yard is. With a garden journal, you write it down each year, and then you know when your tree will re-leaf.
I keep tabs on what the overall month weather plus the whole year is like. While it is happening, and even one or two years later you will remember that frost happened on November 3rd., but as we age and our brain gets more cluttered with details, remembering how early frost does show up fades from memory. In the past ten years it has been as early as November 3, and as late as December 10.
You don’t need to be a good gardener, or even a good writer to keep a garden journal. All you need to be is consistent. Now there is a New Year’s Resolution to go for!
If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at Tumacacori Mission (Feb 4, 2016 at 12:30) and at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).
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