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My Gardening Journal

I love keeping records.  They have helped me in so many ways.  I keep a binder for most every aspect of my farm, although now that we have moved I am updating everything and expanding.  I will focus on my garden journal here.

Here are some of the things I keep track of:

  • I know when I started my seeds the year before last and how well they did, what their conditions were, when they started to sprout, the percentage of how many made it in the ground, and how the plants did through the season.  I jot down notes nearly daily about what I did and how my seedlings are doing, maintenance in the garden, fertilizer applications, etc. etc.
  • I keep track of experiments.  That way, when I try to remember how my potatoes in 5 gallon buckets experiment went, I can remember.  When I wonder when I planted my beets the year before and how the weather was, I can better prepare the next year knowing that they survived despite wintery weather.
  • I can track my expenses.  Then I can see how much money seed saving is saving me because year after year I try to save different types of seeds.  I can also see how much I spent on nursery trays, starter soil, etc. and see savings the next year when I re-use them and begin to make my own starter soil.  I can track what vegetables sold best, how much I sold, how much profit I made, and prepare myself better for the next year.
  • I keep track of harvests.  I can guesstimate how many tomato plants I need based on the previous seasons planting.  Of course different weather and watering conditions can affect yields, this is just an estimation.  I can also see that “x” number of plants yielded “x” pounds of tomatoes and what I did with them – this helps me better prepare my pantry by taking inventory before canning season to see where I need more of what.
  • I keep track of my schedules.  Spring, summer, and fall gardens.  Succession plantings.  This helps me prepare mentally for the season ahead so I know when seeds need to be started, how many, and I can keep things rolling smoothly.
  • Charts.  I love charts.  I have a section in my binder devoted to charts I have found on the internet.  Charts that tell me, approximately, how much of what vegetable I should grow per person, how many seeds I need for 25, 50 and 100ft. rows of vegetables, planting schedules, companion planting, estimated yields, and lists of what vegetables belong in what family to assist with proper rotation,etc.
  • Inventory.  Perhaps the “bread and butter” of my journal.  I keep a spreadsheet of what seed packets I have, the size of their packet, approximately how many seeds per pack, my goal for planting, list price and what I paid.   I highlight the heirloom varieties so I know what seedlings need to be marked, covered at times to prevent cross pollination, and can keep a general eye on them as these varieties I try to save my seed from, to use the next year.  I don’t yet save seed from all my plants, but I do hope to reduce my seed costs each year by expanding the plants I do save seed from, learning a few more each year.
  • Seed saving notes – I can keep track of seed saving techniques, make note of what plants I am going to save seed from,  and track what I save through the season for next year.
  • Planning – I have a section with graph paper and notes so I can plan out the layout of my garden.  I will be rotating so it will be helpful to keep track of where I planted everything year to year.  I also want to be sure my taller vegetables aren’t shading my shorter vegetables.  I want to make sure the things planted near each other are companions.  Being able to graph all of this out is helpful, so I have a basic idea of where everything should go, how long I want my rows, how many of each veggie I can put in each row, how wide my aisles should be, etc.
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