I think it’s fair to say I thrive on record-keeping. I keep track of the books I’ve read, my knitting projects, and, yes, my gardening. Last summer I bought this Garden Journal, which packs a lot of worksheets into a pretty small footprint. Rather than imposing strict discipline, the author encourages gardeners to use whatever suits them. There are about thirty different worksheets (and multiple copies of each), including log pages for various types of plants, individual plant pages, weather logs, pruning records, diary entries, and multi-year plans.
To be honest, I can’t imagine using every available worksheet; there’s no way I could keep up with it all. But the beauty of this journal is its customization—there’s something for everyone. Here are my favorite worksheets so far.
The Garden Diary provides unstructured space for free writing. You might argue that this newsletter serves the same purpose, and you wouldn’t be wrong. And yet, at the end of each month I write a paragraph summarizing that month’s activity. 🤷♀️ Call me crazy.
The Bulb, Flower, and Vegetable Logs are invaluable. As much as I think I’ll remember what we planted and when we planted it, I just don’t. And with vegetables, there’s a lot to keep track of: when did I start seedlings? When were they transplanted? How soon can I expect the plants to mature? I began using these logs in March and refer to them several times a week. They’re already helping to shape future planting plans.
Finally, the Garden Layouts are an essential visual record to complement the data-intensive log sheets. When we moved into the house we’d only seen things in a dormant state. The previous owners said they weren't into gardening so our expectations were low, but we were pleasantly surprised by the perennials that emerged over the spring and summer. To make sure we didn’t forget anything over the winter, I created drawings to document each plant and its approximate location in the terrace garden, and the garden spaces at the front and side of the house.
Then we had two dangerous trees removed, turning the terrace from shady to sunny, and decided to convert this space into a White Garden. I scribbled all over the drawing to note new plants, plants moved to other spaces, and a few that we got rid of entirely. Eventually I realized it would be best to just create a new layout. I also found another worksheet to keep track of when each plant blooms. Surely this will aid our quest to have flowers blooming all the time? Well, if nothing else it will make our shortcomings abundantly clear!
I bought the garden journal to help manage the gardening season and plan each following year. But I’ve found I get just as much satisfaction from using it retrospectively. Each year’s vegetable log will bring back memories of successes, happy accidents, and lessons learned. The layouts remind us of where we started, and how things have grown (or not). Much like flipping through old yearbooks or family photos, the garden journal tells a life story that I’m looking forward to reading.