Well gang, it's been a LONG minute, but the Bumbling Gardener is back! This pandemic depleted my energy on every level. Working in education, it's been particularly rough. That being said, the hope of a summer garden is on the horizon and a much needed bright light is at the end of this COVID tunnel.
Time for confession--I am organizationally challenged--in every part of my life--gardening is no exclusion. Last year, I made notes on graph paper, on various legal notepads, on the backs of bills--yep, I'm a mess. About half way through the gardening season, I gave up making notes all together. I'd look for a pen, couldn't get my hands on one, and decide I could remember--sure... I could remember days to harvest, pest problems, which plants the bunnies ate down to the ground... Guess what gardening friends? I remember NOTHING.
I am faced with reinventing the wheel yet again. So this year, I decided to make my own gardening journals to keep track of my seeds and plan my garden. I decided to make pretty ones via Amazon KDP--that's a whole other story--talk about a rabbit hole--I did end up publishing two gardening journals and one children's book through the process.
This is the first gardening journal I published. You can get it here. It's got grid paper inside (120 pages). The photograph on the front cover is one of my all time favorite bouquets from my garden. It included all my favorites: dahlias, snapdragons, gomphrena, zinnias, hydrangea, gladioli, and bells of Irleand.
I just ordered one for myself. Truth be told, you don't need this journal, you can use any old notebook. I just wanted something that looked pretty on my coffee table. The takeaway here is that you take some time to make notes of what worked and what didn't work in your garden. I urge you to keep track of what you're planting and where. Note what plants are susceptible to rabbits, deer, pets, or your neighbors :) Keep track of which ones were pollinator magnets--you'll want to plant more of those next year.
Also, make sure you keep notes about your seed starting and transplant dates--the one thing I DO remember is that I started my tomato seeds way too early. I'm not sure what date was too early, I only remember they were ready to go in the garden way before the last frost--that's a no-no for tomatoes.
Journaling will help you from making the same mistakes over and over. Hmm... Perhaps my lack of journaling is connected to why I feel like a new gardener every year?
My other suggestion is to keep track of your seeds--not just keep them organized in seed boxes (or old shoe boxes)--you need to keep track of sowing information, growth habit, days to harvest, etc.
Some seed vendors provide detailed information on their packets (Johnny's comes to mind)... the problem with Johnny's is the print is so darn small I can barely see it with my glasses on! Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has stunning photography and pretty decent sowing information on their seed packets, but not as detailed as Johnny's. I was looking for the Goldilocks way to organize my seed information, so I decided I would make my own journal where I could keep all key information in one place.
You can get my seed journal here. This journal is 120 pages as well, however, it has templated pages (think, fill in the blanks) that will prompt you to track the most important information about each variety. At the end of the day--it doesn't matter what kind of journal you use... just use it! Happy Gardening from the Bumbling Gardener!