Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Planning and Journaling

Every gardening book I've read has recommended starting a gardening journal.  I finally did this past year, and I think it makes a big difference in my approach to the garden.  I have a place to compile all of that valuable information I read in gardening books and magazines.  I am much more conscious of my planning efforts. When things go poorly, I have peace of mind in knowing that I'll write down what not to do for next year to avoid making the same mistake twice.  That's not to say I am always the best at keeping up on my notes throughout the year, but I'm definitely improving.

Here's an overview of what I keep in my notebook:
  • Notes:  These include notes on what I am doing and what I plan to do.  Don't pay attention to my impeccable handwriting here...  I try to keep my bright ideas all in one place...  as well as any notes on what/when I plant, harvest, diseases or pests that arrive, etc.  I also am sure to make very clear notes to myself for next year about what I should do differently.  In the back half of the journal, I keep more general notes from books and magazines about what I should be doing.  
    •  Garden Diagrams:  I drew this incredibly spatially accurate map (right...) of my garden and yard in the front.  I retrace it to make maps of water flows, where and when the sun shines, and (most importantly) what I plant where each season.  This helps me to avoid planting the same family of crops in the same place year after year...  and it helps me plan where things will go.  
      •  Planting Schedules:  These look a little different each season.  Sometimes they are organized enough to take the form of a spreadsheet, but other times they barely get scribbled in a margin somewhere.  My most recent spring planting spreadsheet has the name of the seed variety, the brand, when I bought it, when I presprouted it, when it germinated, when it was transplanted, and notes on what should/shouldn't be done again next year.  

        That's about it!  I keep a combination of electronic and written formats, but often print off the electronic and staple them into my journal.  Any format works.  The most important thing is finding a method that makes it easy for you to keep up with it.

        My favorite part of keeping the journal is that I can start "gardening" long before I can get outside to plant a thing!

        Now that all my plans are made, I can begin seed starting...  my favorite part of the year.

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