Some like to call them journals. Some call them logs. Whatever you like to name your event recording tool, it can be the secret miracle piece for growing a successful garden bursting with the foods you love.
An all too common human folly when dealing with matters of memory is our unfaltering, stupid, cockamamy hubris. “I don’t need these dumb tags to mark my tomatoes, I’ll remember what I planted and where,” “I don’t need to keep this seed packet or write down what I planted, I’ll remember the varietal.” “I don’t have time to write down my measurements. I’m just going down the road. I’ll remember” WRONG! Unless you’re one of those weridos like my manfriend that has a photographic memory (weird) then you absolutely should always record just about everything when you are undertaking a project like a garden (I’m weirded out by things that make me feel threatened and inadequate).
Keeping a garden journal ESPECIALLY in your inaugural season can really set you ahead a year or two along your garden guru journey. You can reference what you planted too much of, what you want more of, which varieties just didn’t keep your dingy afloat, how your plants dealt with varying conditions and how to be the best caretaker of your garden.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should be taking a stenographer’s account of your garden from dawn to dusk. That’s exhausting and totally overkill. You just need to record a few of the basics so you can later reference key success and failure factors in seasons to come.
5 KEY THINGS TO RECORD
As we all know, the weather is the most powerful dictator in your garden, waggling its ultimate power finger over what will grow and how. What has it been like lately? Is there a crazy drought? Heat spells? Has it been overcast and humid the past week? Has the summer been a crappy, wet bummer? When was the last frost date this year? When was the first of the winter? Check in every week or two and date your entries.
2. Seeding and Transplanting
Whenever you seed or plant some starts into your garden, record the date and time. Document when your seeds germinate. What was the rate of germination? And your transplants? Did they fair well? Who did you buy them from? Did plants from a specific supplier bumper crop better than others? Did you grow you own transplants from seed? Were they the dopest? Keep a list of your favourite suppliers and decide what you may be able to try to start from seed next year to undertake a comparison test.
Take note when you pull your first plump, juicy, ripe tomato. Document all your first harvests. Also, was the harvest bountiful? Did you get as much as you had hoped for? Were you frantically pawning overflow on your friends and neighbours before everything rotted?
Harvest time and quantity is important to document so you can plan for surplus where you want it rather than getting stressed out about wasting your precious green babies or, on the flip side, hoarding the five cucumbers you ended up with because you didn’t plant enough.
Fertilizer types, methods of application and quantities can have a substantial affect on your veggie harvest. Take yield notes as you go and compare over the seasons and years. This will help you decide which manure (aka poop), sea soil (fish poop), compost or alfalfa pellets work for best for you. POOP!
Eugh. The worst, I know. BUT, documenting what you paid where and when can not only help quantify what your garden cost you, but also help you save dollars and cents in the future. Perhaps you spent a small fortune on soil and mulch to start out. What are the alternatives to bringing soil in for next year or for your this year's garden expansion? Can you build it over the winter, have better soil that needs less amending and save yourself some work too? (cheat sheet hint: The answer is yes). What about mulch? Are there ways you can save by using free materials provided by mother nature? (also yes). Categorize your costs into seeds, plant starts, soil, mulch, fertilizers etc. Sometimes most pricey does not equate to best quality. Keeping a log will help you weed out the fakers in the pretty packages and invest only in the best products on the market. Maybe you’ll even concoct a witch’s garden brew of your own!
Keeping a journal, diary, captain's log, whatever, is a valuable tool. It may seem like a childish nuisance at the outset but in years to come, you will be in on all the garden secrets and covet your notes like precious treasure. Imagine all the food you could expertly grow if the apocalypse happened. You'd be like a saviour holding the information to save your people!
For all you photo memory weirdos, you can just go ahead and be all “I’ll just put all that information in my brain cache.” We'll see who comes out on top when armageddon hits, won't we...
I didn't even swear once in this post! Fuckin eh!