Use a Garden Notebook to Keep Track of Your Vegetable Garden

A simple gardener's notebook can help you keep track of what you have planted, when you planted it, how much you harvested and more.

| August/September 1995

The gardening notebook's service as a growing tool ranks right up there with the spade and trowel. A single sheet of paper is all that many gardeners need to record the valuable information of an entire growing season. Was it the Black Seeded Simpson or Grand Rapids lettuce that germinated poorly last year? The tomatoes were transplanted too early and were damaged by cold, but were they set out the second week of April or the third week? The answer to those questions and many others are only a glance away when you use an organized gardening notebook as a tool.

I designed my first gardening notebook nearly 15 years ago, and though the categories of information have changed through the years, it's always been kept as a single page, easily read chart. On occasion I've been tempted to make it more complicated, but found that keeping up with pages of entries made the whole process a chore. Entering information must be easy and retrieval even easier.

How to Set Up Your Gardening Notebook

I reserve the top of each chart for information of a seasonal nature. The year appears large and bold so the eye keys to it immediately. I also include the dates of the last and first killing frosts in my garden. Those dates prove particularly important to people who garden in cooler valleys, warmer slopes, and other areas where frost dates veer from the norm of surrounding areas. For example, in an area where the USDA has determined the first frost date as September 28th, people gardening on south-facing slopes may find the frost occurs consistently as early as September 19th. Therefore, recording the last frost and first frost dates at your location significantly increases the chances of gardening success.

The gardening notebook chart begins with the left-hand column, "Vegetables." In this column I list the plants that went into the garden that year including vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. To find how long ago a perennial herb such as oregano was planted I simply scan this column on the charts from previous years.

The "Variety" column names the variety of each plant listed. This column is a must have when you grow more than one variety, of a plant. For instance, plants such as COI -11 and marigolds contain far too many cultivars to remember which one was planted with great success six or eight years ago.

Another bit of information that may he included in the variety listing is the company from where the seeds, corms, tubers, or plants were purchased. That would eliminate all guesswork when trying to remember the source of a particular seed or plant variety purchased years ago.

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