Just like a personal journal, a garden journal can help you to save memories, work out frustrations or creatively express yourself. While doing all of this, it can help you to have continued success with what goes right in the garden each season and to rethink, and make gains in, those things that did not go so well.
Entries can be as wordy or brief as suits your personal style, prose-it or list-it as you see fit. Regardless of style, some common things to record are:
• Weather Conditions/Any watering changes or protections used to deal with them
• Soil Conditions/Amendments
• Seed and Plant Choices
• When something was planted, sprouted, bloomed, harvested or removed
• Positives/negatives of ornamental plant appearance, size, manageability
• Positives/negatives of food plant productivity, flavor, ease of harvest and use
The journal is also a good place to plan and record garden layouts and to tuck in reference materials such as a chart of what to plant when in your region.
You can get a pre-printed paper garden journal that will have cues and designated recording places to make recording easy. Most of these also have areas for the aforementioned layout planning and provide reference charts. If you're more of a freestyler, get a blank journal and go for it!
Paper journals are not the only option of course. There are garden journal apps and online versions as well, and they provide the added benefit of quickly linking to additional plant or garden information on the fly. Some also allow you to share within a community of other gardeners.
Whether you chose paper or electronic be sure to take lots of images to “post" in your journal and “paste" in a few seed packets – actual or scanned- to color things up and provide reference.
Use the Data
During the off season, peruse your journal to see what worked, what needs tweaked and what got you excited for more. Do you need to plan for amending some soil, thinning some shade, or maybe adding a spigot? Should you start the tomatoes earlier? Is there a plant to skip as it needs too much attention right when you always take vacation? Also, use it to plan next season's garden plots and make seed, plant, supply and to-do lists.