A notebook, calendar, computer or shoebox will do Garden journals

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By Marilyn McKinley

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

If you have never kept a garden journal, please consider doing so. A journal serves as an almanac and reference guide. It’s a great learning tool.

Journaling is a snapshot of where you are in relation to your garden at a given moment. It helps you value your thoughts and feelings about gardening. Yes, it takes time, yes sometimes I forget to “journal,” yes, every year one of my New Year’s resolutions is to do a better job of keeping my garden journal.

Your journal can be a fancy book, a spiral notebook, a calendar, index cards, computerized, or a shoebox. Pictures, whether on a cellphone, an iPad, or on film, are valuable additions. Sketches of your gardening area, including plants, are very helpful.

When should you start? Anytime, but I think starting in the early spring, when you order or buy seeds and plants, makes sense. Record what you bought, where you bought it, as well as any other seed- or plant-related info you would like to have for reference. Be sure to keep seed packages and the plastic plant information tags. You may also want to record thoughts about how things went last year, why and when you need to do certain things, what you plan to do different this year. Record soil amendments, and whether that made a difference this year.

How do you go about doing this, and what other information would be helpful?

You can record daily, weekly, or how ever often you like. I highly recommend aiming for daily. Record the temperature, rainfall amount, humidity, weeds and your plan of attack, observations about what neighbors are doing in their gardens, etc. Write down the date and what you did in the garden each day. Record your observations in a way that will be useful next year.

Examples: The daffodils are beautiful, need to be divided, (then write “forward” — plan when to do that). The roses are doing well. I used on them this year. The Japanese beetles appeared on July 1. The tomatoes did not get early blight this year. I think it was because I pulled off lower leaves and gave them more space and air. Powdery mildew made the bee balm ugly — plan to replace with mildew resistant types.

Record how you managed pest control. I keep both a “wish list” and “I think I might try …” section in my journal.

Garden journaling is a wonderful gift to yourself. It provides valuable information, it’s personal, yet great for sharing.

More information can be found at http://go.osu.edu/journal.

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