Here’s why you should keep a garden journal: Looking back 5 years

By Marilyn McKinley

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

While going through my outdated batch of garden articles I came across my 2013 garden journal. Oh my, how different each year is here in Northeast Ohio. Looking at March 2013, I was such a happy gardener! Things were blooming so early, I wondered if it was too good to be true. If you are a vegetable gardener I bet you had planted several things before the last week of April that year.

On March 2, I recorded that daffodils are in full bloom. We have Johnny jump ups and pansies in bloom. I mowed the lawn for the first time March 13. On March 15, it was 75 degrees, and I mowed the yard again on the 19th. On St. Patrick’s Day, it was 78 degrees. We cooked and ate outside. On March 21, our weeping cherry was in full bloom. On March 26, it was 22 degrees – lost azalea blooms!

On to April 8, when a drive along state Route 30 shows many cornfields had been planted. On the morning of April 10, I put down mushroom compost in three new raised beds. On the 11th, I pulled straw away from the strawberries; they are budding. On the 13th, I transplanted hostas. It was very dry everywhere, we needed rain. The dryness has slowed the growth of the grass somewhat. On April 17, I noted that all the irises were in bloom, at least a month earlier than usual. On the 19th, I watered all perennials due to lack of rain.

I was away for about 10 days during the first half of May. When I returned, I was overwhelmed with all the garden chores that awaited me. I needed to do things that were usually June projects!

In addition to the weather details and the chores I did, my journal gave me a wealth of information about my year. Thus, I cannot stress how important a garden journal can be.

It is a wonderful way to keep track of what is going on year to year. What worked and why? Also, what did not work and why?

Planning for next year is easier when you have been faithful to your journal. Do it the old-fashioned way, like I do, write it down. Or, go online and find a template to follow. Take pictures. Jot down thoughts.

Walking through my gardens is a walk down memory lane for me. I have exchanged plants with so many friends. My garden “art” brings back fond memories. I like to mention that in my journal as well. So it’s more than just the art and science of what to change, it’s the memories of how my garden has impacted my life.

Keeping a garden journal is a personal thing. It provides a look back and can be a window into your gardening future. Take the time to get started today.

For details on starting a paper or online journal, including many on-line resources, go to

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