I’ll never forget the first time I talked with a long-time gardener who was able to tell me how different varieties of tomatoes and peppers had performed for him the year before – and even five years earlier.
He also knew how much rain had actually fallen on his yard (not at the official weather station) the previous week – and each of the past 10 years.
He wasn’t one of those people with a phenomenal memory who’ve been in the news lately. He wrote things down in a garden notebook. As I recall, it was a looseleaf notebook so he could just keep adding pages as the data accumulated.
The type of notebook doesn’t matter nearly as much as having the information all in one place .
I like to keep track of the plants I buy each year and how well they grew and bloomed – or didn’t. That saves me from trying the same wonderful-sounding plant twice because I’d forgotten I’d already given in a whirl and it was a dud.
I like to know when my various hydrangeas and other shrubs bloomed each year, when we ate the first tomato of the season, and whether a particular cultivar of cucumber was a heavy producer or not – and for how long.
A garden notebook can also remind me of plants that I really liked and want more of. I always save the label and paste it to the page or put it in a special plastic bag that holds all the labels for a particular year. I never ceased to be surprised at how often I refer back to these.
I’m a bit of a weather junkie so I like to record the weather’s ups and downs, lows and highs, wets and dries (noting the rainfall amounts with a rain gauge in my backyard).
I’ve never done this, but a graph or drawing of all your beds is a wonderful idea.
If you’re big on experimenting in the garden, you can note different types of fertilizer you tried during the year, tools you bought, and so forth.
A to-do list at the front of the garden notebook can be a handy reminder – there always seems to be one thing that you forget about over and over.
And don’t forget to add photos! We gardeners often can use inspiration. It’s such a pleasure to look back at pictures taken at the beginning of a project, see how far you’ve come, and be able to say, “Hey, I’ve made a difference.”
That’s what’s keeps us going.