What Are Your Doing in Your Garden Today?
I harvested radishes in thirty days, lettuce in 75 days and fully formed cauliflowers in 160 days. And I know the varieties I grew this year and last.
I am not bragging and I am not some kind of gardening genius. I am reading all this directly from my garden journal.
Before I started garden journaling, I kept scraps of paper on my desk with vital pieces of info: “remember to thin carrots today; seed a second crop of beets next week.” These notes were useful, when I found them in time.
And even the foolproof method I employed for tracking garden hits and misses (writing valuable information directly on seed packets) had it’s problems. I forgot where I stashed the packets or forgot to go back and write when the plants came up or when food was harvested.
I am not a new gardener, or a fabulous gardener. Like everyone I know, I fit gardening between my other ventures, hobbies, travels and work. In other words, I love it but I’m fickle about record keeping.
Some say: “Why bother tracking your garden at all? Just be grateful for the food you produce and the flowers you grow.”
I say: “Wouldn’t a potter record the exact glaze used in a series of successful pots she produces; or a chef record flour added to make that perfect pasta?”
Since I started tracking how and when I plant my garden I have noticed growing garden awareness. I now know my garden grows about six butternut squash per plant per year and my family only eats one winter squash a month, year-round. So now I only plant two butternut squash plants. Any extra fruit produced because of a banner season or better rains can be shared with friends and food banks.
I also notice the exact day my zucchini leaf edges yellow and start to curl under and I apply a tablespoon of zinc sulphate in a gallon of water and spray it on the leaves because these symptoms indicate an imbalance between Phosporus and Zinc. This mineral application worked last year, extending the harvest season, and delaying powdery mildew, so I did it a bit earlier again this fall. Every soil is different so you have to watch your own space carefully.
Even with climate change, rainstorms and greenhouse overheating incidents, I eat my own fresh food as long as possible and my garden journal is becoming my go-to “book” for gardening in my yard. It is specific to my latitude, my unfortunate north-sloping lot and my fast-draining sandy-soil. It records past soil problems and solutions I have employed.
It’s good to be grateful, so start recording how you got your hits and misses, how your hands got dirty or what critter you spotted in February or November. You can write down weights of potatoes raised in pots versus soil or the number of cabbage harvested from each packet of seed so you can be more precise when ordering in the future.
Recording information is a valuable, money saving tool for all gardeners, so I created a special journal just for that purpose together with my daughter Chelsie Anderson. The Three Year Gardener’s Gratitude Journal sprouts January 26, 2018.
In my garden today, in December, I picked a lemon. Then I covered my plant back up with row covers and plugged in the Christmas lights, connected to a thermometer so they keep my lemons above zero degrees Celcius (32 F). I might also order some larger sheets of row cover today because the sheets I bought last year don’t cover my lemons in a single pass any more as the plants have grown.
What are you doing in your garden today? If you write it down you are more likely to remember it. If you write it down in a book, you are more likely to find the book when you need it. I hope.
PS Even though I am tracking my growing efforts in a book, I still write random notes on seed packets and take plenty of photos. It is these things combined that help me look back on the season. I am looking forward to my new journal coming out in print in January. It will prompt me to remember and record even more about what is going on in my garden.
Here are more pictures from inside the journal:
What Would Donna Do?
Get my growing and gardening tips and pointers throughout the season.