The best kept gardening secret has nothing to do with soil temperature or crop rotation schedules. It’s not how to keep aphids off your cherry tree, or how to prevent blossom end rot on squash plants. While these are all great things to know, the best tip I can share with you is to keep a notebook dedicated to your gardening efforts.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can use a ten cent spiral bound notebook you pick up on clearance in the fall, or one with homemade paper and a leather cover that you buy off Etsy. My garden notebook is a Composition book that I picked up for ten cents on clearance almost ten years ago, and decorated with scrapbook paper and accessories.
Into this notebook, I stuck photos of my garden over the course of the summer, and made notes about how the plants were growing, and any issues I had: bugs, disease, weather, etc. I made notes about growing methods I tried, and different varieties that grew better than others. I also know it was 2009 when I added my third box and enclosed the whole thing in a fence.
It was through the use of this notebook, that I was able to tell that after seven summers of trying to grow vegetables in my back yard garden boxes, it was not working out. That doesn’t mean I didn’t suspect as much sooner. I had evidence that vegetables weren’t thriving in those boxes for several years. I moved the tomatoes out of the garden boxes and into the back garden by the fence, which gets more sunlight, and they did great back there. I left vegetables that, in my mind, needed less sun, which worked out only okay, because all vegetables need full sun.
In one of my other notebooks I have begun collecting ideas for the dye garden I want to plant by my back fence. I have done research on which types of plants can be used to dye yarn certain colors, and started a list. I have them listed out by annual vs. perennial, and next to the plant name I made a note of which color dye it produces. My garden does not have room for all of these flowers, but my yard might. Maybe.
Finally, in my current Bullet Journal I have a list of garden projects I want to work on this year, and a brainstorm of projects I want to work on next year. Having that layout allows me to keep focused and not get too overwhelmed with all the things I want to get done “eventually”. I know that this summer I don’t have the energy to devote to any big projects, and so I picked smaller, more manageable ones. Having a list for next year allows me to keep track of all those “You know what I want to do?” conversations, and eventually they will make it into my GTD journal on my “Yard” projects list.
I will also use my Bullet Journal to help layout and plan my new garden. I will sketch out a diagram of my space, and use it to help plot out where I want the plants to go. There are so many ways to use notebooks in gardening. Make sure to keep a few extra on hand.
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