2022 Garden Part One: Garden Journal

Today I woke up to snow. So, of course, it is time to plan the garden!  This annual planning of the garden could not arrive at a better time of the year. The holidays, and all that planning, is behind me with a long blank calendar ahead of me. I am trapped inside with depressingly cold, windy, and gray weather keeping me from venturing outdoors. I am longing for long sunny days, and I am not even halfway through winter. But alas, those bright, colorful, catalogs have arrived in the mail and today it is time to start ordering because next month, believe it or not, I will start planting seedings in the greenhouse. A smile brightens my face and settles in my heart. It’s garden planning time! (a.k.a. I just might survive another winter!)

Start a Garden Journal

As any gardener can tell you, gardening is a series of hits and misses. The first thing I would suggest, if you haven’t already, is start a garden journal. A garden journal reminds you which seeds, and variations, were successful and which ones did not perform well. It also reminds you what was planted and where. It is important to rotate crops to repair the soil as different plants take different nutrients from the ground.

A journal does not have to be anything other than a notebook, blank journal, or an Excel document. Coming from a financial background I prefer using the computer. It is also more convenient for me. I do not always have a pen and paper with me to jot down notes when I am out in the garden. But I will always have my phone on my person. Armed with my cell phone camera, notes, and a few garden apps I am ready to conquer my garden woes and celebrate its triumphs.  An easy cut and paste when I get inside will update my journal in seconds.

Journal Sections

My journal of choice is an Excel spreadsheet. Excel is an excellent choice for a garden journal. With tabs I can easily add sections to my journal and quickly access the data I am interested in. In addition, Excel allows me to insert word documents, images, and quickly and easily calculate harvest dates, moon tracking, and create graphs. The artsy, crafty side of me misses the notebook journal. But the practical, efficient side of me appreciates the ease of Excel. Bonus, when I make a mistake I can easily and neatly correct it without dark lines and scribbles ruining my pages.

The first thing you want to do is open a new spreadsheet and create the following tabs in your worksheet:

Zone – knowing and understanding your zone and frost dates is essential to gardening. You can find this information for your zip code HERE.

Layout – This is where I keep my current garden layout to reference when I am planting. Later it is a handy tool to remind me which plants are growing in a given row. Small green shoots all like alike. You can place stakes with the plant name in front of each row, but ultimately one or more will get ran over by the mower or blown away from the strong winds before a storm. Keeping a detailed design online is much easier.

The layout of the garden is quite possibly the most important part of planning. A lot of thought has to be put into which vegetables are compatible and do well next to one another. For example, the cabbage and brussels sprouts are designed next to the tomatoes because the tomatoes keep pest away from cabbage. The leeks are next to the carrots because carrot is said to repel leek moths.

Seeds & Plants – This is the holy grail of garden journals. There is where I track my seed variations, seed companies, and the outcomes. I will make notes on how to improve the garden, strike through seeds that did not perform well and jot dot new ideas for next year.

Budget – Gardening does not have to be expensive, but there are costs involved. This tab allows me to plan for projects and keeps me on track. On my own, I will run out and try to buy everything at once.

Pest & Disease Log – It is important to have a log of any pest or diseases you come across and how you handled the situation. Try using all natural and organic solutions whenever possible. You know for Mother Earth and all, but mainly because you and your loved ones eat said plants. Do you really want them covered in chemicals?

Soil Log – For an optimal garden experience it is important to test the soil and replace any nutrients that have been depleted over the years. Farmers do this on a large scale every year. Home gardens should get the same love and care. After all, if properly cared for it will feed your family, and other families to come, for years.

Journal – A place to write down all those thoughts, ideas, and future gardening plans in one easy to find location. This is where I really appreciate the online journal the most. Not too many of us print pictures anymore. We take them digitally, post them to social media digitally, and store them digitally. An online journal allows me to insert an image into any post giving me a lifelong documentation of every garden.

Garden Icon Template – This is a page that holds all the vegetable and flower icons you will use for your garden layout.

These are the bare minimums. As you continue to garden you will find there are things you look up often. When this happens I add another tab and insert the data in the journal. I would suggested adding a tab that shows the Vegetable Planting Dates in you zone. You can find the information HERE.

This Part One in a Ten Part Series on starting and maintaining a garden. Next Post “2022 Garden Part Two: Our Favorite Seed Companies.” (FEB 2022). I hope you found some inspiration and are ready to get started with your own garden projects. Please don’t forget to like this post.

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3 thoughts on “2022 Garden Part One: Garden Journal

  1. I keep promising myself to make a decent garden. I went so far as to plant a potted one. I got some good yield but never near what I truly want. Still in the deciding how I want to go about this so this little series cannot hurt!

      1. I hear you. I used to have a lovely one in my first house. An okay one in the second (including boxes my husband built) but now? I must start from scratch!

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