By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you belong to a multitude of gardening groups through different social media platforms? If so, you’ve probably heard people discuss keeping gardening records.
But is there a real point to keeping such records? In a word, yes! Keeping gardening records has a number of benefits.
Plus, there are many ways you can keep these records to where they can be as vague or detailed as you like.
There’s no one way to keep gardening records, but I’m going to share a few of the benefits for keeping such records and also share a few ways you can go about documenting your garden.
Here’s how and why you should keep gardening records over the years:
Why You Should Keep Gardening Records Over the Years
Have you ever started a garden and wished you could recall details from the previous year’s garden? I think it happens to us all.
Gardening records can help you recall important things you’d like to know from year to year. Here are a few good reasons you should consider keeping gardening records:
1. Gardening Records Keep Track of Time
One of the biggest frustrations in gardening is when you can’t remember when you performed which task the previous year.
By keeping gardening records, you can jot down dates and times of when you last tested your soil, when you started seeds both indoors or direct sown, when you began hardening off seedlings, and when you transplanted seedlings to their permanent growing locations.
Gardening records can also help you track when specific plants bloomed in previous years, when you fertilized certain plants, and also when each plant was harvested at each planting.
These are all good things to know to help you plan your gardening season. By taking notes on these times, it can help you feel more organized and less overwhelmed.
2. Gardening Records Can Help You Maintain Proper Crop Rotation
If you don’t practice crop rotation, you probably should. Crop rotation is when you switch plants around in your garden to confuse pests and diseases.
By planting the same plants in the same area of the garden year after year, diseases form and remain in the soil. Pests will also know where to look each year.
However, by tracking where you plant specific crops each year, you’ll know where not to plant the next year.
As a general rule, you should keep your plants on a three-year rotating cycle. This should be enough time to ensure that all pests and diseases which could harm the plants have been handled, and the area is safe.
3. Gardening Records Serve as a Calendar
Just as gardening records can help you remember where crops were planted in previous years, it can also help you track dates for specific pests.
For instance, you can mark what month or day Japanese beetles appeared in your garden. Over the years, you can compare dates and any notes you made of specific conditions that might have influenced the date.
In my case, Japanese beetles were late in our 2020 growing season. However, it made sense because we had an extreme cold snap in May and June.
Our garden was late that year as well. This is important to note, so I wouldn’t assume that Japanese beetles would always arrive at the time they did in 2020.
By keeping solid records, you should have an idea as to when you should begin preventative maintenance and become alert to potential threats in your growing spaces.
4. Gardening Records Help You Remember Varieties
Does it do any good to simply state, “I grew tomatoes in this location last year. They were really good, and I want to grow them again next year”?
No, this might not be detailed enough for you to duplicate your growing experience in the following years as there are a multitude of varieties of tomatoes.
However, if you make notes in your gardening records that read, “I grew early girl tomatoes in this location last year. I planted them on (insert date), and I want to grow them again next year for (insert use or reason),” this is a detailed account that will help jog your memory in the following year as you plan your garden.
5. Gardening Records Track Goals
Do you have goals for your garden? I think most of us do and many of us have to achieve these goals over time due to time and financial constraints.
Don’t let this deter you. Instead, use gardening records to write down your gardening goals, break the goals into manageable steps, and track your completion of each goal.
This way, you don’t have to remember what you thought you wanted to do in previous years. You simply create a plan and hold yourself accountable by tracking what you complete.
6. Gardening Records Keep You on Track
Gardening records are a key to running an efficient garden. When you know what pests appear and when, you can stay a step ahead of them.
When you know when you should start seedlings, harden them off, transplant, and harvest, you have a game plan ready to go when the season starts.
If you have specific goals you’d like to reach each year, they’re noted in your gardening records. All of this helps your gardening season run more efficiently.
7. Gardening Records Track Weather
We all check when our first and last expected frost dates are. However, it’s nice to have them recorded, so we can look for the patterns.
This is important to help us know when we should be in the clear of frost to plant our spring and summer gardens.
Plus, it helps to let us know when we can expect frost in our fall gardens. All of this helps us to have a better idea of growing conditions which leads to healthier and more productive plants.
8. Gardening Records Track Layouts and Gardening Methods
Have you ever tried to switch the way you grow things? Sometimes you have good results and other times you know not to repeat a certain growing method with a specific crop.
Plus, there are times when you layout your garden a specific way and either love it or hate it. Keeping a record helps you to remember the results of these experiments to ensure you either recreate them or you avoid them in the future.
This has helped my family tremendously because one year we made our rows go in a different direction than in previous years. It was a total bust, and we have records to ensure we don’t waste time with that again.
However, there are also records I keep to remember which type of tomato grows best in a container on my back deck and which tomato varieties do best in the ground or in raised beds.
Gardening records can help you remember what you’ve done to help you have a better growing season and avoid wasting unnecessary time.
9. Gardening Records Track Moisture
Our final reason why keeping gardening records is important is to track moisture. There are certain times of the year your area might receive an exceptional amount of rain.
Other times of the year, you might experience drought. By tracking the different seasons of rain and drought, it can prepare you to water in certain periods and know that you should have extra time in other periods because you won’t have this gardening chore.
My family also uses these times to know when to vacation. If I leave my garden during a time of plenty of rain, I can feel confident that I won’t come home to a dead garden.
However, I know during periods of drought, I either need to leave my garden in the care of a family friend or realize that it probably won’t produce as expected.
These are a few reasons why taking the time to make notes about your garden each year can save you time, money, and frustration in future years.
How to Keep Gardening Records Over the Years
Now that you understand why gardening records are important, let’s discuss how you can go about keeping such records.
Here are a few ideas for keeping gardening records:
1. Keep a Gardening Planner
Do you enjoy keeping a planner? Whether you buy one specifically for gardening or just add your records to a current planner you have, this might be a great way for you to keep notes about dates, times, and experiences in one neat location.
Plus, most planners have a calendar and a place for notes. It’ll be up to you how you layout your gardening records but a planner might be a great way to keep yourself organized without having many separate notebooks or documents.
2. Keep a Gardening Document
Are you someone who prefers to keep information electronically? Then try keeping a document in either Word or in Google Documents.
This is an easy way to keep the notes you desire without taking up any additional space around your home. Plus, you can always search the document to find key information in a hurry.
You might also consider storing your records as a note in your phone. This way, you can always have the information with you. If you’re tech-friendly, keep your records digitally.
3. Keep a Gardening Spreadsheet
Some people thrive off of spreadsheets. If you’re someone who does this, consider keeping your records in either Excel or Google Sheets.
It’ll be up to you how you wish to layout your spreadsheet and there may even be a template to get you started.
Definitely keep records in a way that you enjoy. This way it won’t seem like such a chore, and it will be easier for you to keep everything updated.
4. Keep a Gardening Journal
When I stroll through stores, I love seeing all the adorable journals. Journaling is a relaxing task for many people.
It can be a way to unload your thoughts after a long day. If you’re someone who loves to journal, try this method for your gardening records.
If you enjoy gardening, journaling about it could even be a type of self-care that helps you unwind after a stressful day.
5. Keep a Gardening Picture Diary
I got this idea from my mom. Every year when she takes down her Christmas decorations, she takes pictures.
The idea is so she can scroll through them on her phone or computer the next year, so she’ll remember where everything was used in previous years.
This is a great way to keep track of your garden as well. You can take pictures of tags on plants, plants growing in specific locations, or the order in which plants are grown in your garden. All of this will help you remember, visually, how things were done the previous year.
Plus, you can create an album on your phone or on certain websites to help you keep everything organized, and it won’t take up any additional space around your home.
6. Keep a Gardening Binder
Our final method for keeping gardening records is a combination of the ideas listed above. Let’s say you enjoy taking notes, typing information in a document or spreadsheet, you enjoy keeping printed calendar sheets to mark certain things, and you enjoy keeping images.
If so, get a three-ring binder and organize everything there. You can include tabs to help you find information quickly.
Plus, you can keep a hard copy of the documents you create along with digital copies. Again, it’s important to keep a record of things you find important and in a way you enjoy to ensure you stay on top of this task.
You now have a few ideas as to why keeping records is important. Plus, you know how you can go about keeping gardening records.
If you feel like this is something you’d like to do moving forward, pick the reasons you’re performing the task, and try the method you think you’ll enjoy most.
See if you consider the additional time spent on keeping records worth the payoff you experience in your garden.