The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 5, 2014

How to keep a garden journal

All our attempts at gardening are more or less personal experiments and there is no book written on gardening that will prove more helpful to you than the one you write about your own garden.

Everyone’s journal should be as different as gardens are different — and that’s part of the wonder of gardening.

A garden journal can add to your gardening success and enhance your enjoyment of your gardening activities. Depending on how much effort you want to spend on the journal, it can record as little as what you planted and when. At the other extreme, it can record every minute activity you perform in your garden, such as trimming, fertilizing, watering, and recording rainfall, temperature and hours of sunlight. It's up to you how much information, or how little, you keep. It also depends on what you expect to do with the information later.

There are three main choices for garden journals: paper, online or computer with or without software. (For a full review of all three options, visit

As a rule, it is a lot easier to start and keep motivated as you begin your journal if you split your big tasks into manageable smaller ones. Go with as much control as you can deal with combined with the amount of data you find most compelling. Remember journaling should be fun and not another chore of the garden.

Getting started

If you are using the paper or computer spreadsheet choices of garden journals, there are several methods, and you should consider which one would likely best meet your needs.

Shoebox: This broad category includes everything from nuts to bolts, kept in a shoebox, bag, storage box, or any other format where retrieval is on a 'dive-in' basis. These types of journal works best for people who want to save 'stuff', just in case, but have no idea what they'll do with it.

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