The garden journal is an important component of the garden planning process. It allows the gardener to revisit last year successes and failures. This evaluation reduces the chances of repeating the same mistakes, helps create a healthier garden environment and helps reduce expensive gardening mistakes, especially for beginning gardeners.
A journal does not have to be anything fancy and can range from a simple school notebook all the way to an elaborate leather bound journal. Some gardeners even use technology to design a one of a kind garden journal that does everything for you accept plant the seed. The key to the journaling process is to pick one that works for you and one that you will really use.
Whether you are a beginning gardener or starting a new garden, the first step in this process is to draw out the garden space. Some individuals find it helpful to do the drawing to scale but that really is not necessary. The important component is that the dimensions of the garden are noted.
Do not limit yourself to the traditional idea of what a garden is. All gardens need to be planned and this includes container, mulch, and straw bale gardens along with hanging baskets, and flower pouches. Keep in mind though; that the information described below is geared for land-based gardens and in doing so will need to be adapted for other types of gardens.
Once the garden space has been drawn out, the next step is to add environmental information. The north, south, east, and west directions need to be placed on the garden drawing. General wind direction and how the sun hits the garden space during the growing season also needs to be noted.
Weather conditions are another component that needs to be added during the growing season. This includes temperature, moisture level or rain amount and any natural disaster that may have affected the garden space. Including this information will help the gardener deal with microclimate issues and help them make a more precise determination of the success of the garden.
Another environmental feature that needs to be added to the garden journal is the health of the soil. This includes pH level, soil type and any nutrient problems. This information is easily obtained through a kit that can be picked up at any local extension office.
External features surrounding the garden space also need to be added to the drawing. This information is very important since shadows from buildings, vegetation, and fences can affect the garden space. Also, noting plant material that is around the garden can help reduce the chance of plant incompatibility. A prime example of plant incompatibility is that of the tomato and the black walnut tree.
Once the garden journal has been created, the next step is deciding how much you need.