Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Most Important Gardening Tool

...Is your pen. Or pencil, or microcassette recorder, or cunieform stick with clay tablet. Anything you can take notes with.

This last blast of winter is the perfect time to set up your garden notebook. This time next year, you will be wondering which specific blueberry bush yielded the most berries, which cukes came up first, which type of tomato was the sweetest or froze the best.

Or in my case, which sunflowers were the tallest and provided the most shade for the summer greenhouse.

In previous years I've just carted spiral notebooks around the garden, and years later I can still see the dirt stains, or find pressed leaves or stems in their pages.

The last couple years, I've made notes on scrap paper out in the yard, then re-typed them into a document on MS Publisher, adding all sorts of info of other info. I always try to do this same-day, and then print out each page as it's finished, and slid it into a sheet protector (adding whatever seed packets were mentioned, or other clippings or brochures that I used).

Every notation starts with the date. This alone tells me global warming is real -I have almost 35 years of gardening data to compare. What else is important?

Specific plants, their garden location, whether over-watered or underwatered, any garden pests that seem drawn to that plant, neighboring plants (from year to year this can provide companion planting info), catastrophes (hail, wind, animals as well as recovery from said catastrophes), possible fragrances or fragrance mixes, fruit or vegetable yield (amount, plus dates of earliest and latest), amount of yield frozen or canned.

Keep the seed packet - compare your results with what was promised. Did you maybe plant where there was only 4 hours of sun, versus the required 6 hours? Makes all the difference.

Next winter, this year's garden notebook will provide you not only with a motherlode of gardening in your specific location, but it will remind you what worked, what didn't, what you want to grow again, and what you definitely *don't* want in your garden.

And best of all, looking at your notes (and pictures, don't forget photos) will remind you of exactly how incredibly sweet that first tomato is, straight off the vine.


  1. Why am I not surprised that you keep track of everything? You are the record--keeping Queen!;-)

  2. Yes. Apparently it's an addiction. ;)