Journaling has become a popular pastime. I use to write early morning thoughts into a journal to rid myself of the squirreliness I might have and to clear my head for the day’s creativity. These days though, I kick start my brain by doing the Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle first thing in the morning and my journaling just stopped. A garden journal should be taken a little more seriously. It is vital to keep track of what you observed in your garden and how your plants and beds did for the past growing season. There are several reasons why you should journal or least keep track of your garden. Here are a few of them:
Monitoring Insect and/or Disease Problems
I had a horrible infestation of mealy bug this year due to the heat stress my plants went through. We had an unbelievably hot and humid summer! Do I know exactly when I observed them? No, because I didn’t write it down. However, I remember how I handled it. It nearly destroyed my sun coleus and some of my gerber daisies. I had to cut back all the vegetation, hose the remainder of the plant down with a stiff spray of water and put them in a quarantined area in my garden. Next year I will make sure to check my plants a little more closely as the stress level (both mine and the plant’s) increase and before any insects get a head start and to WRITE THE DATE DOWN IN MY JOURNAL! Mealy bug is very difficult to treat as this insect can hide in cracks and crevices and they have many generations waiting to be hatched!
I also had the signs of other critters in my garden, mainly tea scale and it was quickly taken care of before it overtook my Banana Shrub (Michelle figo) with a pyrethrum-based pesticide.
Recording your Successes/Failures
TAG, YOU’RE IT!
A very good way to keep track of your plants is to keep all the tags – particularly of those that are new to you (don’t buy a plant unless it has a tag). Plant tags of the failures are just as important to keep because if the plant failed, you don’t want to buy it again. Plants are too expensive! I have boxes of tags that I have kept over the years. I look at them before I set out shopping in the spring and fall to make sure I don’t make the same mistake as I did in previous years and to make sure I get more of the plants that were successful. I keep them separate by year and by time of year.
Here are some of the tags of what I have planted this fall: (I’ll be showing you how these plants progress throughout the months ahead )
As I sit here at my computer, I have a small pile of tags that I am reviewing from my summer containers and gardens. I look at them and make a mental note on how they did. Now, as I get older, making a mental note is probably not the best way to keep track, but I do have journals waiting for me so I promise that I will write something down, somewhere, sometime!
Since the invention of the camera phone, it has become much easier (and cheaper) to journal your gardens through photography. I take tons of pictures all year long of my containers and my garden. An added bonus – the date is recorded for you. Nothing says it better than a picture!
Above is a picture of a container I put together a few springs ago. It has a marguerite daisy (yellow), a supertunia (pink), an African daisy (white daisy plant with dark eye), scaveola (blue trailing) and an eupatorium (small white plant in the upper right hand corner). This did great for about six weeks. Thats it! The scaveola and the eupatorium were the only two plants that survived the summer. The scaveola died by August; eupatorium lasted until the following spring; everything else died. This was a pretty container but this picture is a reminder to me not to do this again because several of the plants cannot survive in our climate. I can replicate the look by using different plants with the same colors; which I have done. Although I did not actually write down how this container did, I still remember not to buy African Daisy’s as they do not do well in my growing zone. Matter of fact, you no longer can find them here. I still try different marguerites, hopefully I’ll find one that will live here throughout the summer.
Here is a stack of my garden journals….ALL COMPLETELY EMPTY! I buy journals because they look nice or I get them as gifts. Garden Home journal is even autographed by the author, P. Allen Smith. That particular journal has sleeves in it for your labels. I always have good intentions of writing things down, but by the end of the day, after being on my feet, sitting down and writing about whats going on in the garden, is something I don’t think about doing. It is important while you are writing in journal that you make note of the weather, how much rain you’ve had, the temperatures, etc. It is also beneficial to keep track of where you purchased your plants, even the names of sales people that helped you at the nursery. I live in an area that does not have the nursery trade like that in an urban area. It is frustrating for me to read about a great new plants only go to a nursery and it is not offered. I have traveled many miles to get what I want!
These journals are good looking and look great sitting on my shelf in my potting shed; but they are blank….for now. Perhaps a winter project, while my garden rests.
If you still can’t find the time to write in your garden journal, simply dictate it to Siri and have her put it in your Notepad App. 😉
Do you write a garden journal? Drop me a note and tell me how you keep track of your garden – I’d love to hear from you! Email at email@example.com