Do you keep a JOURNAL?

rouge21_gw(5)March 2, 2013

I have a plan starting this spring to record info. about our perennial gardens in a spiral notebook.

As my first 'kick at the cat' I ordered a locally produced one and we will see how it works out this season.

I have always intended to keep a record of events such as:

- the date of emergence from the ground in the spring
- date and duration of bloom

Do you keep a gardener's journal?
Is it hard copy or electronic?

What kinds of things do you keep track of or document each season?

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardener's Journal

This post was edited by rouge21 on Sat, Mar 2, 13 at 17:19

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amanda_m(z7 MD)

I don't have a fancy journal, but I have a blank book that I am using. I write notes about what I have purchased, when I started seeds. It's a place to write down ideas, to-do lists. I make little sketches in in of where things are planted, etc.

I think it's helpful. I can't remember much about what I ate last week, much less where or when I planted a bunch of tiny seeds!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Good idea to include locations of plants in the journal. Right now I have loose leaf grid paper in some cupboard showing relative locations of plants with their names (which of course I forget over the winter).

But actually my "to do lists" are in my smart phone in the memo section. In fact I see I have a list already going for fall 2013!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

A spreadsheet is awesome for that kind of thing. You can use different color writing, fill colors. Easy to alter. I have mine arranged by month for the main page. Type the name of the plant in the month you see it emerge, then put x's in the months it blooms. You can put specific dates in a column at the end, or type the dates in the month columns if you make your boxes fairly wide. I also note the year I got it, where it came from, whatever else I want to remember.

You can see at a glance when there is nothing blooming, although I'm sure there's no such time in Rogue's garden. I also have a page of columns for bloom colors, with the plants listed under those. When bunnies were an issue for me, I kept a sheet listing everything they ate so I didn't buy it again.

If you do it old-school, I recommend pencil.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 4:39PM
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purpleinopp thanks for mentioning the spreadsheet.
Electronic has got to be the most efficient way to organize such yearly information.

But the basic, 'out in the garden' collection of such information is probably most easily done by paper and pencil and then transferred or summarized on spreadsheet over the winter.

And thanks for reminding me about the need to record the date and nursery origin for each plant; for sure worthwhile data.

You can see at a glance when there is nothing blooming, although I'm sure there's no such time in Rogue's garden.

So not true! For obvious reasons I only post the good pics!

Your mention of recording infestation such as rabbits is also something I hadn't thought of...great ideas.

I just so wish I had started this at the very beginning of my gardening endeavours a few years ago as of course such information is now lost forever.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Sat, Mar 2, 13 at 17:21

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 5:16PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I used to keep a seed-starting journal, which was quite useful when I first started sowing seeds (>15 years ago). I don't journal anymore, I don't find I need to, I have a good knowledge base and excellent memory to where I don't need to write everything down anymore.

I don't keep other journals, either. Again, I have an excellent memory and can usually remember what I liked and didn't like and why, what plant had what problems, etc.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 6:29PM
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I used to keep a journal too, but gave up the idea many years ago. My biggest problem is that it stifles my sense of spontaneity. In any case, looking back at the journals now, I can't, for the life of me, figure out what it was that my then chicken scratch excuse for handwriting is trying to tell me.

Instead, I keep plant lists - these are a lot more manageable. These are not journals by definition of the word. They are databases of plants. I use a database program/app called HandBase which allows me to create databases for different plant groups. I have it installed on my smartphone, iPad and desktop so that it is accessible where able I am, including at garden shows (where they come in really handy) and nurseries.

At least, I have an organised record of plants that I have grown in the past, and new plants that I remind myself to look out for to try.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:12PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Oh dear, this is a dangerous subject for me. I love making lists. I’ve got a feeling ya’ll are going to make a lot of fun of me for all of my garden lists though, probably with good reason. LOL.

It's easier and more convenient (for me anyhoo) to do it on the computer than in a notepaper journal. If I can't log some tidbit into the computer at once I make sticky notes (and scraps of paper notes when the former are gone, and boy they are always gone, lol) about things I need to enter in.

My main lists:

A Word Doc drawn up with a table listing all the plants I have in the garden, categorized by Perennial (including Biennial and Vines), Shrubs, Roses, Bulbs. Each of those are alphabetized by genus, then cultivar if there is one. I’ve long debated whether or not I should change it to be listed from genus, species, then cultivar, but haven’t decided. There is a column each for genus, species, cultivar, common name(s), and then flower and leaf color if other than green and occasionally special atribute (crested, pendulous, miniature, etc).

Then I have a Photobucket account with similar categories, as well as whole garden pics of course. I’m trying to get pics of each plant (including close up of flowers, foliage, and whole plant pics) I have and then stow them away in the correct album so it sort of "goes with" my word doc. Naturally this is all sorted alphabetically too, LOL.

I’ve also started a Word Doc with more detailed information about each plant, including my opinion of them, their overall performance, where they are in the garden, what care they require, when I got them/how long they have been planted, and occasionally where I got them (not that I find I ever use that info…). This is still a work in progress- I’ve barely made it into the “H” section of Perennials and have a word count of 32822!!! Oy! I'm thinking about adding a section on some of the plants that have died too, listing my thoughts on them (if I can remember!) and reasons why they might of died.

Links to garden/plant related websites. This includes general info/answers to garden questions I’ve had, links to specific plant/cultivar info, links to pictures of certain plants/used in a garden setting, links to interesting garden designs & combos, links to garden art/project ideas/inspiration, and finally list of fun blogs and websites I like to frequent (when I remember).

Other lists, which I don‘t use as frequently as the main ones:

Veggies in the garden- a review of different varieites I've grown and review of taste, performance, etc.

“To Get” list

Plants to move or divide

General notes (a lot of mish-mash of things! Really ought to sort it out at some point or delete it…)

Also have a list of seeds started. This was done in my “winter sowing phase” a year or so ago. It is a little too much work for me to keep up with this one anyway.

I’ve got a few others, but they really ought to all be compiled into the notes section.

Okay, okay. That’s it ;-)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:46PM
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When I was first gardening I kept a journal of sorts. I taped my seed orders in a school scribbler I kept about a dozen pages for them and a list of perennials I had bought. Under or beside the order I would make comments during the growing season on how well the plants were doing. Whether or not and where the should be moved or grown. More or less shade. What plants went well together.

The next spring I had a reference on what seeds or plants to order or get.

In the back of the scribbler I kept a list of the plants I had grown or bought and a brief comment on each. Each time I added a plant it went in the list.

I taped a manilla envelope and I drew rough sketches of each of my flower beds with the placement of plants. These I copied on the computer and ran off copies because things changed from year to year so I had a fresh copy for each year. It made a handy reference in spring.

Now that my beds are established and I know enough about plants to know what is coming up in the flower beds the lists are not as important but I still refer to my list of perennials and my comments

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 5:38AM
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CMK, all I can say is...OUTSTANDING! I can only dream of being so organized and detailed.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:50AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I *want* to... I really want to. And every year when I have a question as to what I did or where this plant is or when it bloomed or where I got it, I really wish I had kept a journal.....

But I just can't seem to keep up with it. I've never been a journal/datebook/schedule keeper. Never had an appointment book, don't have a fancy phone to keep track of all that stuff - always been in my head.

But obviously after 15 years of gardening, I can't keep all that gardening stuff in my head. But still, l'm just not disciplined enough to make regular entries. Like dowlinggram, I too did have a notebook when I very first started gardening, and kept meticulous track of everything, but that went out the window by year three!

So now I garden by the seat of my pants, and accept the fact that I just won't always know certain things about my garden.

CMK, your post made me smile. My mother is a list-maker, lol - my goodness, the lists she makes! When she's bored, she'll sit down and make lists, of any topic imaginable - monarchs of England, the color of the shirts in her closet, books she's read. You name it, she'll list it. Maybe if she ever comes to live with me, I'll have her keep my garden journal, lol!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 8:57AM
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'Dee' wrote:

I too did have a notebook when I very first started gardening, and kept meticulous track of everything, but that went out the window by year three!

Given that you kept a detailed journal for *2* gardening seasons leads me to believe that you for sure are capable of doing this again...if you want.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:02AM
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mxk3, my memory is fine during the growing season. But by the following spring I have forgotten so much ...including plant names!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:36AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

When I was doing seed starting under lights, I created a spreadsheet each year of what I planted, when it germinated, any special stratification techniques and a simple column for notes. I was absolutely religious about entering the data and I'm happy I did. I must have at least 10+ years of data and I used it all the time from season to season when sowing seeds. It was so helpful in determining when I should plant my seeds in order to have decent sized (but not too big) plants come planting out.

I don't start seeds indoors any longer except for a couple of tomato plants and I'm not sure yet if I'm going to track my winter sowing efforts. Maybe, but probably not.

As to all the other tracking efforts, it's not for me. I'm a list producer by nature. I swear it's built right into my DNA, but I only do lists when I know they will be useful to me. To simply track more data for the sake of tracking data, makes my head hurt. I do keep incredibly detailed maps of all my gardens and what's planted where (perennials only) and I couldn't live without that. It's updated each time a plant dies, is moved or when more plants are added. That's enough for me because that's all I really need. And yes, it's all on my computer.

Instead of recording each plant and when it blooms etc. why not just take regular photos of your garden? Not individual plants, but entire beds. Date them and come winter, you could review your entire garden in a slideshow to determine peak seasons for blooms and what weeks or months or seasons are seriously lacking.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 11:07AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i never have ...

but i am finding.. that taking pix every year of the same plant .. is its own kind of journal .. as to any given plant ... or bed ...


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 11:18AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I do keep an annual journal. I started out with a spiral bound notebook, and purchased a few pretty commercial garden journals when I was starting out. I found it difficult to keep, because I had to have it where I could put my hands on it all the time, it was time consuming handwriting everything, I would stuff little pieces of paper or labels in it, then lose them, and it would get dirty or wet in the garden if I tried to write it down, 'while I was thinking of it'. But the biggest problem I had with that, was that when I wanted to find information, it took me awhile to remember where I wrote it down.

So I switched to a spreadsheet form. I do love spreadsheets. And I'm on the computer every day, so that is convenient. I use Microsoft Office for Mac. I keep it very simple. I tried keeping a number of spreadsheets, thinking it was better to organize materials by topic, but that also made it difficult to remember where I wrote what sometimes. I learned that for me, keeping it simple was the most important ground rule if it was really going to be useful.

So I decided to keep just two spreadsheets. One is a Daily Journal. I simply use one column per date. Whatever day it is that I want to write something down, I use the date as the header of the column and write down anything that I want to remember. I do use borders and different color ink and background fill colors and post photos and I love those abilities in Office. The one feature that really makes the spreadsheet useful, is the Search function. It usually takes me less than a minute to find what I am looking for. Just type in any word that describes what I'm looking for and voila. I create a new spreadsheet every year. I end it on the last day I do anything garden related and the new one gets started the first day I start thinking and planning next year's garden.

The second spreadsheet I keep is an inventory of all my plants. I love the way you can Sort the contents any way you need at the moment. I add the latin name, date I purchased, where I purchased it, where it is planted and a space for notes on each plant. I can sort by alphabet, or by date or by where it is planted, etc.

I also do what Ken does some of the time. I take photos to record a plants growth and bloom cycle, etc. If you add good information in the description of the photo, it can serve as a basic journal. I need a little more than that, but that is a great way to keep it simple if that works for you.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:32PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I should have given examples of what kind of information I include in my Daily Garden Journal:

To Do Lists
Plants To Move Lists
To Purchase Lists
Links to Garden websites
An Annual Review of the Garden Season
Special sales I've gone to and what I bought
What I want to grow in the Vegetable Garden this year
What is making me happy in the garden right now, to offset
What is not working out in the garden right now
Seed and Plant Orders
Notes from Gardening Magazines when I read them
Ideas for Renovating any section of the Garden
Plant Lists for Certain Circumstances... Dry Shade, etc.
Any research information
Photos of gardens, plants, etc. that I love

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:53PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Doug, thanks. Although, you should probably mix a bit of pity in with that amazement, LOL ;-D Don't know why, but list-making is soothing to me.

-Dee, wow, she sounds like a kindred spirit, lol. Now I think of it, I haven't done book making lists in years. Just imagine the stellar garden lists you would have if she lived with you!! ;-) Sigh...happy thoughts.

You know, a quick organizing version would be to get a binder with photo pockets and stuff the plant tag in each, along with a note card at the back with basic info. This topic came up here a few years ago and another GW member did that- it looked very nice.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 3:10PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

It's impressive to hear some of these stories of organization! I wish I could do the same, but turns out nine times out of ten when I sit down at the computer to get things done I end up surfing plant information, forums and blogs.... and trying to avoid online catalogs.

I keep a spiral notebook and once a week I try to sit down and list what's blooming, what's close and what's over.... pretty much anything interesting that's going on. Then if I actually got over my laziness and did something, I make a note of that too. Things like veggie seed starting, late frosts, first frosts, bed cleanups, etc also get mentioned.

As mentioned, pictures are great, and I try to do that too, but I still keep up with the lists.

I was an odd little kid. I still have bloom lists that go back to the 80's from my parent's house. While my friends were hitting the playground I was out measuring how tall the daylilies were and when the first rose opened. I've come so far.... the odd little kid has grown up to become quite the odd adult.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 4:32PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Kato, that is so interesting that you were paying attention to plants at such a young age. Did someone in your family have a garden? We moved a lot and no one gardened when I was growing up, so my first experience with a garden didn't happen for me until my late 20s. I've been fascinated since. I imagine everyone has a different experience on how they started gardening?

As far as organization goes, I think it's possible you end up doing what comes natural and what you really need or want to do. I write a lot in my journal, one because I forget things so fast if I don't and two because I don't really have anyone in my life who loves gardening to share with, so I write it down instead. It isn't a chore for me, I really enjoy it and don't have to push myself to do it.

So maybe those who don't keep one, just feel like they should but don't really enjoy doing it?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 4:46PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

rouge - I have used that journal for years - mainly for recording daily weather (particularly rainfall). I sometimes note bloom dates but largely rely on pictures to track what is blooming when and in what combination. I have a couple of binders where I keep plant tags - I use those clear plastic sleeves with pockets meant to keep baseball or hockey cards. I cut index cards to fit the pockets and note on them where and when I planted the plant that the tag belongs to and - when I get around to it from time to time - note if the plant died or was moved. There is one binder for the front garden and one for the back. The binders have dividers for the garden beds, so it's easy to look something up if I need to. For the most part, I can remember things, names and where they are. Since I plant things to be part of a larger 'picture', the specific name of a thing doesn't really matter much. As long at it has the right characteristics for its place in the scene, that's all that matters. If I want to use a particular plant elsewhere and can't remember what it was or can't divide it, I just find another plant that meets the needs I have for the new placement. The binders are mainly useful for when someone asks for the variety name of something.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 5:30PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Rouge, yes I did keep the journal for two years, but that was when I first gardened, had about a dozen plants in one then two beds, and only worked one part-time job outside the home.

Now I have well over a dozen beds, plus my 4 cinderblock beds, up till this year grew and sold at the market, and worked three other jobs on top of that (plus shuffling around two kids who played on a combined 5 hockey teams, one of which teams I managed for 3 years). So no, I can't do it again - or to use your word, I "don't want to" lol! Now that I'm only working three jobs and my kids are in college, I need a breather! Maybe in a year or so I'll take up the journal again, but not for now.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:26PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Yikes Dee! I really have no excuses! My weak little journal should be publishable considering my schedule....

Prariemoon, my mother is a gardener, just not as addicted as I am. I miss our mother-son trips to nurseries and gardenvisits now that she's further away. So I sit by my lonesome (LOL) writing my weekly lists and ignoring the complete disregard for plants of the other people who live here. Sometimes the kids get interested, but I'm pretty sure it's just for the worms they dig up. You might be on to something about the writing being a way of "talking" about your garden when no one else is listening.

I keep track of plant labels by throwing them into an empty flower pot. I'm sure there's a better way, but at least this way I can occasionally go through and throw out all the labels of the deceased. It's easier to pretend they never happened that way.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 8:05PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody, that is something I always forget to do, record the daily weather. How do you measure your rainfall?

That’s a lot to keep up with Dee! It’s a wonder you find time to garden at all.

Kato, that’s a shame that you and your Mom share your love of gardening but don’t live close enough to enjoy it together more. I bet you have a lot of catching up to do on visits…lol.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:08PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

pm2 - I just use one of those cheap plastic rain gauges. It doesn't really matter if it's highly accurate - as long as you use the same one from year to year, The relevant things are averages and variability. As you can see in the graph/chart below, our garden averages a little under 80mm (~3.1") of rain a month from April to October, but it's highly variable both from month to month and from year to year. If I did a weekly chart, it would be even more variable since the rain tends to come in a 'feast or famine' pattern - i.e. some weeks are very wet but that can be followed by weeks with little or nothing. Since we only do emergency supplemental watering :-), plants have to be pretty tough to survive here.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:38PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Some pictures...:

Rain records kept here:

Plant tags kept here:

(The open binder has the backyard tags; the green binder has the tags from the front garden.)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:19PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Rogue, I got your email but am unable to reply to it. Please write back and include your email addy so I can respond. The answer to your question is yes. Sorry for my delay in posting this.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:47PM
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Kevin wrote: Instead of recording each plant and when it blooms etc. why not just take regular photos of your garden?

I take tons of garden pictures but given the large # of perennials, photos would not suffice to accurately document the start and duration of individual plant's start and duration of bloom. I will record in writing such information this season.

woodyoak wrote: Plant tags kept here:

Impressive 'woody'. I do keep my tags and the corresponding receipts for plants whose nursery does provide a warranty. But I am a bit embarrassed to show you that all of this goes into a ziploc bag :(.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:16PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

rouge - my tags sit in a plastic pot until I'm bored one day in the winter - then I do up the tags for the binder. (I can usually still remember by then where they all were planted...!)

I don't bother keeping receipts - even if there's a warranty, I figure that, if the plant died, it was most likely my fault for either planting something not suitable for where it was placed, or I neglected it! So I have never claimed on a warranty.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:28PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

I actually do exactly what Woody does with my plant tags. Just buy baseball card holders and have a 3-ring binder to hold them all. I have the ziploc, too, though. That is for the plants that, well, had a short life and I want to remember not to purchase again.

This is a bit "overzealous", as my husband likes to call it. I think most others call it anal, LOL, but I don't journal, but I do keep drawings of my gardens using Adobe Illustrator. I REALLY like to have a plan for my garden, I find that the plunk and go method just doesn't work for me. Here is a low-quality version of one of my plans. I know, WAAAYYY over the top!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:18PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Wow, you guys are so organized! I had the baseball card thing and kept the plant tags as well when I first started out. Maybe "someday" I'll have time and get my act together. I really would like to be more organized and have better information on my garden and how it performed, etc. - and I'd love to have diagrams like funnnthsun! - for reference, etc.... I guess I just don't want it enough right now to take the time to do the work needed.

In the meantime, my desk remains littered with the bits and pieces of my two favorite hobbies - gardening and genealogy. I've got garden center receipts and seed packets, coupons (most likely expired!) from Bluestone, and bits of paper with plant lists and garden websites mixed in with the scraps of paper with genealogy links (and even worse) scraps of paper with names, dates and microfilm numbers on them - dates of what or who, I forgot weeks ago, lol.

I guess we all have our own styles. Thanks, rouge, for starting this thread. It's been a lot of fun!


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:38PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA


-Doug, do I see a Thalictrum 'Evening Star' tag there??? Awesome. Please do let me know what you think of it someday- would love to compare notes. I ended up moving mine to a better (moister/richer soil) last year. It will be interesting to see if it bulks up more here, which it didn't do in the former location.

Ps. WOW to woodyoak for that rain graph! Great job too funnthsun- very impressive.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:48PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I kept seed germination records with dates sown/ germinated my first year wintersowing, then realized it didn't really matter to me.

Blooming records don't matter to me much either because I am more about just having certain plants and getting them to grow, rather than going for a certain look color wise. I think I only moved a plant once due to a "color clash". It was a cool dark purple iris right next to a warm dark purple allium and it just bothered me for some reason.

I don't track the weather because I figure I can just look on one of the weather sites where they have all the historical weather data in various formats, which is enough for me.

I do take A LOT of pictures and have them sorted by date. I often go back to see what a certain area looked like in previous seasons or years. Plus I just like to look through them in the dead of winter to remind me that spring is coming :)

One thing I do keep track of in a somewhat anal way is my seeds. Once I started collecting my own seeds and doing seed swaps where I get hundreds of packets I realized I needed some organization.

I have an Access database where I record my plants common and latin name, all the growing info, if it is native or a host plant, and if I can get viable seed off it. I also save a link to the website where I got the info from so I can quickly get back to it. From there I can check off which plants to add to a generated tradelist, or print out bulk labels for my seed packets. I initially made the database just for the plants I was collecting seeds off from, but then decided I should add all my plants as an inventory of sorts.

One of these days I plan to generate a meaningful code for each plant and then use those codes to label some wide photos of garden beds from different angles and seasons. Haven't gotten around to that yet. I can pretty much keep track of that part mentally now, but thought it would be nice to have the plant list and labeled bed photos to hand off to someone else.

I don't usually add new plants/seeds to the db until it has survived a while. For annuals I only add them if I plan to collect seed and grow them again. It sure saves me time come seed trading time and makes for more readable labels because my handwriting is not great.

I have my seed packets in a three level plastic storage click together box with dividers in it. There is a box/level for veggies, annuals, and perennials. All but the veggie seeds are sorted by latin name which is forcing me to learn them. I throw any silica gel packets I find in there too. I record the year collected on each packet and try to remember to add a "year obtained" to any packets I got in swaps that didn't have one. Then I know it is at least that old.

I also keep a quick sketch of the veggie garden for each year, so I can make sure I'm rotating my crops.

I make lots of garden to-do lists, but usually only complete a small portion of the things. My lists are overly-ambitious both with time and $$ I guess. I am a list maker by nature, but a sloppy one. I always have little scraps of paper all over my desk.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:10AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

This thread really has been fun and an education. I love all the photos of what everyone is doing for organization.

Woody, that Rainfall graph is fascinating. You certainly know how to use your software and I imagine you get a lot out of your efforts.

rouge21, you are doing the most important part, saving everything and putting them all together. I save mine, but in 25 years, I think I've gone back and consulted them about 3 times. I usually add all the information to my spreadsheet and I consult that all the time.

funnthsun, another gardener who knows how to use her software. Great job! I’m sure that makes things a lot easier and productive.

molanic, yes, seed trading seems just about impossible without some organization.

These are examples of the two spreadsheets that I use just to illustrate the easy format:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 6:54AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody, how did you post two photos in the same post? I tried holding down the command key to select more than one, which didn't work, then I tried choosing two files, one after the other, but only one showed up.

Here is my Daily Garden Journal:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 6:57AM
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CMK wrote: Doug, do I see a Thalictrum 'Evening Star' tag there??? Awesome. Please do let me know what you think of it

Good to notice this tag!

The one you see I planted this past season. But I had another one in the ground from a year or two earlier.

I had heard so much about it as a great shade plant but that first one, although it has survived a couple of winters, it is "scrawnier" than I think it should be. The new one has been placed in a garden which will receive more sunlight. Maybe that will help.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:54AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

The rain record graph is just done with Excel - very simple to create from the table of monthly rain totals. I keep my own rain records because there is no near-by weather station that is representative of the rainfall here. We are in the 'rain shadow' of the Niagara Escarpment. It is common for us to watch rain clouds approaching on the weather radar - and see them drop all their moisture on the west side of the Escarpment (or divert north around the Escarpment), leaving not a drop of rain for us! Since we are also close to Lake Ontario, that heavily influences the weather also and where exactly you are along the Lake can mean significant differences in precipitation and temperature. The nearest weather stations are in sufficiently different geography that they are not representative of the conditions in our garden - so we keep our own records....

GW was stupid to add the picture-loading ability - but then limit it to one picture! That makes no sense at all. (I think they may be trying to get people to use the GW gallery thing - see the Suggestions forum....) I still use my Picturetrail account for loading pictures and then copy the relevant codes into GW to post multiple pictures.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:54AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Wow, I have got to learn how to use a spreadsheet! Love your journal, prairiemoom2. Especially that you can add photos to your spreadsheet.

I'm still using my BC, before computer, methods. All my plant info goes into large binders. I punch holes in the plant tags and put them with the info. Several times during the year I go through the binders and make handwritten notes about the plants' growth and/or bloom. Receipts are in a file folder in my desk file drawer marked Garden 2013 or appropriate year.

I started keeping sketches of my garden after unknowingly digging up a few late emerging plants and weeding out unfamiliar seedlings.

I also have files of plant info and photos on my computer for reference.

Seed inventory and plant germination are recorded in Word files and/or in a paper notebook. To Do lists are kept on a scrap of paper on my desk and discarded when items are crossed off or moved to a new list. I just started a To Do list on my computer.

I've often thought of keeping a daily paper journal and even have an empty journal. Mostly it seems impractical for me as I have so many plants and am concerned about the mess of water spots and dirt smudges as I am a messy gardener. (I often wonder how a person can garden and look spotless.) And the time, I already spend hours and hours each day working/playing in the garden. The last three years I have made a weekly chart to keep track of clematis blooming times. With over 80 clematis that takes a bit of time and I have found that it often does not get done, though each year I vow to do better.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Oh absolutely.....for at least three weeks. Every year, I start a journal and, because it is January, I have no problem writing in it. Heaps of time and everything is still just potential. By February, the entries are getting a bit sketchy but there is often a big burst of activity around March when most of the sowing gets done. By the end of March, things are getting a bit hectic and the entries tail off - either ridiculously brief or great gaps. If there are any entries by May, I must have been confined to bed or summat because there is definitely no time for writing about anything, what with the picking and jamming, endless weeding, tying, trimming, faffing and general feverish mayhem. I usually attempt a retrospective in October, once everything is calm again (mainly because this is the bare root and autumn planting season starting so it's all big ideas again) but I cannot sustain much of thaand besides, I am getting fed up of it all.
These journals tend to hand around the shed or the greenhouse so I often check out previous years stuff......and behold, they are ALWAYS THE BLOODY SAME. Oh, for sure, the plants might be different, but I tend not to write about specific plants, but waffle on much more about slacker neighbours and their weedpits, robbing seed companies, the hideous weather, my idle offspring, the deaths and other epic fails, the resolutions to DO BETTER NEXT YEAR......every single year, since 1997. Grief, I must be the dullest person on the planet.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 6:00PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I've gotten such a kick out of this thread! Love to see not only everyone's methods (or lack thereof!) but also the sense of humor! Campanula, your whole post made me laugh, and Molanic, your "scraps of paper all over the desk" warmed my disorganized little heart, lol. (although, in my defense, I do have to say that I usually know exactly which scrap of paper I wrote what info on!)

Am I missing something with woodyoak's rain graph? I'm seeing a photo of some gardening books on a shelf, and there is an open notebook of some sort laying flat, but I don't see any graph...??

Nice work, PM2! Your notes are as lovely as your garden!


    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 7:34PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Woody's rain graph is above the book & notebook posts.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 7:51PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks woody for that explanation. I have stopped using tinypic because I see you can’t click on them and get a larger view, so I’m stuck with using GW’s application. I am not storing any photos online at the moment.

My spreadsheets are on Excel, but I haven’t tried the graphs yet. Not sure I could be that consistent to always remember to record the weather often enough to make it helpful. I do have a local weather station that is close enough to use their records and I guess that’s been enough for me right now. I can see why you really need your own records.

mnwsgal, if you have the software you will be amazed at how easy it is to do. I can drag and drop photos into Excel, and the borders and background colors are a click on the toolbar. My journal was basic text for awhile, until one of my kids showed me about the photos etc, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it since. Actually, if you already have BC methods, there are advantages… at least you won’t lose all your information if your computer has a meltdown. The other thing I want to mention is that I do have a small garden. 1/4 of an acre would not allow for 80 clematis and so keeping records would be a lot less time consuming for me. Plus, just taking care of 80 clematis would probably keep my journal pretty empty. Who would have the time!

Campanula, I’m with Dee, quite the sense of humor! lol

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:30PM
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funnthsun wrote: but I do keep drawings of my gardens using Adobe Illustrator.

Actually it doesn't look much better than my map of one of our gardens I have posted below ;).

'funnthsun' that work you have posted is incredible!

I am curious as to the learning curve to use "Illustrator".
But even if it is very easy it is ridiculously expensive...yes?
What do others like using as a much less expensive but still effective drawing program?

This post was edited by rouge21 on Tue, Mar 5, 13 at 21:15

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:35PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

No, it wasn't much learning curver for me at all, because I use Photoshop A LOT and it is intuitive if you know Photoshop. I am not sure what the individual cost is, I do web design, so have to have the Adobe Suite for that already, so I was just looking through the programs that I never use that came with the suite that might work for my planning and found Illustrator. Really, really happy with it and the control that I have. I have to say, I have been looking for a good program that would allow me to show flower placement for YEARS and have played with all of the free ones that are available and I mean ALL. They were just not what I wanted. They were always lacking in control or consistent performance, etc. Illustrator is everything that I have been looking for all of these years. The funny thing is that I have had it all this time and never thought to apply it to gardening! Duh!

As with any drawing program, you can keep notes around the edge of the actual printing area and they don't show up in printing. I like that, too. For me, I think it would be worth the cost for the control that it gives me and ease of use. But, again, that is coming from a Photoshop background and most programs are pretty easy for me to learn. It may not work for everyone but it is a dream for me!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 9:33AM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

OK, I just looked up the price of Illustrator. OMG! I get my suite package at a discount, I don't think it is worth that retail tag, nothing is! But, if you are lucky enough to get it at a discount, as I do, then it is the way to go.

This post was edited by funnthsun on Wed, Mar 6, 13 at 9:42

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Great looking documentation Prairiemoon2.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:12PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

funnthsun, I was curious when you mentioned the price of that Illustrator program and looked it up. OMG, is right! lol I did not know the creative software suites had gotten so expensive! Thanks for sharing what it looks like to use that program though. I’ve wondered if there was a program out there worth having but I didn’t really make any effort to look for one. It’s nice to know that you did try a lot of programs and that this is the one you liked the most.

Thanks Dee and rouge21, and thank you for starting this thread. I enjoyed reading about what everyone does and why. Especially the photos were really interesting. I hope it helped you figure out what you wanted to do, rouge21. I would enjoy hearing how it works out for you this growing season. :-)

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 6:49AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

The real estate agent who sold my house 25 years ago sends annually a soft bound calendar with 2 pages per month. I record emergence times for things like bulbs, chiefly lilies. Then bloom times and end time for various plants. I can see where the gaps are and try to plan something for in between. Without this, I would never remember when stuff bloomed.

Then I shoot photos to document during the whole season. I do it more when the bulbs are blooming. So when they are dormant, I don’t accidentally put a shovel into them.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I record emergence times for things like bulbs, chiefly lilies. Then bloom times and end time for various plants. I can see where the gaps are and try to plan something for in between. Without this, I would never remember when stuff bloomed.

At the least that is what I will do this season....emergence and bloom time for as many of the perennials as I can keep track of.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Don't know if anyone is still following this thread. But I've gotten some good ideas. I started organizing my gardening stuff about 3 years ago.....out of necessity. I am forgetful. And I got sick and tired of having to stop, go back in the house get on the computer and look up stuff. So now I have one notebook where I keep general info like instructions on pruning and dividing perennials, fertilizing lawns, and clever ideas I see in garden magazines, just anything rather general.

I have another notebook where there is a page for each plant that contains a picture and growing info, and a description of a location. In that notebook I also have a bar graph type chart of bloom times for the different plants in my yard. That let me see at a glance that I needed to plant something to bloom at a specific time of year. I also have started working on putting photos in there taking of different section of the garden on the first of each month. I also have made a rather detailed chart of actual locations of my plants that shows me how large the plant will eventually grow. It's not that I am organized, it's that I was driving myself crazy with forgetting information. I've also got a sheet in there to tell me what has to be pruned in the spring, summer, or deadheaded during the year, or cut back in the winter. I've also started a diagram to show where the shade/sun is in my yard during the year....again this is out of desperation because my tree is growing and I'm trying to figure out where it is a good idea to put another raised bed for veges.

Along with this I am keeping a very simple journal where I just jot down info like when did I fertilize, what did I use, where I had a problem develop and what I think caused it, I'll note what plant I might want to rip out and what I might want to replace it with, what needs to be moved, general info on the rain (lots or little) and if the temps were unusual, when the hummers showed up. I'm actually pretty surprised at how incredibly useful the info is to me the next year. And I really wish I had started this many years ago. The two notebooks are something that basically only I work on in the winter when I can't be outside gardening. It keeps my mind going! And by the way, I'm not normally a terribly organized person by any stretch of definition, so this all surprises me. I think every person has to find the method that works for their own unique way of thinking. I don't think I could buy something someone else had developed and have it work for me. If I did I would end up giving up on it pretty quickly.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Excellent post ala8south...thank you.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 1:28AM
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