This part of the gardener’s year I find my record keeping to be more meticulous than in late spring or summer. Every year I hope this will change and I will keep records of bloom and yield as carefully as I now note seeding, germination and transplanting. I know how valuable these early spring notes are and I believe that later notes would prove equally helpful.
My plots and records have evolved. I recently happened across a plot of a garden from several years ago. At the time I took special delight in the “illumination” of the plot. Dotted with colorful little blobs meant to represent lettuce or tomatoes, these plot plans were fun, though not so accurate, and lacking much real information to help me the following year.
So many tools are available now to the garden record keeper. Cook’s Garden has, in past years, offered a five year garden journal. Though it is already out of stock this year, I recommend this format if you take small notes. One page per day is divided into five sections, enabling you to see what you were up to in past years.Seeds of Change offers their beautiful Garden Cycle, a weekly format journal that has a special place to record weather information. The journal is also available at Pinetree. And the kind folks at Seeds of Change also offer an electronic version of the Garden Cycle, free at their site with registration.
And speaking of weather information, Weather Underground provides weather data summaries for local data. Each day’s actual and average minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation are shown in a printable monthly calendar format. For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, Agrimet provides extensive historical weather information which includes what appears to be every measurable weather phenomenon known to man! This is provided in a space delimited format, ready to copy into Excel, convert to columns and sort in whatever way suits your needs.
Ah, Excel. I use this program to track seed orders, seeding, germination and weather. Kathy, at Cold Climate Gardens, suggests using a spreadsheet for the catalog comparison shopping ritual, finding the best price, factoring in shipping etc. Excel is also useful for drawing up a plot plan, though some creativity is required for irregularly shaped plots.
If one is not inclined to use a spreadsheet many garden planning programs are available with a range of prices. Garden Manager, Garden Organizer Deluxe and My Garden Journal are a few. Though I have not used these the descriptions are very tempting.
The variety of resources available for garden planning gives the gardener more choices than a few years ago. Good record keeping makes for a better garden and finding a way that suits your particular style makes the task easier and maybe even fun!