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  • Start a Garden Journal Now

  • By November, most gardens are winding down for the year. But before you enter the holiday whirl, consider beginning a garden journal. The perfect time to reflect on the past growing season is while its successes and failures are still fresh in your mind.
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    • Smart journaling
      "Keeping a garden journal is a very important part of your garden library," says Esther Lee, customer assistant at the Medford Grange Co-op. Record pertinent information, including plants, their lo...
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      Smart journaling
      "Keeping a garden journal is a very important part of your garden library," says Esther Lee, customer assistant at the Medford Grange Co-op. Record pertinent information, including plants, their locations and botanical names, dates planted, weather conditions, dates of seeds started or planted, fertilizing regimen, disease outbreaks, a calendar of pruning or spraying schedules, harvest yield and even pictures.

      No matter what kind of journal you decide is right for you, make it something easy to use and durable so you stay with it year after year. A notebook or file folder with plenty of pockets provides space for inspirational ideas, sketches and magazine articles. Keep receipts for plants, hardscape and labor in another location. Dividers keep it organized and efficient. Headings could include: seeds, site map, seasonal photos, weather, plant location and yields. If you choose a ring binder, bring a clipboard with loose-leaf paper into the garden daily. That way quick notes are slipped into the ring binder when back inside. Self-sticking notes keep your random (brilliant?) ideas fixed in place.
  • By November, most gardens are winding down for the year. But before you enter the holiday whirl, consider beginning a garden journal. The perfect time to reflect on the past growing season is while its successes and failures are still fresh in your mind.
    With eight acres over by Emigrant Lake, Candice Peyton swears by her garden journal. She couldn't tend the four acres she cultivates without it (four acres are naturalized). "My journals are an invaluable way of keeping track of my plant inventory, planting times, maintenance, spraying and fertilizing, and even the weather and wildlife," Candice explains. She's been journaling since moving to her property in 1994.
    "As everything in the garden is in flux, it's hard to remember such things as bloom time, floral colors, bulb locations, which perennials and bulbs to divide, and the best garden spots for particular vegetables," Candice says. She has divided her acreage into a water garden, a vegetable and flower garden, a meadow with a labyrinth, and a section for trees and bushes. Likewise, different sections of her journal specifically address each garden area. "The journals really help me a lot with maintenance as I can learn from them what did and didn't work," she says.
    Candice also keeps track of the various wildlife that visit her gardens (such as when she sees the first goldfinch of the season), and an increase or decrease in the numbers of such animals as squirrel, fox and skunks. "I've discovered that a balance takes place from year to year with the wild animals — some years we have more squirrels than others, as they are hunted by owls," she says.
    With 14 years of garden journaling experience under her belt, Candice has some great advice to pass along to any gardener wanting to start a journal. "Some larger bookstores have ready-made garden journals with various categories for such things as inventory, maintenance, planting/sowing, and bloom time," she says. "Anytime I buy a plant I keep its tag in a scrapbook, noting where I planted it and how it did," she notes. Candice photographs areas in the garden she's planning to develop so she can design the garden space before planting, and compare before and after shots. These photos are part of her journal.
    "Wintertime is when I put my feet up and go over my journals from the just-passed growing season, then start to make plans for next year," Candice says. Most of her journal notes are from April through June when so much planting is done, with notes on plant performance added throughout the summer and fall.
    "It's important to just look outside and pay attention to what's going on in your garden, such as when the leaves start to turn in the fall and when certain wildlife leave for the year," she explains. "We think we're going to remember what was planted where, but especially if you have a large garden like mine, it's easy to forget."
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