Monday, May 18, 2015

Keeping a Garden Journal

"There is a popular belief abroad in this country that holds that the most interesting things in the natural world can only be found in faraway places or specifically 
designated areas."

John Mitchell, A Field Guide To Your Own Backyard

My favorite place to visit is my own backyard. I've always been intrigued with the small miracles and amazing beauty all around me. Maybe that's why I'm a gardener. I love to be apart of the creation process. Each season has it's own beauty and mystery. In New Harmony, spring fields become an ocean of rye grass rolling like waves in the wind. What would summer be without fields of sunflowers following the sun in its path across the sky? Fall with its vivid colors of gold, red, yellow, and brown and everything preparing to rest for a season. And finally winter with dried seed heads, barren branches, and the red hills of Kolob sprinkled with snow.

Mother's day snow storm

So one of my goals as a gardener is to better understand the relationship of seasons, bloom times, weather and the appearance of pests and disease. I believe a lot can be learned from simply observing and pondering God's creations and their connections with each other.

"The naturalist wanders with an inquiring eye, pauses, ponders, notes the bloom of a prairie pasqueflower. It is a tradition that goes back to Aristotle and earlier; observing and identifying earth's syriad life forms, and discovering the connections that bind them. For those with such interests, said British, naturalist Miriam Rothschild, "life can never be long enough."
                              John Hay

A garden is an never ending, ever changing story and adventure. Keeping a garden journal helps you understand and write that story. No two seasons are ever the same. And there is something to learn from each season.

                                                                  My backyard

There are so many reasons people begin the gardening experience. Whether it is for the beauty of flowers, to create an outdoor living area, for food production, to help with the family budget, eat healthier, grow organically, build a food supply, exercise, or just to enjoy the outdoors, a journal can help you be more successful. Think you'll always remember the name of your favorite tomato that did so well in your garden or the place you bought that hard to find seed? Chances are that the long days of winter may cause some memory loss; so why not record important information in a journal.

A journal can be as elaborate or simple as you have time for and interest in. To date, my garden journal has been more of a record of what I plant, where it's planted and when I planted a particular seed or transplant. It includes boxes in my garden with a layout of the seasons plantings. I also have a a somewhat disorganized digital journal of pictures on my computer of my flowerbeds, gardens, and wildflowers to remind me of what blooms when. When I visit places, I include pictures of plantings that I find stunning and absolutely must try. Good landscaping is an art to me. I also love getting ideas for hardscaping.

So what can you include in a garden journal?

  • Sketches, if you have that talent.
  • Garden layout
  • Record of what is planted where
  • Monthly record of what is blooming
  • Monthly record of pests that arrive in you garden
  • Record any beneficial insect activity
  • Organic spray record
  • Harvest records including dates and quantities
  • Observations about the season including weather etc.
  • Record of disease issues and the weather conditions that may have precipitated the disease
  • Plant combinations you enjoy
  • Inspirational thoughts
  • Favorite books or blogs
  • Garden advice
  • Favorite garden links
  • Dates and corresponding soil temperatures so you know when to plant

What Type of Journal?

  • Three ring binder which can include clear pockets to save important info such as directions for mixing sprays, plant tags so you remember the name, and seed packets
  • A regular journal
  • Digital journal on your computer

                                                          My raised bed gardens- May 2015

Practical Reasons to Keep a Journal

Insect growth and development is determined by degree days. Degree days are a way to measure insect growth based on daily temperatures. Each insect has a low and a high temperature at which it cannot grow. Temperatures within the ideal range are times the insect will grow and develop. This is important in timing sprays and monitoring for pests especially in an orchard.

There are ideal times to apply fertilizers or pre-emergent weed control. The organic lawn fertilizer and weed control is suppose to be applied when the forsythia blooms. If I know when that is I can make sure I have it purchased to apply.

Perhaps the best reason is- if you are passionate about cultivating the land, you ought to record your wisdom and knowledge and experience to perhaps someday inspire others.

Thomas Jefferson, a Founding garden, shared what many feel.....

"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest a continued one through the year. But though an old man, I am a young gardener"(August 20, 1811, to Charles W. Peale)

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