How to Create Your Own Practical Garden Journal That’s Easy to Use

You can easily create a garden journal that you will actually use.

Smart gardeners have journals. That’s what I was told. I don’t like keeping journals, so I didn’t do it. Why should I? Just plant the seeds, water, fertilize, and harvest the food! But, as the years went by, my amazing garden was not so amazing anymore. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I decided that I needed to keep track of what was working and what wasn’t. And since I didn’t like keeping records, I needed to create a garden journal that was practical and easy to use.

Garden journals can make a garden the best garden ever

That was the beginning of making a garden journal that is not only a great keepsake, but the notes I take from year to year have given me the information I needed to make my garden amazing again. My garden improved as I paid attention to my journal notes. Random notes scribbled on yellow notepads were hard to decipher so I developed a method of garden journaling that is easy to maintain. 

Not all garden journals work for everyone

You may have used garden planners. You start them with the hope that you will fill in all the blank spaces with your own plans. Garden maps are a great way to plan your garden. But my experience has taught me that you need a planner AND a garden journal. I’m going to let you in on a secret. Planners are important but they don’t have to be expensive. Most importantly, you need to be able to keep track of what you did and when you did it without it being complicated. Your journal is where you record all that action in, so it needs to be easy to navigate. A garden journal is meant to make your life easier. You need to be able to quickly see your notes about the garden in general and notes about the individual vegetable or fruit.

The real reason why you need to create your own garden journal

Another factor to think about is that what works for one person may not work for you. If you don’t keep track of what works for you specifically, you may fall into the cycle of constantly ditching what you observed for yourself and follow another garden blog or article by someone who did keep track of what they did. Gardeners like me love to share how to successfully grow veggies. But, ultimately, you have to become the best judge of your own garden needs. Only your notes are completely for you! 

Your own personalized garden journal can be enjoyed.

Can you imagine actually looking forward to recording and reading through your garden journal? When you find yourself getting results and not repeating the same things that didn’t get results, you will look forward to writing it out. My garden journal is somewhat of a diary as I write things like, “don’t grow this much lettuce next year” or “we decided that we don’t like kale”. I know that seems silly, but you see, I am a rather ambitious gardener and I want to grow more than we can eat. And, it’s more work, so less work is good. Let’s get started on making your own garden journal.

How to create an easy, organized garden journal step-by-step

Open your favorite word processing program. I use Google Drive. Open a blank document. Give it a title. How about-My Garden Journal! Now you are ready to create the rest of your garden journal. Here are the suggested pages you need.

The garden journal pages are in a specific order.

Notice that, starting with “Flowers”, the individual pages or topics you will have are in alphabetical order. This will make it easy to navigate. You will want to make those titles a larger font and, if you like, make them bold. One day, your journal will be miles long and you will want to find your sections easily. Bold is easy to find when you are scrolling. The last section is labeled, “Maps” but you can put your maps at the beginning if you like. More on maps later.  

  • Seed Sources
  • Flowers
  • Fruit Bushes
  • Fruit Trees
  • Herbs
  • Vegetables
  • Maps

Exact instructions for the individual pages of your garden journal.  

Seed Sources and General Notes

On your first page, Make a title, “Seed Sources”. Skip a line or two and enter the year and list the sources of where you purchased your seeds. The reason for doing that is because it is of utmost importance to note the germination rate of the seeds as soon as you can.

Not all seed companies are created equal!

I’ve purchased seeds from all kinds of companies and local seed suppliers. How disappointing to find out by experience that a variety or a whole shipment had a very poor germination rate. If you don’t make a note of what the results were, you may forget whose company you would buy from again and whose you wouldn’t. 

Don’t forget to list your own supply in the seed source list. You might say something like “freezer-seeds left from (date, supplier)”. If you save your own seeds from a heritage variety, label the packet carefully. Put dates on your seed packets if you want to store them. I highly recommend that you double bag them and put them in the freezer.  Then, when you get them out of storage to use, you will have corresponding notes in your garden journal to match the seed packet.

For just a little

A garden journal is exactly what you need to keep track of what worked and what didn’t. All this is done for you! For just a little, you can get a printable document that’s got you covered from your seed wish list to your harvest records. There are 39 pages of charts, record keeping, garden map grids, and lots of pages for your garden journaling about the garden in general as well as the individual veggies and fruit that you are growing. It’s only $4.99! You can find out more details and order it here and get started right away. (A digital version is also available in the shop.)

Treat the rest of this journal like a diary. 

How to enter your notes into the general notes area

Skip a space or two after your seed notes. Create a title, “General Notes”, make the font bigger, and make it bold if you want. First of all, put the date right under the “General Notes” section just below the list of seed companies you purchased your seeds from. Skip a line and pretend you are writing to someone-because you are! Write out when you planted, how long it took for the seeds to germinate, any problems that you notice, and happy little successes.

Skip a line and begin recording how you prepared the bed before you planted veggies in it. Make note of any amendments that you added to the soil and any actions you took to prepare the bed. You want to track this information. You will later note in the same place with a new date and any further amendments you made. This will help you to know how to make any adjustments for future preparations. 

What kind of note will be valuable?

Remember, this is the general notes section. It’s the “big picture” of your garden that season. For example, the way I prepare a bed for corn is different from how I prepare for beans. Tell yourself things like, how long it took to prepare the bed and what the weather was like. I make careful notes about the temperatures and rain. 

For a quick example, read my article about how to prepare your vegetable beds. I talk about how to do that and include what particular types of veggies like in their bed. How to Prepare Your Garden Soil for Planting

Keep adding notes to your garden journal

Skip a line and add a new date as the season progresses. Here are some notes that I recorded several years ago. You can see the progression of the general Spring garden notes. NOTE: They are general notes. This is not where you put detailed notes about the individual veggies (or other plants). Those details go on the next pages. More on that later. 

These are personal notes from my own general notes pages in my garden journal that has proven to be very helpful in the following years: 

May 2017 The yellow squash, green zucchini, and cucumbers all had lots of male flowers and little if any female. The cucumbers look like they MAY have a few. All ended up with disease. I will be treating with neem today. 

June 2017 Cucumbers, yellow squash, and zucchini had very few squash. Yellow zucchini was prolific, watermelon had none. Neem helped the cantaloupe but not the cucumbers. 

My notes for next garden season: DO LESS! Suggestions are no more than 2 beds of corn, 1 each of golden queen and silver queen. 6-8 yellow zucchini plants. Try bush fordhooks again as vines don’t seem to do any better. But plant at least ½ bed. 1/3 bed of zipper and 1/3 bed of b e peas. ¾ bed of tomatoes, with 3-4 plants of beefsteak type and the rest roma vf. Try cucumbers again, melons, and ½ bed of tiger eye. (See notes in these categories.) Only 1`/2 bed of green beans with about 1/3 of that being italian. I think one less bed of garden altogether, at least, leaving the bed at the farthest north perhaps for flowers. Plant corn and tomatoes in center due to water pattern. 

The Specific Garden Journal Pages  

Set it up first

I will concentrate on the vegetable page as an example. You will want to make entries the same way on all the other pages. On the page that says, Vegetable, put the name of your vegetable. Make it bold. (As you add more names of vegetables, you will want to put them in alphabetical order.) Skip a line and put the date. I specifically record in this order: season, year, month, date.

Add your notes next

Begin by saying when you planted and/or transplanted the veggie.  Then, add notes as the season progresses. Include amendments, the health of the plant, any disease or pest that you had to deal with and what you did or didn’t do for that situation.

Add more notes in your garden journal

Fill in all the information that is important to you in that season’s notes. Skip a line and enter more notes under a new season break. Continue building your notes for each vegetable that season.  

Here is an example of a specific garden journal page entry I made about bell peppers one year. 

Jan. 2017 I started Jupiter Sweet Bell Pepper from seed from Southern Exposure. Old seed did not sprout, had to buy new from SE. April 12, they seem to be just sitting there 4 weeks after transplanting. IDK why they aren’t growing much. 4/27 they are finally growing. Seem to be healthy. Late May, short but healthy bushes. Lots of medium-sized bushes. 6/17 they gave about a gallon altogether. Next year, start by the end of December, potting up if needed.

A well-organized Garden Journal will provide a quick reference

As you continue adding to your garden journal, your journal will grow. After six years of journaling in google docs, my journal is now thirty-five pages long. I can easily scroll through and find what I am looking for because I the headings are in a larger font and they are bold

The garden map

Finally, You definitely want a garden map or plan. I suggest printing it out so you can take it to the garden with you. I have included that in the garden planner. It’s so convenient. But, I will tell you a secret. My garden maps are smudged from being in the garden for my live edits and that is just fine! I can flip through my pages from previous years to make sure I am planting certain veggies exactly where it will be best for them. From my experience, I know which crops should follow another crop.

It is essential to create and keep your garden maps

Crop rotation is one of the best ways to combat garden disease and soil depletion. One crop takes nitrogen but not a lot of phosphorus, another adds nitrogen but takes potassium. Your previous seasons of garden maps will help you keep track of what you planted in different beds. It will be essential as you amend the beds for your particular veggie. 

Your garden journal is easy to set up, and will be easy to navigate if you use these simple instructions!

For just a little bit, $2.99, I created a garden journal and planner that’s all ready for you to print or get your own editable copy. It has everything you need.  Here’s the page: My Garden Journal

Make your own garden journal, or buy mine. Your garden and your table will be bountiful as a result.

A photo of the author, Deborah Schreffler

Debbie Schreffler

Veteran Homeschooler, avid gardener, and proud grandma

I believe that you can design a peaceful lifestyle while you homeschool, complete with a garden if you want, and meals that will make the best memories you ever could imagine!

I homeschooled seven kids through high school, starting them all with a lot of planned, hands-on activities. Then, I centered subjects around the activities. That gave them lots of room for their natural curiosity to be satisfied as they learned about God’s world.

Let me help you teach kids, grow food, and stay calm!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.Mat 6:33 CSB

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