Planning is one of my favorite activities. I love it because I’m a forgetful person. There are so many thoughts rolling around in my head, I wouldn’t be able to remember them unless I wrote them down. I almost always have a notebook and pen on me – one small enough to fit in my purse. Though if you saw my purse, that’s not saying much 🙂 Mary Poppins, anyone? It’s how I stay organized. It’s where I jot down my thoughts, write down grocery lists, and create my to-do lists. Some pages have short-term items and only used for the day. Other pages include long-term goals that may take a year to complete. Writing down what’s going on in your garden can create the opportunity for success. In this article, I’m going to share with you how to plan and track your garden by using a garden planner.
I use my garden planner to plan future growing seasons, and also to track past growing seasons. That way I have a record that I can look back on to see what worked and what didn’t for future growing seasons.
Benefits of Using a Garden Planner
I took multiple courses in college where my professors recommended always keeping a notebook close by. Many well-known entrepreneurs recommend it, too. It lifts a weight off you so you do not feel pressured to remember something. And it allows us to make our thoughts and dreams a reality.
I do the same thing when it comes to my garden. I find that one of the most useful garden tools, perhaps the most important tool, is using a Garden Planner. You can also call it a notebook or journal. My current growing season’s success depends on me doing the legwork – watering, planting, pest mitigation. But my future growing seasons’ success depends on my garden planner. I design my garden on paper first each season. I keep track of what I plant and when I plant it. Were there any issues this month? Pests? Fungus? Mysterious MIA fruit? When was the first frost? What did I do right? What did I do wrong?
It’s easy to say, “Oh I’ll remember that, I don’t need to write that down, how could I possibly forget?” Until the next “oh I’ll remember that” moment. They add up. I’d rather spend my mental resources trying to figure out ways to improve instead of trying to remember details I didn’t write down.
There’s also a better chance of remembering if you write it down.
The benefits of using a garden planner include not forgetting past experiences, both good and bad. This can help you to then plan your future garden seasons. Over time, your garden will benefit from the information you’re keeping. And you will benefit from it, too, with all the food you get to eat and enjoy. Your soil quality can improve, your yields can increase, and your garden can flourish.
Tracking Your Garden
Thomas Jefferson kept a lengthy gardening journal. It spans the years of 1766 to 1824. Amazon gives you an opportunity to flip through a few of the beginning pages. Thomas Jefferson kept track of when his hyacinth bloomed when he planted his asparagus and his pea harvest yield. He kept track of what went right and what went wrong to ensure future success with his future growing seasons.
It is important not to get stuck in the past and hung up on the coulda woulda shoulda. Hindsight can be a fickle friend. But it can also be used to make the future even brighter.
When it comes to gardening, there’s a lot you can track! Here are a few ideas:
- Planting Dates
- Harvest Dates
- Produce Yield
- Germination Rates
- Seed Sources
- Pests and Pest Mitigation
- Soil Amendments and Frequencies
- First and Last Harvest Dates
- Successes and Learning Opportunities
- Photos of Your Garden!
- Photos of YOU in Your Garden!
Tracking isn’t just about making sure you avoid previous mistakes, it’s also about making sure you repeat those wins! I love tracking my harvests. How much of a yield do I get from a tomato variety compared to another? What’s the quantity? What’s the weight? Is the yield higher in the fall than in the spring? How much of a difference did using a shade cloth make? I have a little bamboo scale that I use similar to this one – Escali Kitchen Scale. I love taking my bounty and seeing how much I have. And then I record it in my garden planner.
Planning Your Garden
Are you ready to start planning and improving your garden? By using a garden planner to record what’s going on in your garden, you’re already helping yourself to remember what you should and shouldn’t do in the future. There’s a lot you can then plan based on what you’ve written down. Have you recorded your first frost date? You can use that to estimate when you should plant your last warm-season crop. Did you record how much that tomato plant produced? Great! Now you know how many plants to grow next season to make enough of your family’s tomato sauce recipe that has been passed down through generations.
As the old saying goes – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
One of my favorite ways to plan is to sketch out my garden before the season starts. I like to use companion planting and crop rotation in my garden, and planning enables me to do that. In fact, it would be very challenging for me to have that happen by accident if I didn’t record where I was planting everything, and what I had previously grown.
Planning gives me the opportunity to set myself up for success in the new growing season. It allows me to reassess my seed inventory, decide when to plant my seeds, plan new experiments, and more.
There’s so much you can plan for. Here are a few ideas:
- Garden Layouts
- Companion Planting
- Weekly, Monthly, Seasonal To-Do Lists
- Crop Rotations
- Indoor Planting Schedules
- Transplanting Dates
- Seed Purchases
- Garden Projects
Excited to start planning? I know I am!
Selecting Your Garden Planner
The first step in keeping good records for your garden is to have a designated garden planner. I feel like it’s important to keep your notes in one location so that you can easily reference them at a later date. You could use a notebook or and bullet journal where you create your own system. You could also keep a binder with some loose-leaf paper. Or you could purchase a predesigned garden planner.
If you’re a pro at keeping notes and journaling about your garden, then a notebook may work perfectly fine for you. Once you get into a rhythm it’s easy to stick with it. If you’re new to it or don’t know what to track and plan for, then I recommend at least looking at some garden planners out there to get an idea.
For those of you interested, I’ve created a garden planner.
This Garden Planner includes 30 pages that you can download and print out instantly from a PDF. It comes with the following:
- Cover page to slip into any binder you choose
- 12-month calendar for the current year
- Garden layout templates to design your garden ahead of time
- Journal pages to record your successes and learning opportunities
- Tracker pages to record specific dates and activities such as planting, harvesting, and pest mitigation
- Garden to-do lists for planning
I hope you’ve gained some ideas for using a garden planner. Has using a garden planner helped your garden? Comment below!