© Abaroth 2019. Permission is given to reproduce for non-profit
Why keep a gardening diary?
On the face of it keeping a diary of your
gardening activities may seem like an unnecessary and obsessive
undertaking. However, if you want to improve the yields from
your fruit and vegetables it is a very sensible and useful thing
to do. Personally I think it is the single most important piece
of gardening advice I was ever given.
Why bother - I have a good
Many of the jobs you do in the garden are
only done once per year, and that is more than enough time to
forget details. In many circumstances, it may make little
difference, but sometimes forgetting little things can
predispose you to failure. As an example, one of my raised beds
has shown signs of "onion white rot" this year. This fungal
disease can persist in the soil for at least 15 years, and
affects the whole allium family - onions, shallots, leeks,
garlic etc. Whilst I'm sure I can remember that for next year,
I'm equally certain that I would forget soon afterward if I
hadn't written it down.
What do I put in my garden diary?
I started gardening in 2017 as a way of
helping with my PTSD whilst getting some fresh air and exercise,
and started keeping the diary from January the following year. I
made a document in a word processor on the computer, and wrote
down anything and everything relating to the garden - where I
bought seeds and plants, how much they cost, what seeds I sowed,
where I put them to germinate etc. etc. Part of this was to help
me remember of course, but it also became a sort of checklist of
things I had achieved that day, which was also an important step
towards feeling I was making progress. As time has passed, I
have written a bit less in the diary, but also taken more
photographs to help remind me.
So, what should you write in your own
That is entirely up to you, but you will
forget a lot more than you think you will over time, and if you
didn't make a note of it, that information is lost. Here are
|Seeds & Plants
cost, shop or website where they were purchased,
|sowing date, germination date,
germination rate, pricking out date, transplant date
|Bushes & Trees
|pruning date, flowering date, fruiting
date, netting against birds, moving tender plants indoors
|brand of compost, fertiliser brand and
dates, preparation of the soil prior to planting, soil pH, other
|cropping dates, weight produced,
|any pests or diseases and treatments,
watering issues, greenhouse overheating, applying weed-killer
|supplier, cost, date purchased, dates
of clearance sales
|rainfall, first and last frost dates, any
exceptional weather events like storms or extreme heat
|a simple record of when you mowed the
lawn, fixed the shed or painted the fence etc.
|seeds, crops or growing methods that
didn't work for you
What use is it?
Even if you never look at it again, the
act of writing something down helps you remember it for longer.
However, you are building up a record which will become an
invaluable reference, and if you make your diary as a computer
document, it is very easy to search for key words and find the
relevant information. Hopefully, your records will help you to
find plant varieties that perform well in your climate and soil
conditions, and avoid keep growing those which do poorly.
diary can also aid in making a gardening calendar which is
specific to your needs - much of gardening, especially growing
seasonal vegetables, is about preparation. Your records will
help to build a picture of the general climate and microclimate
where you are growing. In turn, this will help you sow and plant
out crops at the best times and extend the growing season. It should also allow
you to take action before problems occur: adding protective
netting over fruit crops at the right time, before the birds eat
the ripe fruit, for example, or adding lime to raise the soil
pH, which takes time to be effective.
Contact me with suggestions, comments or questions.