What's in your garden notebook?

chmcintyreMay 25, 2007

Hi all -

I've been "playing in the dirt" on and off for about fifteen years now. This year seems to be the one where I've jumped in with both feet straight into the compost pile.

I'm just about done planting our front flower beds (well as done as you ever get when gardening). I need to organize all my information about what I planted where and how they need to be cared for etc. I've never kept a garden notebook before and need ideas on how to organize it.

What do you do? What information do you record? What type of notebook or binder do you use?

Thanks in advance for any advice!!!

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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

after 25yrs of this, i've learned the total dissatisfaction w the mess of random pages and loose bits of paper. i have to have a spiral notebook but organizing by sections i cannot handle very well.so i basically keep adding to it, with titles for each pg.And then i have to go through it to find what i'm seeking.
sample page titles:
"To Do 5/25/07" sometimes subcategorized by garden bed(with checkmarks through what is accomplished when it is accomplished) and stars next to most critical tasks////
"Fall '07 Bulbs Needed"
(i am doing this pg now, while remains of bulbs are still visible; walking around the gardens seeing where certain bulbs are needed)
"5/1/07 Foliage report": what is leafed out, what color, winter damage
"11/5/06 Foliage report" foliage colors; what trees have dropped leaves and not
"Plants needed, Perennial, and Annuals"

some printed out or scrap paper scribbles with critical info is stapled onto notebook pages for reference (when to prune certain shrubs etc.)


    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 9:41AM
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A handwritten journal is a nice, however if you want a quick reference list that you can sort, if you collect a lot of things and the list is always changing and evolving, then a MS Excel spreadsheet might be more helpful. This is how I manage the more recent plants I have purchased (over the last 5 years). In the spreadsheet, you can record all the information you want about your plants, plus where they are located...and when you move or loose something, it is easy to update/edit the list. There is unlimited room for all kinds of notes. Works for me.

I still like to journal, however I use it more so to have a conversation with myself about the gardens, exploring ideas for expansion and evolution vs. specific plant lists.

The spreadsheet also comes in handy for wish lists about different plant types...Then you can sort by size or bloom period or any other type of information you are collecting...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:11PM
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mskee(z6 MA)

I use my digital camera and file photographs on my computer.

Starting in May, I periodically take pictures of my gardens, comparing the growth and appearance from month to month. The following year, when I can't remember how they look in full bloom, I refer to the photographs.

It's also fun to look at them in the middle of January!


    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 7:48PM
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I have a desk that's bursting at the seams with 20 years worth of sketches, garden maps, receipts, plant tags, assorted small notebooks, notes on the backs of envelopes, on the backs of old bills, and on the backs of other notes.

I never had a spreadsheet, but I had a text document on my old PC where I wrote notes about what needed to be done and sometimes, about what actually got done. When that computer crashed, I lost the file, so I'm back to shoving my gardening info into the desk. I do have a lot of digital pics covering the past 3 or 4 years, and I keep copies on our web server, so I won't lose them if my current computer crashes.

I work with computers all day every day, and like to have my garden notes hand-written on paper; looking back at the old assorted jottings I can really get a sense of what I was doing/thinking when I wrote or sketched out plans. That has a sort of physical component that computer files don't quite capture. Just a personal preference, and of course it depends on your tolerance for chaos - mine's quite high!

BUT - if you're documenting your garden on your computer, remember to get a back up of the files somewhere. I should know better than to store anything on a single disk drive, but ... I'm also lazy.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 9:57PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

i also staple all my plant invoices into my garden notebook.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 1:04AM
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