Every year I keep a list of things I want to do better in the next year’s garden. Every year ‘keep better records’ is on that list. I’m still figuring out what ‘better’ means for me.
At first I tried journal entries for each day’s work. This was fun in March and April, but by August I felt too busy to write. And the next winter it was hard to get information quickly out of this log. Now I use a just a few quick-reference records.
My map shows where I’ve planted things. I need this to plan crop rotation so that the soil doesn’t get depleted and diseases don’t recur. I’ve assigned each garden bed a letter to avoid confusion.
In my calendar I record what I planted when and (for greenhouse seedlings and big plants) how many of each type I planted. I also note fertilizing dates, first and last har-vests, etc. This gives me a sound basis for planning next year’s planting dates and amounts.
Instead of a calendar, my mother keeps a chart showing each year’s planting dates alongside observations like when different tree leaves begin to open, when peeping frogs start singing, and so forth. This can be better than a bare record of dates, since spring comes earlier in some years than others and this affects planting date decisions. Tuning into these kinds of clues has me planting potatoes when the first dandelions bloom.
I keep copies of my seed orders to remind me of what varieties I tried each year.
My harvest record tells me how many quarts of tomatoes, pounds of potatoes, and freezer bags of apples we were able to put up for the winter.
Finally, I keep a notebook for miscellaneous observations: this type of kale resisted mildew well, that didn’t; we had too much summer squash, not enough green pepper; next year I must keep better records.
Here are some links to some other gardeners’ record-keeping ideas to help you figure out what might work well for you: