Record What’s in the Ground (Day 1 of 30 Days to a Better Garden)


Welcome to the first day of 30 Days to a Better Garden! To start the month off right, let’s start off with an easy, yet invaluable garden task: to record everything that is in the ground right now. For years we just sort of planted things without making any notes about when we planted them or what we planted, so each new growing season we had to think back to what we grew the year before and if we even liked it. A few years in a row we even regrew things that didn’t work or that we didn’t enjoy just out of bad record keeping.
The simple habit of writing things down can improve your garden immensely for a number of reasons:

  1. If you are new to gardening making a note of what you planted and where will help you remember what each plant is while it grows and changes.
  2. When you are ready to plant next year, you’ll remember what you planted this year and what worked and didn’t.
  3. As you enter further into your garden pursuit you can start to rotate your crops correctly (we’ll talk about that later).
  4. You can keep track of when you planted things so that you can start to become aware of succession planting (we’ll talk about that one later too).

Now there are all sorts of fancy computer programs that you can spend hours on perfecting and calculating, but we prefer good old fashioned paper and pen. We like the portability of our old school method because you can take it out into the garden and not worry too much about getting it dirty or a little damp from watering, unlike computer gardening planners. We have a special garden notebook that we make notes in year after year and even glue in pictures, random gardening tips and favorite seed packets. If you don’t have a specific gardening notebook, just start with a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper or the back of an envelope. Anything will do really, the goal is to get everything you have in your garden on paper so next winter when you start thinking about what to plant that summer, you have a place to refer back to.
Here’s how to record what you’ve planted:

  1. Draw a rough layout of your garden area. No need to get out the tape measures and rulers, let’s keep this simple. Just draw out garden beds
  2. Make a note of everything you have planted right now. Noting exactly what variety it is will help too.
  3. Remember when you planted everything, roughly. (Specific dates are best, but if you can remember the general week that’s better than nothing!)
  4. Later in the month we’ll revisit our plan and write down how things are growing and ‘star’ the things that you’d want to grow again next year.
  5. We’ll also write down what date you started harvesting so that if you are interested in succession planting you can know how frequently to replant.

As you can tell from the photos our note keeping is rough and far from pretty, but it is very functional and we refer to it all the time.

Now grab your piece of paper and pen and head on out to the garden, friends!


Filed under 30 Days to a Better Garden

9 responses to “Record What’s in the Ground (Day 1 of 30 Days to a Better Garden)

  1. This is a great idea….I think I need to go out to the garden tonight and start mapping everything out. It will be very helpful to have a written record for next year, rather than try to rely on my less than stellar memory.
    I went on an awesome and very inspiring garden tour on Saturday to the home and garden of John Jeavons in Willits. He wrote the “How to Grow More Vegetables” book. They document everything they grow to evaluate the results of their bio intensive techniques. It was so informative and interesting. If you can make one of the upcoming tours, I would definitely recommend it. I think you would appreciate it as much as I did.


  2. Sounds great! And I just made some changes so this will be a good time to get it down on paper. I’m a graph paper girl…so this should be fun!

  3. I’ve been wanting to do this since I began with my own gardens (just flowers and inedibles), but have yet to… now that we have planted a few veggies, I want to even more! I have some empty notebooks just waiting to be used.

  4. Okay. You’ve inspired me to get going with a much better garden journal. I have referred to my photos to help answer questions as my garden progresses. Thanks.

  5. Pingback: How to Find Your Gardening Zone (Day 8 of 30 DTABG) « A Sonoma Garden

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