Keeping a Journal for Garden Planning

By: Monica Resinger

This is the time of year when the seed and plant catalogs come pouring in and we can browse through them and start dreaming up our gardens for this year. A little planning will help you get what you want out of your garden and save you some time, money and frustration. A garden journal can be a very valuable tool when planning your garden. You can keep your garden journal in a spiral bound notebook, or anything that appeals to you. The bookstores have journals made especially for your garden if you want to get fancy.

The first thing you want to do when planning your garden is to figure out what you want out of it. A great way to do this is to ask yourself some questions and take note in your journal. Some questions to ask yourself are: Do you want fresh vegetables on the dinner table through summer, or do you want more than that for canning or freezing? Would you like some fresh herbs to compliment those vegetables, make herbal teas or to give as gifts? Do you want your yard to be colorful with seasonal flowers and would you like extras for cutting and putting in vases to decorate your home? Do you want your flower beds to have flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit, or only flowers? Is there some new plant you want to grow? Where  will you put all that you want to grow? What style of garden do you want--cottage, formal, informal, etc....? Do you want to save a little money by starting seeds, or do you want to save a little time by purchasing plants? How many plants will you need for a certain area? Do you have time to take care of all that you want out of the garden? If not, maybe you should alter your plans a little. Ways to get ideas for your dream garden are to find pictures in magazines or catalogs that appeal to you. You can paste these pictures into your journal, or keep them in a folder nearby. When driving around town, look at others' yards and try to remember what you liked about them. Take notes on what appeals to you.

Once you know what you want by asking yourself the questions above and taking note on what appeals to you, you get to make the decisions of which plants to grow. This is where the catalogs can be a valuable tool. You can also use gardening books to help you with which plants to grow. The catalogs and gardening books will list plant names, whether or not it will grow in your zone, plant size, plant care and other information 
such as flower color.

Once you have planned which plants you are going to grow where, you'll need to purchase the seeds or wait until the nurseries start selling plants. You can also put a plant order in through a catalog and they will ship them to you at your planting date. This can be very convenient.

If you are going to start seeds, it's wise to figure out starting dates and write them onto your calendar or into your garden journal. To figure out when to start seeds, find out the number of weeks for germination time on the seed packet and count back that amount from your last frost date. Your journal can be a valuable tool next year when making plans. Don't limit yourself to only writing in your journal now. You can also keep notes through the year on how well certain varieties of plants did for you, new plants to try, and anything else that will help you in your gardening efforts. Writing and reading your journal adds another dimension to gardening--try it, I think you'll like it!

Copyright ©, 2000, Monica Resinger

Monica Resinger publishes an e-mail newsletter for homemakers that poses fun questions to readers about organizing, crafting, gardening, frugal living and other homemaking subjects; readers can respond to the questions and receive the resulting, very informative 'tip sheet'. If you'd like to join the fun, send a blank e-mail to: to subscribe.

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