When you think of gardening books, your first thought might lead to books on garden design. The most important book you should keep on hand is a garden journal that you write. A garden journal is something you keep for yourself where you track what you planted, when, where, how much, and how well (or poorly) the plantings grew. Then each year as you are ready to start your spring garden, you can pull out your garden journal to help remind you how you did last year. Do you need more or fewer plants, fertilizer, tools, and so on.
Choosing What You Will Use for a Garden Journal
Your journal could be a purchased fancy album (like you might use for scrap booking) or a tablet, or you can maintain your garden journal on your computer. There are also pre-outlined garden journals with categories and pointers next to which there are blank lines for you to fill in. Going with a school tablet or a computer garden journal is the least expensive way to create your garden memories.
You can add pictures to further depict your garden. If you are not much for jotting down what's happening in your garden, then use only pictures; with the date included, you'll have a good record.
What to Write in Your Journal
Whether you are planting a vegetable or flower garden, or a combination of both, keep a list with the date of what you planted from seed and what you planted from a pot. For items planted from seed, closely follow their growth and record the date when the first crown of the plant poked through the soil and each subsequent milestone (first buds, first tomato, etc.).
If you don't already have one, purchase a rain gauge and record how much and when it rained along with how often you had to water. If you are going to use fertilizer, record the date, amount, and weather conditions when it was applied and for several days after it was applied.
Note any unusual weather conditions, like a late or early frost, excessive rain or dry spell, and so on to include what impact those conditions had on your garden. Also make a note of any animals (rabbits, cat, dog, etc.) that visited your garden and what you did to prevent future invasions.
Take a picture of your garden, marking what's planted where, or make notes to indicate the same. For instance, write "tomatoes planted full length of the east border of the garden," or "moonbeam coreopsis planted in the center of west side." With this knowledge, you'll know what perennial flower will be coming back next year, or where flower seeds may have dropped for self-seeding and grow the next year. When it comes to your vegetables, you should plan to rotate what you plant, if possible, so you are not planting the same vegetable at the exact same location.
Throughout the vegetable growing season, keep track of how much produce you collected. You may find that next year, you can reduce or increase the amount plants to better serve your family needs. As the end of the growing season approaches, jot down when the plants stopped producing and when the first frost occurred..
A garden journal can also be used to track container gardens, lawn care, and tree care.