In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
January, 2009
Regional Report

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This photo of the sun shining though paperbark maple bark is perfect to grace the front of my journal.

My Garden Journal

I'm going to start my gardening year off by creating a garden journal to keep records of everything that goes on in the garden. I've done this haphazardly in the past, but this time I'm going to get serious. I really want to know exactly how I'm timing things, what the weather is, and just what is going on through the seasons.

Three-Ring Binder
The best journal I've seen is simply a three-ring binder with plastic sleeves. Everything from seed packets to articles to photos can be slipped into the sleeves to be kept dry when it goes out to the garden with me.

I found a binder that has a plastic sleeve as a front cover so I can pick one of my favorite pictures to give it some character. My binder is large, about four inches across so I can add to it each year instead of trying to keep track of several notebooks, essential since my organization skills are still being honed.

Organization
My journal is divided into four sections: calendar, garden plans and drawings, notes, and references (Web sites, suppliers, articles, garden organizations). I have a collection of useful Web sites, articles, and other resources that are scattered around my house and office, and a journal will be exactly what I need to pull everything together into one place.

Garden Calendar
My calendar is made up of a single page for each month with large blocks for writing. I use it more for planning seed starting dates than anything else since there's only so much room in the blocks for writing. It's easy to transfer seed-starting and set-out dates from last year's calendar, saving me the time of counting backwards from last frost. Also, having last year's calendar at my fingertips gives me a great head start in planning next year's garden.

Garden Notes
Then, in the notes section, I label one page for each month and then put several pages of notepaper behind it for keeping track of garden events such as the thaw that inevitably comes in February, the arrival of the first redwing blackbird, and the arrival of the first grape weevil.

My calendars aren't pretty and are often hard for anyone else to read since my notes are somewhat cryptic. But they are infinitely practical for me since they are filled with notes about new varieties to try, reminders to sow lettuce and cilantro every two weeks, notes to avoid Siletz tomatoes because they succumbed to wilt, and to add cosmos to the vegetable garden for cutting. But, with pretty pictures scattered throughout my journal, they do become my personal works of art that I enjoy going back to again and again.

Internet Sources
Don't forget to also try the Internet for sources for ready-made and sometimes free garden journals.


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