My Ideas and Tips for How to Create a Garden Journal

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Once you have a garden then you will need a garden diary.

It’s a place for you to keep all of your garden information and garden plans. 

The most important thing a garden journal can provide is valuable information that you can use from previous years to help you plan accordingly for the coming year.

A photo of my vegetable garden which is the area that I keep the closet track in my garden journal

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Welcome to the third Fabulous Friday Link Party Blog Hop.

The Fabulous Friday Link Party is where bloggers share their best home-related blog posts every Friday. Quarterly, the Link Party hosts each invite a talented blogger who links up regularly to join us in a special Blog Hop.

This is just one stop of twelve for our Spring Garden Blog Hop.

The six Fabulous Friday hosts and our guest bloggers are sharing awesome Garden Inspiration and How-Tos. Follow along for wonderful gardening-related ideas. All the links to the Hosts and their Featured Blogger Friends are at the end of this blog post.

Don’t Have a Garden?

You don’t really need a garden to start a gardening journal.

Your journal can be your dreams and plans for your garden vision.

Here are my tips for beginning gardeners. If you’re already a gardener, you can skip down to the Journal Section

Know your Hardiness Zone

You can find your hardiness zone by looking at this hardiness zone map at the USDA Agriculture Services. You just put in your zip code and it will tell you your zone.

I live in the 5b zone. Once you know your zone then check with your local extension office to find your last frost date and when it’s safe to put plants into the ground. My local extension office is the most valuable resource for gardeners. 

I also use my own good common sense. My date is technically May 15th. However, if it’s been cold prior to that date, I hold off. I want my soil to be warm enough for my plants to survive.

Some plants, like basil, I never put into the ground until it’s consistently above 50 degrees at night. Basil doesn’t like cold at all.

There are two very important reasons to know your hardiness zone. One is whether a plant is a perennial in your zone or an annual. The other is the date that you can safely put out your annual plants.

Start with Small Gardens

If you are just a beginning gardener, my suggestion is that you start small. Gardening takes some time, so you have to decide how much extra time you have to give to this hobby.

Perhaps a few tomato plants, a basil plant, and a jalapeño. It’s just about everything you need to make salsa in the summer.

Plant a few annual flowers in some pots and buy a packet of zinnia seeds. Zinnias grow directly from seed and require little to no work except for cutting some of the lovely blooms and bringing them inside to make a bouquet.

Plant a hydrangea bush. It will give you beautiful blooms, depending on the variety, in late summer and early fall.

Garden Journal

I use a three-ring binder but you can use a spiral notebook or a blank notebook. I have a few new garden planner printables in my resource library. If you’re a friend of Living Large in A Small House you will have access to my FREE Resource Library that I add to often.

Here are my own garden journal contents

  • Calendar Pages
  • Garden layout sketches with the location of plants
  • List of Plants
    •  Research your plants
      • Size
      • Spacing
      • Exposure
      • Habits
      • Bloom times
      • Harvest dates
  • Weather Patterns
  • Note pages
  • Garden Tasks
  • Maps
  • Plant Resources
    • Plant Purchases
    • Tree/Bush Guarantees
  • Blank pages for quick notes

I used to keep my empty seed packets, plant tags, and garden center receipts, in my journal but now that I’m being more paperless, I scan these items into my garden file on my computer.

I started plants from seeds this year so I have a few new pages in my journal as I’m keeping track of what didn’t work and what I want to plant more of next year.

Tracking Weather

Our weather is so crazy in Illinois and it definitely affects my gardening. Keeping track of the weather both in the winter and during the growing season helps me predict with a little bit of accuracy, what my plants are going to do. 

I keep track of the weather daily in my regular bullet journal and then put a short recap in my gardening journal at the beginning of each season.

Favorite Gardening Tools

Vegetable Gardening

Being a vegetable gardener it’s so important for me to journal everything that happens in my vegetable garden. 

The vegetables in my garden feed my family, so I need to know what works and what doesn’t work. 

What varieties produce the best and when are they ready for harvest? 

I also rotate my crops so I need to know where each variety is planted each year. 

This is a great example of why I keep a journal. I have been battling tomato blight for years.

It helps me to know what I should and shouldn’t grow in my garden. 

I will never stop growing tomatoes but I’ve been battling what I thought was blight for many years. Crop rotation hasn’t helped so this year we are taking them completely out of this garden and relocating them to another bed.

After further investigation, I think that they might not need as much water as they were getting with our irrigation system.

By separating them, I’m going to be able to control the exact conditions of the tomatoes.

I also note what we did to improve the garden each year. What things worked out right?

When we first started gardening in this house, we planted right into the ground.

Now we have raised beds we add a top layer of new composted soil every year. We then put down our drip irrigation system and cover it all with landscaping fabric to keep down the weeds. 

When the season is winding down, I keep track of how many pints and quarts of veggies I preserved in my garden planner.

Flower Gardening

When it comes to my flower garden, because it is an always-evolving ecosystem, it’s especially important for me to journal everything. I have flowers that reseed and I either let them multiply or keep them under control. 

Interestingly, every year my mind might change depending on where they decide to sow those seeds or run their roots. 

I make notes on what I moved in the fall and what needs to be moved in the spring. There are many plants in my garden that need to be divided so I need to take great notes on which plants and where I’m going to put the new additions. 

I have many perennials that don’t really like our Illinois weather so I have to keep track of those as I treat them like annuals some years or try something new in their spot.  

The other thing I keep track of is when everything starts to bloom. It always is a little different.

The year that our daughter Annie was getting married in our backyard, I knew that the roses would be blooming so I added more to my perennial beds.

I also added more coneflowers, shasta daisies, and phlox as I knew they would all be blooming around the end of June. It was gorgeous.

I add annual plants to my perennial beds each year to give more all-around color. You can read about the annual plants I use HERE.

Cutting Garden

Last year I added a cutting garden to my yard and that is definitely a work in progress. I made a lot of mistakes last year.

I bought a variety of snapdragons that were more like ground cover which doesn’t work well for a cutting garden.

picture of the zinnias on the outside of my vegetable garden

Dahlia tubers need to be dug up and stored before winter. I didn’t get them out of the ground this past year and I’m having to start from scratch. Heartbreaking!

However, because of my notes and research, I’m prepared for this year.

Pots, Baskets, and Window Boxes

Pots, baskets, and window boxes are also a big part of my gardening. I use these to fill all the areas of the yard that need full-season color.

These are some of my favorite annuals that I use:

  • Dahlias
  • Straw Flowers
  • Petunias
  • Ivy Vines
  • Potato Vines
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Double Impatiens
  • Purple Fountain Grass
  • Just to name a few……..
Galvanized Tub filled with pink and white flowers

Mobile Apps

There are also some mobile apps that work well and can be a powerful tool. I occasionally use an app when I can’t find or identify a new plant or look up a disease or plant issue.

Gardening Photograph Albums

Take photos of the landscape. You want photographs of your gardening successes so you can duplicate what works and change the things that didn’t. It’s a great way to remember for next year’s garden. 

You can also use the photos of your garden that are available on your phone to your garden centers to help remember what you want to duplicate

A photographic journal is a valuable tool to accompany your garden notes.

My Garden Journal Goals

I personally want to create a lovely book and also make a journaling tool for you to have a printable garden journal to use yourself. 

Some of this work might not get completed until the winter months as all gardeners know that during the gardening season, we are constantly busy.  

If you like me want to keep track of your garden and have an important tool for your future plans, stay tuned! 

I hope that the information that I’ve provided today is a helpful tool for you to get started!

Don’t forget to visit all of my blogging friends below who are sharing their posts about gardening!

​Happy Gardening!

Peace and Love,

Thanks for Following Along

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  1. Leslie Watkins says:

    Journaling for my garden has become a necessity. I love adding dates, too, of when things are planted and harvested or blooming.
    Happy Memorial Day, friend!

    1. My older brain, just can’t remember all these details so keeping them in a journal works so well for me. I’m actually updating this years graph today now that everything is finally planted.

  2. I always have great plans for my garden and my journaling. Somehow the journaling falls to the wayside. But you have inspired me!

    1. We have a lot on our plates! I think it works for me because I started it years ago so I just add notes to it. I’m not starting from scratch.

  3. In all the years that I have gardened, I have never kept a journal but this is so wise and such a good suggestion. We do not have a very good system for finding our plant zone – I wish we could just put in the postal code. Love all your ideas and I will definitely be keeping a journal moving forward.

    1. My garden journal is something I keep out all summer long. Yesterday my first peony bloomed so I put that info into my journal. Its so funny how it changes each year.

  4. I actually love the idea of a garden journal Lynn. I always say I have two black thumbs, but I secretly want a small garden. I just always seem to kill everything. I think a journal would be good for me so I remember when I watered, I tend to over-love plants and drown them all out. Then there is the flip side, and I forget to water. I have always wanted a garden so I could make dinners with the fruit of my labor. Thank you for sharing. I am in zone 5 & 6 so here is hoping I can maybe start with a tomato plant this year.

    1. The key is to start small. I actually keep track of my watering in my regular daily journal. I look at it every day and because I get great satisfaction from crossing things off, I do my watering when I’m supposed to. My trick for my vegetable garden is to have soaker hoses and its on a timer so I don’t even have to think about it

  5. Lynn this is a great resource! I have made binders before with page protectors to hold my seeds but never thought to do a garden journal. Pinning this idea! Thank you for having me in this month’s hop 🙂

    1. Thank you for joining our party and taking the time to read my posts. So appreciated!

  6. Hi Lynn! This is such a fabulous idea! Right now I have plant labels saved in a plastic zip-lock bag, so I can remember what I planted in my pots last year! Putting that info in a journal with pictures and noting how each plant did, makes so much sense! I loved seeing pictures of your beautiful plants and garden! Here’s to a great growing season!

    1. It really saves me time in the long run. I just take my notes to the nursery with me.

  7. Your garden is going to be lovely this year. I am going to have to give a shot at making a garden journal. Such a great idea.

    1. Even if you just keep track of what you purchase for pots and baskets, its so helpful from year to year. I just grab that sheet when I head to the nursery.

  8. I’m on the 5b/6a line here in coastal NH and we have crazy weather too! There is going to be a frost tonight…I’m so glad I kept my tomatoes in the garage! I need to get better at journalling my garden. I keep some notes but want to do better!

    1. Hi Jennifer – We can technically put things out after May 15th but it’s been in the 40s at night so I’m keeping my new seedlings in the greenhouse until the weather is consistently over 50 at night. We do have crazy weather and every year (at least for me) it changes.

  9. I’ve had gardening journals in the past, but haven’t done one for awhile. It definitely helps to have pictures from each year. Your gardens are beautiful! So excited to get the planting season started!

    1. I use my garden journal for so many things. My gardens are pretty large so it really helps me to keep track of everything.

  10. Lynn! We have the SAME gardening zone! I am also 5B here in Malta, NY. Oh my gosh – you have so many of the same challenges that I have with gardening. Yes, a garden journal is essential. I started one last year and tape all my labels into it of the flowers/veggies planted. This year, in the front, I planted some azaleas.
    Thanks so much for including me on your Fabulous Friday Blog Hop! I feel honored.

    1. Hi Anna – My garden journal is so helpful to me. I started a lot of plants from seed this year so I have to do a lot of updating as some things worked and some were a bust. My brother is in Clifton Park, NY which I think is somewhat close to you.