Record What’s in the Ground
Step 1 of 30 Steps to a Better Garden
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Welcome to the first step of 30 Steps to a Better Garden!
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. Down the road 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!
Scott and Kendra Spencer are a husband and wife team who maintain a modest little third of an acre in Sonoma. With farmers as ancestors and a passion for edibles, they make the most out of what they have. They’ve read countless books, magazines, research documents and articles on organic gardening, but when it comes down to it they are experimenting and finding what works along with the rest of us. Read more at A Sonoma Garden.