Start A Garden Notebook Now

It’s the start of a new year, and this is an excellent time while the garden is kicking back for you to put together a garden notebook. I actually have two that I use constantly. The first has two main sections–Bloom Sequence and To Do. Behind each of these sections I put a blank large-square calendar, with a separate page for each month. I also put a few blank pieces of notebook paper behind the current month. The second notebook focuses on the vegetable gardening that I do, and it also uses blank calendar and notebook paper pages.

On the “bloom sequence” calendar pages, you will write down when your plants start blooming by date. On the notebook pages, you’ll do a separate page for each type of plant that you grow–one page for roses, one for perennials, one for shrubs, one for evergreens, one for vines, one for bulbs, etc. On this page you go into a bit more detail, by making columns for bloom start and end dates, plus the name of the plant and the color of the flowers. By keeping close track of this, after a couple of years you will see which plants you can group together so you will have a spectacular display with things blooming at the same time, or in sequence to prolong the display. You can also see what color plants would set off what you already own and can also see when you might not have anything in bloom and need to plug something in that blooms in those empty times, so you can be more selective when you go to the spring plant sales or purchase seeds.

The “to do” section is just that–you write down garden chores that need to be done, and by date when. You might try the first year simply writing down the chores you did and when. Next year you can refine it even more, and jot down notes to yourself to do things at certain beneficial times, such as caging and staking plants early in the spring, for example, before they get gigantic and it’s hard to do. I bring forward notes that I make to myself during the year on my next year’s calendar, and it helps me to not forget to do things at the appropriate time in my garden.

The vegetable garden notebook has a wealth of info. in it. Every day you can start to record the high and low temperature in your area, and at the end of the month note the highest temp. and the lowest temp. at the top of the calendar. This will help you loads in figuring out when is the right time to plant certain plants and seeds that need a certain temperature in order to grow or germinate. I also list all of the seeds I buy, and the brands. I note whether I start the seeds inside or plant them outdoors.   I note whether they need darkness or light to germinate–you can find this out online via any search engine.  I also make a column for when we actually can eat the food from the plant, and a final column–would I do this again? This info. is invaluable in helping you figure out which seed companies have good seeds, and which varieties work well in your particular microclimate in your garden. On the notebook paper, I keep an informal journal pertaining to growing vegetables as needed, giving more detail to quick notes that I write on the calendar pages so I won’t forget the next year. I always jot down on the calendar when I  plant my starts outside and the date they start producing food that I can pick and eat, and I always note the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall. This lets you know approximately how many growing days you have in your area, and whether you can grow short-season or long-season crops.

This sounds more complicated than it really is. I probably spend five minutes a day at most on updating these notebooks. But it saves me a lot of time and money when I can refer back to my notebooks and not make the same mistakes in my garden twice, and can repeat successes many times over.

Try it–you and your garden will like it!

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Tme to think about ordering seeds

I do a lot of vegetable gardening, and so I have also devoted some effort into figuring out which seeds work the best for me here in my particular garden. After a few years of trial and error, this is a list of my favorites:

Tomatoes: Costoluto Genovese, San Marzano, Brandywine, Super Sweet 100 cherry tomato, Early Girl

Eggplant: Nadia, Casper

Sweet Peppers: Marconi Sweet Italian pepper, Gypsy pepper

Salad Greens: Arugula, red and green mustards, endive, ‘Ruby Red’ Swiss Chard

Beets: Bull’s Blood, Chiogga

There are lots more, but these were very prolific last year in my vegetable garden.