greentapestry : Just For The Record

Monday, 19 March 2012

Just For The Record

How do you do it? That is keep records of what is happening in your garden or on your allotment plot? Do you try and keep it in your head, write a daily journal, create comprehensive spreadsheets or just jot it all down on the back of a cigarette packet? I often wonder how people note what was planted when, who gave what plant to them, which nursery or show was it where you purchased a special plant, when did you sow your courgettes last year, take penstemon cuttings, details of catalogues you want to send off for etc, etc. All these snippets of information can be oh so valuable as reference points and memory joggers.

As for me pure memory is no longer reliable or accurate so I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that I must improve on record keeping. Sadly I have left a trail of uncompleted gardening journals in my wake. Thoughtful family members and friends have presented me with all sorts including five year diaries which look so inviting on dull winter days. Year 1 - I make a determined effort to jot down what is happening which in January is not a lot. I might make observations on the weather, note when seeds orders arrive or when the first snowdrops appear but usually by March my good intentions have evaporated. Sometimes later in the year I have had another flurry of activity - usually around July when there is not such a manic rush to be doing. This does not last long though and there are then months of blank pages. Year 2 sees a repeat of year 1 but by years 4 or 5 I need sunglasses to counteract the glaring blankness of the pages ~

My latest tomes are not as time challenging as a five year marathon. These are a Paperchase 'Garden Journal' (the most recent version is slightly different to mine with specific headings eg flowers, trees and shrubs) and a Moleskin 'Gardening Journal'. The former could fit the bill I think if I was to rise to the challenge. It is a reasonably sized spiral bound notebook including lined pages, grid paper as well as plain paper plus plenty of plastic pouches. I am still working out exactly what the pouches are intended for - my guess is maybe for empty seed packets. My Paperchase journal does have a few written observation but is now so stuffed full with magazine and paper snippets that these make opening it positively dangerous to contemplate  - so it just sits and looks at me reproachingly from the shelf. The Moleskin journal is much smaller, is divided by definite categories but can be personalised to some extent with a plethora of bewildering stickies. I should make quite clear that I do not have any shares or interests in either company!

When I started blogging I thought that I would use my blog in lieu of a written diary - in fact I even have a specific diary label but there are few entries under this heading. The intention was to write at least a weekly catch up post but this did not get off the ground. So this year in pursuit of my wish to keep record vital statistics I've decided to try out a different approach. I have used the pages feature offered by Blogger and have created two new pages which you can see at the top of this post. One is entitled 'Seeds 2012' and the other 'Planted'. The plan is that these will be able to act as a valuable aide memoire when I am trying to recall certain activities and happenings. I am trying to be disciplined and fill these in regularly. I am also jotting down the dates of all my sowings on the back of each seed packet as a back up just in case my blog ever disappears in a puff of smoke. Sorted? Ask me at the end of the year. In the meantime I would be intrigued to know if you keep records and if so how?


  1. At the moment we're relying still relying mostly on memory but I do keep a little green book in my bag...

  2. Well, you're making more of an effort than I am. Years ago I began a file system for keeping track of plant purchases. I'd staple the plant label onto an index card, date it and file it under its genus name. When one box was full and I had to get another for the second half of the alphabet, I took them all out and created a word document that is now 12 pages! I wrote the plant name and when I purchased it and where I've got it planted. I use this fairly often because I can't always remember what those long trumpet flowers are called, for instance. :)

    Other things like what happens when in the garden, I don't keep track of so I'm not much help there. I hope you find a system that works for you.

  3. I've drifted into using two blog memes as a fortnightly record of the garden. I alternate between foreign flowers on Bloom Day, and Gail's Wildflower Wednesday. My five year journals slid away from me as I've adjusted to most everything is on the computer. The lost label, and where did I plant, can be cured by taking photos - then writing the plant name ON the photo.

  4. Hi,

    I use a little booklet where I write all jobs I've done, seeds sown, plants bought when and such.
    It does get used throughout the year and I do look back at my lists of jobs during the year, but now I've moved to another I don't look back at my old one. Not that it matters too much...

    This year I set up a page on my blog where I've recorded plants sown and such, it's just a simple list but easier for me to look back on than sifting through pages of a little journal. So I'm not actually making blog posts on it; it's a simple page in my navbar. No bells and whistles and purely for me or those interested enough to see what I've bought/sown and when :)

    And in terms of blooms and dates, well they all go in dated folders, and the images I use on my blog are all by date and month too so I can easily go back by year, month and then date to find out when things first bloomed.

  5. I had a notebook that I used to take to the allotment and I wrote everything (well most things) down in that. Now I just have my garden I keep some notes on the computer, and also rely heavily on photos stored by month and year.

    However it obviously isn't a fail proof system as I ahve plants coming through now that I have no idea what they are!

  6. I try very hard but normally fail somewhere around June. I do keep a notebook that I write random notes in. Sometimes things like what bulbs I want to add, ideas I have for planting in the middle of the night etc! I went back over it recently and I had actually done most of the ideas. I also found it useful when ordering my bulbs this year. I try and keep a sowing diary to try and work out what works and what doesn't but again it is sporadic. I am also trying to keep an allotment diary - I have a section for each bed and I am trying to keep anote of which crops are planted so I avoid issues of rotation. All laudable but often fails

  7. It all gets jotted down in an RHS diary, so there's something good to look at as well as all my squiggles ;)

  8. I've had various little notebooks but usually the entires stop sometime around May or June. A friend bought me a garden planner a couple of years ago and while it's a tiny bit twee and not something I would have chosen for myself, I managed to record all my seed sowing dates in it last year. I mostly recorded germination and first harvest dates as well, so it's already coming in handy to see what I should be doing when this year.

  9. I've had two or three garden journals from Paperchase which I filled in with what was sown when, when it germinated, when I planted it out and harvest dates, but I find it so time consuming to keep all those notes so this year, for the first time, I'm not making any notes at all, other than the info I put on my blog. I'll probably live to regret it.

  10. Like you, I have tried many different methods, most of which failed after a few weeks! I was successful for a few years when I had a much smaller house and garden(i.e. more time!) I had a small gardeners' diary with tiny squares on each day where you write in the temperature, sun, cloud, rain etc. There was space only for basic notes, so it was not as daunting as a large notebook. I would fill it in every morning for the previous day,as it sat next to the coffee machine! I must try it again!

  11. I am hopeless at keeping notes of what and when - but I'm hoping that keeping a blog will help - it is just a case of remembering to record it. I always start out with good intentions but usually fail - hey ho!

  12. I have to agree with Elaine, I often forget when and what (and often where) in the garden. The blog helps, and looking back at last years posts help me remember what happened and when!

  13. Interesting and reassuring to know that as much as we think an actual journal is the answer, for most, it ends up an empty book on the shelf that gets used for anything but its actual purpose. Like Grace I had a card catalogue system that started out gang busters, but two years in, I'd forget to add something until it was too late: What the hell are you, and where did you come from?

    I too have taken to using the new 'page' system offered by Blogger, although on a personal note, it seems like I end up spending a day or two Spring and Fall doing an actual inventory of sorts to compare the list on the blog to what is actually in the garden! Of course, I am still enthralled by the element of surprise! Refreshing at this age!

  14. What a brilliant idea Anna. May just try that myself.

    I am terrible at keeping notes and my memory is even worse! I start off with good intentions and then it all just falls by the wayside. I kind of use my blog as an aide memoire but then I need to post more often and take more pictures. However, I did have a look at my Picasa album yesterdayon which I store photos of the garden month by month and it was so heartening to see how the garden can look in the spring and summer. In the midst of winter it can seem difficult to envisage.

    Yes, I'm hoping for some refreshing rain soon although I'm so enjoying the sunshine too.


  15. I'm a spreadsheet user. It started out as just a record of what was blooming when in the garden, updated once a week during the gardening season. But a quickly added a page of notes to remind me of things that need to be done the following season. My most recent addition is a page for a plant inventory, where I'm trying to record both plants that come in and plants that go out (e.g., divisions to friends and relatives). I haven't been as good about that last page as I'd like, though. Recently, I discovered that when I planted my new serenity garden last spring, I never added the plants to my inventory -- and now I can't remember which plants came from which nurseries. I aspire to perfect record-keeping, but it's always a goal just out of reach. :-| -Jean


All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at :


- Anna.