7 Steps for Keeping a Consistent (and Useful) Garden Journal

I have been journaling this summer; have you?

Some days it isn’t as easy as others to sit down and write what was going on in my garden, and on those days I take a lesson from the Extension Master Gardener Blogs’ “Wordless Wednesdays” and add some photographs I have taken. In these cases, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Using a computer to expedite journal entries

Other times the words just fly from my fingers onto the keyboard. And this is why I prefer to do my journaling on the computer. Gone are the days when “Ladies of Leisure” had the time to sit and write their thoughts in a beautifully bound, lovingly designed paper journal, perhaps with a quill pen and some perfumed ink. Who has time for that in 2013?

So the computer comes to the rescue because – even as slow as I type – I can type faster than I can legibly write.

The computer has some other benefits, too. I can add my digital photos right into the document. They can be sized to what I need to make my point, or they can be deleted and replaced if I take a better photo tomorrow. Besides, if you are reading this blog, you are computer-literate enough to create one of your own.

Garden Journal, Entry August #6
Garden journal entry , August 6

Garden Journal entry
Garden journal entry,  August 7

It’s simple.

Step 1) Start by opening a new document and saving it as “Garden Journal, 2013” or whatever name you choose.

Step 2) Optional. Add a header and use some clip art to jazz it up (if you want to get fancy)

Step 3) Set a page aside for each month. This is another benefit to computers: if you need more pages in any one month, just keep typing. The computer adjusts for you. Some months I have as many as six pages; in the winter that may dwindle to a half a page instead. I do try to add something each month, even if it’s only rainfall amounts or a plant I saw in a catalog that I want to try next year.

Garden Journal Entry
For July, I added some clip art and a header. I also set-up this page to prompt me to add drawings and notes.

Step 4) Be sure to include the date and year in each entry. This helps keep you organized.

Step 5) Add some photos by using the “insert” tab. When you are finished writing for the day, add photos. You can use the formatting tool to adjust the size, crop the photo, wrap the text around it or add a caption. Captions can be helpful to identify the plant in the future.

Step 6) Save the document!  It should go without saying to be sure to save the document when you are done!

Step 7) Print when you have completed each month or year.   At the end of the year, I print my year’s journal entries and keep it in a three-ring binder for future reference.


3 Ring Binder Garden Journal
My 3 ring binder garden journal

Using tabs to mark the years is a helpful organizing tool, too. And I bought some photo sleeves so I can add pages with my plant labels as well as some hand-drawn maps of plantings, too.

Garden Journal page
Garden journal with plant tags,  August 3

Garden Journal Page Aug. 5
Garden journal with more plant tags,  Aug. 5

Other pages of gardening information from magazines or newspapers can also be included. It’s your journal; include what you need!

In a few years, you will be amazed at how much information you have been able to gather by being the least little bit organized on a daily basis.

~ Carla Albright, Tillamook County Oregon Master Gardener

Have you started a garden journal yet? What are you including? What format do you use?

5 Replies to “7 Steps for Keeping a Consistent (and Useful) Garden Journal”

  1. I like this idea. I keep a journal, but it’s more about the experience of gardening and less about the nuts and bolts. This might actually encourage me to keep better records! Thanks for the tips.

  2. This is an awesome idea, I write about what does well and what doesn’t, but this will help alot also. It covers the whole garden. I will start this in the spring!!

  3. You know, you don’t have to wait until spring to start a journal! By starting in the fall or over the winter, you can record some of the ideas you had while gardening this year before you forget them. Its also a good idea to take some photos now so you will have a good record of changes. Kind of “before-and-after” photos.

    By starting to set up your journal program in the fall, you will be all ready for spring next year, making it easier to get started.

    And it doesn’t have to just be about the “nuts and bolts,” either. I always include my impressions, feelings and dreams for next year. Its your journal… write what feels natural! ~ Carla

  4. Thanks for providing this information and format! I have good intentions to journal my garden activities but have not been consistent. I’m pretty good about taking photos and I hope this will help me get them a little more organized.

  5. I used file folders previously. I kept tags from trees, flowers and vegetable seed packets. Also hand written maps of where things were planted. I just remember if things were successful or not. My photos were made into photo books along with life photos, not just dedicated to the garden, usually 2 or 3 times per year.

    I appreciate this post and have printed and assembled the notebook for my new garden journal. Thank you.

Comments are closed.