Grow a garden journal

E. Spencer Toy Plans and clippings are easy to find in this binder. Tabs divide the sections by subject, and vinyl pouches hold seed packets.
It keeps track of plant labels, seed packets, and more

When a friend asked me how long pressure-treated posts last in my garden, I confidently answered, "Ten years." I know this because I keep a garden journal. It remembers the important things I would forget ― things that help me grow plants successfully.

I assembled the journal in a large three-ring binder with front and rear pouches. Then I filled it with the following materials from a stationery store for about $60 (but you could do it for less if you shop wisely).

• Graph paper for garden plans

• Wide-ruled paper for notes

• Four vinyl pouches for labels, seed packets, drawing tools, and dried flowers

• Tabbed dividers

• Vinyl pockets to hold magazine clippings

Organizational scheme

I break my journal into the sections that follow, but you could arrange yours by month.

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. In these four sections, I record what goes on from season to season. For example, when I noticed how well Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' went with 'Autumn Joy', I made a note in the Fall section. When I heard the year's first frogs (which coincide with the first mosquitoes), I noted it in the Winter section.

"Got to try this." Here I've reminded myself to experiment with 'Spanish Roja' garlic, 'Yellowstone' landscape rose, and a new kind of weeder. When I clip an article, I slip it into a vinyl pocket.

Landscaping notes. Here I keep a plan of my landscape with plant names penciled in, to help me reinvent or rework landscaping ideas. After planting, I stuff the identifying labels into the vinyl pouches.

Annual recaps. When I rip out vegetables and annuals, I note winners and losers in this section.

Miscellany. Here I note things like the address of a sensational camellia mail-order supplier.

Challenges and solutions. The place to keep tabs on insects, diseases and weeds.

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