Keeping Track

I took this photo exactly a year ago, when I went to check out my new garden plot for the first time. I’ve never been much of journal keeper or a list maker. I usually find myself at the end of the year with a nearly blank calendar. For some reason I’ve never been able to get into the habit of writing things down. The irony is that I’m a sucker for all things Molskine, and last year I bought myself their fancy Gardening Journal. I think I stopped writing in it in May.

So I’m trying to figure out a way to keep track of what I plant and when and where. I’d like to know how many cucumbers and tomatoes and squash I end up with, so that in the future I can plan a little better. I remember that last year we were swimming in tomatillos (we still are actually, frozen and canned,) the brandywine tomatoes were sort of too big, and that the peas and cucumbers made rather a poor showing. That’s really all I remember. The rest is all a blur. Over the weekend I made a spreadsheet listing all of my seed varieties, so that I can record the sowing and transplanting dates for everything, and keep track of the harvest. We’ll see if I manage to keep it up.

When they first started putting cameras in cellphones, I couldn’t figure out why you’d want a camera in your phone, but now I’d be lost without my iPhone camera. I take pictures pretty much every time I work in the garden, and those photos are the best record I have of my garden’s progress. I take photos of individual plants, and I also try to remember to take a photo of the whole garden from more or less the same spot each time I visit. I made a little slide show of them on flickr. By looking back at the photos I can figure out when it was that I started my peas last year and how big my leeks were when they went in the ground. I get a kick out of seeing how tiny my tomatillo plants where when I transplanted them. I really didn’t think they were going to make it. By the end of the summer they were nearly shoulder high and I was harvesting about a quart of tomatillos a day.

I have a feeling that keeping better records is every gardener’s new year’s resolution, but if you’ve found a method that works for you I’d love to hear about it.

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7 thoughts on “Keeping Track

  1. you are not alone, a fellow blogger – http://smallhousebiggarden.wordpress.com/ has been writing about not keeping a list or a diary too! And I’ve struggled in the past as well. I realised I needed to keep records, like you to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and thank goodness for digital photos! I’ve also got a spreadsheet – but that’s only really for reference to know what seeds I’ve got so it stops me buying duplicates! The other thing I’ve found is adding a note in my calendar of what I’ve planted / sown – my calendar is on my phone and laptop, and if you are feeling a bit geeky you can export the calendar into excel :) Happy gardening!

  2. Your blog seems to be a great chronicle of your garden and a place where you like to write. Maybe you could morph that spreadsheet into another blog page..? Our peas didn’t do so well last year either :)

    • Thanks. Yeah, that was one of my main reasons for starting this blog, though I’m sure in the summer when things are really busy in the garden it will be hard to keep up with recording all of the details here!

  3. Last year, I used myfolia.com. It worked great because I could track my seed stash, my planting dates, etc. The only annoying part is that some features are turned off unless you are a subscriber, and I did not feel like spending the money. It might be worth checking out though, a lot of the features are available for free.

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