Friday, January 25, 2013

A Garden Diary

' Dear Diary, .......... '.  No, I am not the kind of person to document my life in a diary and I constantly neglect my Facebook account.  I also do not Twitter anyone when I am having sausages for tea.  So, why do I keep a garden diary?

Well, it is because I have never had a very good memory and I like to learn from my past garden successes and mistakes.  I envy members of the Food Garden Group who seem to have this enormous amount of knowledge in their heads and can reproduce it whenever needed.  Not me!

I have learnt to compensate for the lack of a good memory by writing things down and these days I write them down in my trusted garden diary spreadsheet.  Here is what it looks like:

Every time I 'sow' or 'plant' or 'pick for the first time' or 'remove' something, or when things go wrong ('nothing came up') I try to remember to add a line to my spreadsheet.  I have added a few buttons at the top of the spreadsheet so I can easily sort things by variety (leek, strawberries), month (Apr, Sep) or category (Leaf or Root vegetable or Fruit etc.).

Now that I have recorded things for a few years it is becoming a really handy tool because it tells me what worked and did not work.  Yes, I still look at seed packets to see what they recommend, but the descriptions on them may have been written by someone in NSW, and not be correct for my local Tasmanian micro climate.

I now use my garden diary to tell me things like:
  1. what did I do in the garden in April last year?
  2. in previous years when did we have our first frost?
  3. In the past how long did it take for the beans to come up?
  4. what was that capsicum variety that worked so well?
  5. what went wrong with my cucumbers last season and what did I do about it?
Of course I forget to enter info from time to time, but overall I find it very useful to have this record of past events, also because the micro climate in every garden is different.  Jo will have less wind than I have and Russell will have more sun hours than Ilse & Tom, so everyone's results will be different.

You might prefer a pen and notebook instead of a spreadsheet.  Unless you have a fantastic memory and simply remember what worked and what did not, somehow documenting your garden events will improve your chances of success next time.

Please email me at if you would like to try the spreadsheet I use.  You could change some of the headings to suit your needs and garden.  I would be happy to change the sorting buttons for you if you like to sort the entries differently somehow.  I would email the spreadsheet to you minus my entries, which would be of little use to you. 

Happy diarising!

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