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Before the chaos of spring arrives, look over your gardening journal to see what worked and what didn't over the past year.

PROVIDED PHOTO

Before the chaos of spring in the garden comes, now is a great time to pull out your gardening journal and look back over the past year.

Flip through the pages to recall your thoughts, ideas, successes and learning opportunities that occurred over the past 12 months. If you haven't kept a gardening journal, I encourage you to do one this year.

There are lots of reasons why a garden journal is a real asset.

You can keep track of your experiments with new ideas, trends and varieties of plant material.

Oftentimes, gardeners share seeds or collect seeds out of others’ gardens. A lot of time and effort can go into finding unique, different or rare plant material. In your journal, you can record what your plant, and, more importantly, what day you planted a particular plant or seed, its germination percentage, the type of soil you used or mixed and the overall appearance or vigor of that plant in your garden over the course of its life.

Having this information will help you make better gardening decisions in the future. For instance, you may plant several types of tomatoes, such as Florida 91 and Bella Rosa. Each variety will perform differently, depending on the soil, transplant time and other characteristics. At the end of the growing season, you'll most likely prefer one variety over the other. So when you go to choose a tomato the following year, you'll have notes not only of the variety you planted but other controllable characteristics that will help you replicate the results from the previous year.

Another great reason to keep a garden journal is for sketching. As you sit in the garden and an idea forms of something you'd like to add, sketching it on paper is the first step to fulfilling that idea. And, if you don't get to it right away, you know you've captured that piece of your imagination and can always implement it later. 

If you don't want to sketch, a journal is a great place to jot down your ideas for future reference. 

You might also want to sketch out your garden after it's been planted. Oftentimes we put out tags or labels for varieties of vegetables or flowers, but, somehow, some of these tags go missing, which can lead to a mix up of varieties. Having a simple sketch of the garden and a list of variety names incorporated into the drawing will help you recall what you planted and where.

Remember, this garden journal is for you. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. It can be an inexpensive composition notebook or an expensive leather-bound journal. It just needs to be an avenue to record and remember. Diligently keeping a record of your garden will greatly enhance your garden enjoyment for many years to come.

Got a question?

Email gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.