Keeping a Vegetable Gardening Journal for Each Year

Pumpkin Journal (left), and Vegetable Journal (right)

You might consider keeping a fruit and vegetable journal for 2011. I actually have 2-one for giant veggies and one for the regular veggies. In this you could put the date you start your seeds outdoors, in your greenhouse, and inside with information like temperature of soil, air, temperature inside what day you started, how long it took to germinate, what the weather was like during this time period, what varieties you started, how much water you supplied, if you presoaked any seeds, etc and then continue this journal throughout the season as to how the varieties do,  when they blossom or when you get your first fruit, what pests or diseases appeared and when, what you did to rectify the issues, what varieties were your favorites and why, etc. I bought a nice notebook (something you will want to keep-not just loose sheets of paper that get lost) that I have kept for the last 3 years and add to it for each new year. Every few days I put down what is happening in the garden in the evening when I have some time. I have found it invaluable in future years to look back (in winter) to help me determine what I would do the same and what I would change for the new season. You’ll be amazed at what you will read the next year.

Closeup of Vegetable Journal

I’ve been trying to tweak out my timetable for starting my seeds inside and have referred back to the journals. For instance, 2 years ago I started seeds inside in February and found for me that was too soon-just too cold and I had to replant a lot of seeds in March. Especially tomatoes-they don’t like cold nights (or days) and get stunted and the leaves turn purple. This is because of a phosphorus deficiency where it is not available to plants when the soil and air temp is too cold. Read my post, ‘Learn from my mistakes when starting tomatoes!’ on how to remedy this. Also for you greenhouse people read this forum from Organic Gardening. Luckily that year, I was able to sneak a lot of the ones I had restarted out in mid April with protection because of the mild winter we had even though the plants were smaller- but they were not leggy.

In contrast, last year I planted seeds inside under lights in early March (thinking I had waited long enough to start). But we had such a harsh cold spring that the plants (which looked great) had to stay inside too long and got too tall because I couldn’t put them out till much later (many plants in June) because of really cold nights (27° F till June 6th). How would I have remembered this and what I did differently without a journal. Every year is brings new challenges to us growers in Santa Fe, NM so having a journal that I can refer back to is helpful. Besides it’s fun..

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