Many gardeners are successful regardless of experience and deemed to have a natural green thumb. Well what about those who dont have a green thumb but really want to become a successful gardener every year? This can be simplified by keeping a gardening or grow journal for all of your plants. Just because others dont document their work doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. I have found that by keeping my grow journal up to date with every interaction I have with my plants helps to form good gardening habits and routines that make the growing process and outcomes much easier.
I prefer to keep a small notebook that I can take with me as I examine my plants and jot down my observations. A handheld hard cover notebook is the better alternative to spiral notebooks which can be bulky, mess up handwriting, dirty quickly, and make the documentation process frustrating.
WHAT SHOULD I NOTE IN MY JOURNAL?
The most important factor when starting your grow journal is to first note:
What you have planted and how many ( also noting the seed type and manufacturer is beneficial in determining which seeds grow healthiest and worth buying again in the future)
The date you planted each seed.
The life cycle - starting with your germination date and writing down each date in 7 day increments to track growth and maintain a beneficial nutrient schedule.
Week by week - noting when you watered each plant and what nutrients you have administered that week.
Note any changes in the plants health either day by day or once per week.
Pictures, pictures, pictures - document growth with pictures, remember to note in your picture the current state of the plant And the date taken.
Problems - in order to learn from your mistakes noting any issues the plant may have helps to identify problems for new and older plants in your future or present grow.
Trying to remember when you planted your seeds, what they are, how long they have been growing can easily be rectified by a grow journal. This is especially beneficial for gardeners who are growing a lot of plants or plants of different varieties. Not all plants can be treated the same so using the same amount of space, light, nutrients, water, container, and/or growing medium can cause issues down the line and you’ll end up having no idea why due to not having anything written down to correct your issues.
Realizing the ease of having recorded your plant observations enables a gardener to experiment with plants rather than just trying to focus on the next step in any plant’s growing cycle. You’ll know exactly what to expect as well as how to avoid your mistakes from your previous grow.
Always have some type of identifier for each plant type until you are able to recognize all of your plants from seedling to harvest this helps with bulk planting and larger gardens. Not all seed manufacturers have a seedling identification photo on the seed packet so labeling is crucial in the early phases of plant growth. Each pack does however tell you how many days from germination to harvest as well as when to plant if your starting an outdoor garden. For those who are planning to get a jumpstart for the upcoming outdoor growing season I recommend starting your seedlings 30 - 45 days before the last frost In your growing zone. Make sure you have an adequate amount of space for your seedlings to grow.
Planting herbs first is a good way to pick up experience on starting your seedlings indoors. If your planting plants like cucumber, beans, zucchini, or any climbing plant is best planted no more than 30 days before you plan to transplant them outdoors helping to save space for smaller seedlings or plants that grow at a slower pace than climbing and sprawling plants.
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