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Our readers tell us why and how to keep a garden journal.

Do you keep garden records? We recently asked this of Sunset readers, and along with a resounding "Yes!" came computer printouts, photocopied diary entries, and spreadsheets accountants couldn't fault. We quickly learned that for anyone who truly loves to garden, keeping a journal is one way of prolonging the harvest of pleasure it gives them. Here are ideas you may be able to duplicate in your own journal or use if you're starting a garden diary for the first time. July-when flowers are blooming and crops are starting to ripen-is a good month to start one.

For many, planting diaries are histories of the lives enjoying the garden as much as the life emerging from it.

"Over the years I've come to cherish my garden record. I take photos, keep newspaper clippings, and record quotes and poems. Woven through my binders are records of family events-garden weddings, new pets, garden renovations." "When we entertain and guests admire the garden, my husband says, Go get your garden notebook.' Now our friends contribute to it. One friend gave me an article on artichokes so I could grow some for all of us." Styles of record-keeping range from nearly clinical listings of plant names and bloom dates to sentimental narratives chronicling both facts and feelings. The contents of garden notebooks and journals vary from harvest recipes to weather data and from equipment warranties to vegetable taste-test results. These basics are most often recorded:

* Planting dates

* Germination dates

* Beginning and end of harvest

* Bloom periods

* Vegetable and flower varieties,

including performance

* Dates of garden tasks like feeding,

watering, spraying, and pruning

* Costs of plants and supplies

* Location of plants in garden A three-ring binder (with a washable cover and an inside pocket to hold pens and pencils) is the top choice for recording information from and for the garden. Often people divide the notebooks by month. The most popular method: plasticcovered index tabs, with each divider followed by a page from a store-bought calendar. Some fill in the daily blocks with "to dos" gleaned from magazines and newspapers. Others note the day's achievements (such as plants they watered or fed). Some respondents follow these calendar leaves with lined paper for making detailed notes on garden activities and impressions-successful plant combinations, weather patterns and how they affect plants, and reminders to move plants or allow more time for certain garden tasks.

Those who keep notebooks usually have a reference section, often organized alpbabetically. In other sections, people frequently use clear plastic inserts to hold seed packets, plant tags, articles, and instructions. devised for easy reference. It indicates plants' common and botanical names, characteristics and use, size, bloom season, cultural requirements, and pests and diseases.

Another respondent, who uses a personal computer for record-keeping, graphs garden activity for the sole purpose, be says, of knowing when to stay home. "During the growing season I make entries for each vegetable, recording planting dates, start of harvest, and end of harvest. I plan my vacations around the periods of peak harvest and canning."

Some gardeners write in their journals daily, while others write only when important information presents itself. One respondent walks through her garden on the last day of each month, records all the plants in flower, and makes notes on how the trees and shrubs are doing. To begin a new year, most gardeners simply add extra pages to the monthly sections. A more ambitious reader disassembles her binder at the end of December and places the monthly sections into separate binders labeled by month. F]
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1991
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