On note-taking

In the category of “You know it is fall when…”, I started this year’s garden notes.

Are any of you ardent note-takers?  If so, I take my sunhat off to you.  Me, well…I started with the best intentions when I moved here in late fall of 2004.  My first season’s notes were copious, with each variety of vegetable and each bed elaborately detailed.  (How I ever pulled this off with a one-year-old I still don’t know.) Now, I have settled in to creating three sets of notes per annum:  a seed inventory/seed order, seed-starting notes, and then the garden bed inventory.  The latter is what I began last night.

The bed inventory is a bit of a trick, considering I am a manic succession-planter.  My main objective is to label each bed to show what I grew in it that year, thus avoiding putting the same stuff, or same family of stuff, into it again.  Mostly, I simply remember what went where.  Having the notes is kind of a nice crutch though.

But golly:  I had 47 beds of stuff this year to take notes on.  Yipes.

11 responses to “On note-taking

  1. I understand the note-taking. But I’m not such a large-scale gardener.
    This year, the celery and onions dropped seeds into the dirt where we had pulled them out. Little plants began to grow. In the same place, which is *wrong,* but… free plants!!

  2. Ah, CC, celery and onions don’t give many problems to their offspring, so just consider yourself lucky, as those two are kind of hard to grow from seed! The idea behind crop rotation is twofold (as my little brain understands it): one, nutrient sapping of the soil and two, cootie-catching. Potatoes have things tomatoes can catch and vice-versa so keeping these rotated on a 4 year basis supposedly helps. And as far as nutrient sapping: I try to compost heavily everywhere so I am not too worried about plants that’ll sap the soil.

    I guess my point in listing the 47 beds is I had NO IDEA I had that many! Yipes. Yes, I guess I have definitely bit off a lot of work for myself.

  3. Who in the world (besides Martha) could actually keep track of forty-seven beds? Say a big fat thank you that you have other things in your life besides garden accounting!

  4. Yipes indeed! I have good intentions to take notes. I even bought a journal. HA! I only have two beds, and only, so far, planted tomatoes, peppers, and the volunteer butternut squash, so note taking is not so hard. I am planning on a winter garden this year though. Maybe. If I can plant in November, cuz between now and then, there is just no way.

  5. I just read a newspaper article about a guy who grows something like 52 tomato plants and keeps notes on 3×5 cards for each variety and then transfers the information to a spreadsheet. That’s a lot of recordkeeping and a lot of tomatoes!

    Wow! Forty-seven beds is a lot to keep track of. I also start out with good intentions with the little map and dates, but by the time we finally start harvesting, I usually lose interest. Also, our garden is actually my in-laws’ garden. We do the work but only get a little bit of say in what is planted, which helps put a damper on the enthusiasm.

  6. My fater was great at keeping a garden notebook. He wanted to make sure that his crops were properly rotated, and which species of veggies did the best in our Northern Illinois climate. He was quite the packrat when it came to other things, but his garden notebooks were organised. At least he had priorities.

  7. I don’t keep proper garden notes either- but I do keep a weather journal. I write in a 10 year gardeners journal from Lee Valley. It takes 1 minute a day to make a note of min/max temps, weather and anything exceptional. First frost, first harvest, etc. In a little while it becomes a great tool.

  8. I do most of my gardening in the morning, then write my notes while I have my breakfast. It keeps me on track and I note in the back what I harvest. I’ve broken 20kgs for the year! My goal is 50 but don’t know if I’ll reach it.

    I write when I plant/transplant/treat problems etc or change the garden.

    47 beds is a bit more than I have, but I know friends have a farm with orchards and they keep notes of every tree, harvest, pruning, mulching etc.

  9. Pamela, I know! Really I am just trying to get the broad brush as far as what botanical families were in the bed for the season. And…I have to do it now before I forget, because most of the stuff is still in the ground for me to see.

    Oh Jules DO try a winter garden. I think you’ll find the season a lot less oppressive, weather-wise. It is kind of a shame that most of gardening is slanted toward we northern gardeners; you guys and those in FL/CA/AZ etc can really milk the calendar whereas we northerners watch the snow fall and doodle in our garden notebooks.

    Okay, Jeri, putting things on a spreadsheet: that sounds like WORK to me. But as to your inlaws’ beds, any chance you could bust up more sod over there and call it your own? Or at least try to call out some of the varieties planted in their beds?

    BB, that’s kind of cool about your dad. It must be fun looking at the notebooks now. (I wouldn’t say mine are fun to look at.) Like him, I try to note the real rockstars as far as productivity goes. Most things just love growing in the greenhouse so even recalcitrant growers tend to shine in there. Maybe I should have a different notebook about the greenhouses. And maybe I should quit my job to keep up with it all, sigh.

    Eva, a weather journal! That sounds like a great idea, especially regarding first harvests. Though I do have to ask, does it make you a bit paranoid around frost dates? I think it would make me so: ohmigosh last year the frost hit on THIS date etc. But knowing how much rain has fallen would be nice. I do have a local ag station that keeps track of all those things on line so I am quite happy: they even chart things like total solar radiation and estimated potential evapotranspiration, both things that I could never do, much less understand how to apply to my broccoli.

    Wow, Hannah, I am not sure I could do anything before breakfast. But I really like the notion of your routine. The orchardists you mentioned, well, that makes lots of sense; trees especially don’t up and go anywhere. Me? I somehow feel I need to note it all so that in 15 years I simply look back and say “’08 wasn’t a bad year.” But hey 20Kg is not anything to sneeze at, and with your notes I am sure you could reach that 50 next year.

  10. Well, I DO write things on my calendar. Like temps and dew points, how much rain we got and when. When we planted and what. I guess I could be better. I thought to have just a garden calendar, then thought ‘I write everything down on this one, so why not the garden stuff too’. It’s all inclusive. I should be better tho. Ah, next year!

  11. If I go out with the journal in hand, I can usually get most of it written down. I’m trying slowly but surely to increase the complexity and comprehensiveness of the notetaking but often it ends up as dirty smudges over penciled scribbles.

    We’ll get there, eventually. You’re quite the inspiration.

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