Do you keep a garden diary? I started one when I moved here a few years ago, mainly so I could keep track of what I had growing and where. It’s been so useful.
My diary has been through several reinventions. I waver between wanting an online one so I can use it on my computer or phone and wanting one written on paper. At present, I use a combination of the two and this is how it works.
Every day I write the minimum and maximum temperatures and the weather conditions in my standard A5 day-to-a-page paper diary. I also make a quick note of what I’ve done in the garden that day, what seeds emerge and when flower buds open. If I buy new plants, I make a note of that, too. It’s quick and easy to jot down my observations.
As I cruise around the garden, I take photos of changes. This helps me compare year to year. I’ve found that, although there are similarities between when trees and shrubs change in my local area, it’s not always the same in my particular garden’s microclimate. Of course, I could print and paste these photos into my paper diary but that seems wasteful when I can copy them into an app on my computer.
Because I find it handy to be able to search for things in my diary – things like ‘where did I buy dahlia bulbs in 2020’ – I consolidate everything into an app. I use OneNote, mainly because it’s free and can synchronise between my devices. I can add text and photos and easily search it. I can also draw in it. There are many specific online journal apps available if that’s your preference; search the internet for “journal apps”.
Updating OneNote is something I do at the end of each month. I’ve set up my OneNote notebook so that each month has a folder and each date has a page in the folder. I like to compare the same dates in previous years, so each date page has entries from multiple years. That’s how I can see at a glance, for example, that on 9 October in 2020, the top temperature was 15.1, while in 2021 it was 24 and 2022 was 12.9!
I transfer all the weather information and notes from my A5 diary and add any photos or drawings to the relevant dates. It sounds like I’m doubling work but this process works for me.
Using a paper diary
If you fancy a paper garden-specific diary, Diggers has a new three-year garden journal, which lets you see the same week across three years on a single page spread. It includes seasonal information. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has a similar five-year one, which you can buy in Australia. I’d always prefer a journal that has information for Australian conditions than overseas ones, though.
There are many more paper garden journals available for purchase; search the internet for “garden journal”.
How do you organise your garden diary?