Once upon a time, young people learned about growing food from their parents, grandparents, other relatives and neighbours: watching, absorbing, and practising the skills and techniques needed to successfully raise plants and turn them into something nutritious and calorific. If advice was needed, there were knowledgeable gardeners close by to glean from. Tips and tricks were shared and expanded upon down the generations.
Nowadays it’s harder for new gardeners to discover how to grow. But despite this, growing vegetables has developed something of a cult following. In this age of home-delivered groceries and indoor pursuits, gardeners have become the counter-culture. It’s almost a radical act to take control of the food we eat!
The Gardening Knowledge Gap
Books and articles such as those published here on GrowVeg are invaluable for filling the knowledge gap. But the one thing they can’t do is provide the number-one most important learning tool available to gardeners – first-hand experience.
Many – I’d reckon most – new gardeners tread the same path. The first growing season consists of a few successes and a few complete failures, along with a learning curve so steep it almost requires a harness, carabiners and chalk.
With luck, the successes are rewarding enough to outweigh the failures, and a second growing season is embarked upon. Each successive year will inevitably have its own share of ups and downs. But after that first year the learning curve is more gradual, the failures become fewer and the successes greater.
Journalling Your Garden
Key to continued and increasing success is observing your garden with a keen eye, and keeping notes. It’s crucial to know exactly when you sowed, fertilised, and harvested last year, and how well your plants fared over the course of the growing season. Doing so helps you make an educated decision about whether to repeat the same tactics or tweak your schedule to achieve an earlier, later, better, or more spread-out harvest.
Personally I can never remember from one year to the next what I did or when I did it without referring to my notes; and with each passing year it only becomes harder to remember. (What do you mean I’m just getting old?!)
That’s why I was so excited when we released our brand new Garden Journal earlier this year. The ability to quickly record when I’ve planted, watered, tended or harvested is invaluable! Making more detailed notes is easy too, and adding photos means I can see at a glance how my garden looked at different times of year. In the future I’ll be able to look back and compare from one year to the next as well.
Many of you clearly agree with me; the Journal is less than six months old but already we’ve seen countless notes, photos and other records added by thousands of gardeners! Apples have proven to be the most prolific crop this year for most of us, with the heaviest recorded harvest for a single variety weighing in at a whopping 60kg (132lbs). That will take some beating next year!
We predict a quieter few months for the Journal as gardeners wind down for the winter. But what happens during the colder months may have an impact on next year’s growing conditions, so continued notes are useful even when there’s not much being planted or harvested. And don’t forget, the Journal includes a handy weather forecast so you can quickly check when the weather is about to turn sour and take action to protect your plants.
Building on Success with the Garden Journal
Next year will be the time when all of this year’s notes, photos and records really prove their worth. My leeks have been smaller than normal this year; did I start them later than usual? I can’t remember, but the Journal has kept my exact sowing dates safe and sound, so I can aim to do better next year.
When did I start earthing up my potatoes? Nope – my memory fails me again! No worries – a quick check of the Journal on my phone while out in the garden assures me it was the first week of May.
Over the last six months our talented technical team has been quietly working away, adding more features such as linking to plants in your Garden Planner plans and making it possible to add weblinks and hashtags to your notes. There’s more to come too; from more specific reminders to a powerful search feature that will help you quickly find any note, photo or record.
Garden Planner subscribers will enjoy access to bonus features like detailed reports and summaries of your Journal activity. Further into the future, our longer-term plans include email alerts for your reminders, extreme weather and pest alerts, and the option to share your journal with others. Exciting stuff – I for one can’t wait!
A big thank you is due to all of those tireless gardeners helping to make the Garden Journal such a success – we’re glad you’re finding it so useful! And remember, we’re continuing to improve and enhance the Journal and add new features, so if there’s something you’d desperately love to see included please get in touch via our Contact page and let us know about it!