Vegetable Garden Note Taking

A page from Thomas Jefferson's garden diary.

A page from Thomas Jefferson’s garden diary.

My worst mistake in the fifteen years we have been gardening here in Los Angeles has been my shoddy note taking. Even though we don’t have frosts to contend with, it still can be tricky to figure out when to plant vegetables.

In a lecture I attnded at the National Heirloom Exoposition, Sonoma County gardening guru Wendy Krupnick had a simple suggestion for what to take notes on in your vegetable garden:

  • variety
  • planting day
  • first harvest
  • last harvest
  • comments

She suggested a minimum of three years of note taking.

If only I had this data! If there isn’t one already, someone should come up with a social note taking app for vegetable gardening that would aggregate information for each local microclimate. Leave a comment if such a thing exists.

And for more great gardening advice from Krupnick, check out Most of the info is relevant even if you don’t live in Northern California.

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  1. I like the idea for the app. Whenever I reference online planting information there can be a lot of variability even on pages supposedly for my area. So far my notetaking has been sporadic. The first year I took notes almost every time I visited the garden but never recorded any harvest info. Last year I made a form to record everything I harvested but not when or when I planted it. About the only thing I’ve been able to consistently is record what was planted where so I can keep an eye on crop rotation each season. My bed layout never changes so I’ve printed out a blank diagram of the garden I can just scribble on when I’m there and then recopy it all neater when I get back to the house. Just writing this I’m realizing fill-in forms may be the way to go for all facets of notetaking. Winter project!

  2. I’ve tried and tried to keep records and have failed miserably. What I am able to do is to keep dash notes into a 10-yr garden journal that I keep by the bed. It’s not complete by any means, but what’s fascinating is that certain dates do seem to have the most entries for bad weather, bugs and harvest.

  3. Having information on local microclimates might not solve problems since each yard has its own microclimate. I see this in my own yard. There are several microclimates that I can identify just in my small lot. Thoreau spoke of this, little areas where spring comes early or winter lingers.

  4. I have not been very successful over the years on doing this; however, this year I’m trying index cards… an idea I got on Pinterest :

    I seem to be better about keeping this up, garden notes, H and L temps for the day, etc… Not an app, but it’s keeping me engaged. Only missed the days I was away on vacation. I think I will appreciate the day at a glance by year format later.

  5. My prolific note taking has its origins in my Final Fantasy XI days when I tracked every game variable that could potentially influence my crop yields all in the pursuit of growing rare and valuable goods. I don’t have a garden of any kind now, but I do keep detailed notes of my fermenting and brewing activities so that I’ll know how to duplicate the good batches. This gets rather important when tackling beverages that take several months from start to drinkable finish.

  6. I love Wendy! I didn’t get to hear her talk at the expo, but I’ve talked with her quite a bit at other workshops.

    Love the photo of the old garden notes 🙂

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