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As I’m getting ready to harvest my garlic, I do what I’ve always done every year. I go grab my garden journal to get ready to record the harvest date, and the yield and quality of the bulbs.

I’ve been keeping a journal of my garden almost since I began. It’s a habit I picked up from the old woman who taught me.

She drummed into my head, “Karen, if you want to see if what you’re doing works, you’ve got to keep a record! Without the ability to compare year to year, seed to seed, and method to method, you might as well just throw your seeds to the winds. Because that’s how much luck you’ll have reproducing a good year or a good seed.”

And so I’ve kept a record. This is my 5th journal, one I started back in 2006.

It’s a little weathered from the years of being carried from the house to the garden to the house. And you can see that one of my dogs (I don’t remember which one–they were all chewers as puppies), chewed the bottom corner.

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In it, I record all the information that I’ll want to refer to from one year to the next.

For each year’s garden, I’ll include:

  • A page for seed names (i.e. Blue Lake Green Beans), including whether seeds are mine from last year or bought this year and from where.
  • Two pages drawing my garden layout, including what’s planted where, on what date, and what the moon cycle was.
  • A page outlining soil amendments — compost, fish fertilizer, mulching etc.
  • A page for what will be planted in rotation as a second crop and approximately when.
  • A page recording how each vegetable did: how much produce I harvested, by what date, in what condition, and what the rabbits ate and left alone.

By doing this, it’s easy for me to go back through a couple of years to see what’s worked and what needs fine-tuning.

And year after year, I get to share the best of what I’ve learned in the form of an ongoing bountiful feast with my family and friends. Actually, that’s the part I like the best.