Monday, March 4, 2013

A Garden Journal

One of the projects that has been devouring all my time the last few weeks is garden-related.

Recently, someone asked how I was getting such an incredible carrot harvest (20-30 carrots per week), and wanted all the details, from the soil in the raised beds and the sun exposure, to the type of seeds and fertilizer I used.
carrots at Dec. 7, 2012
carrot plants at Dec. 20
carrots at Jan. 7, 2013
I decided this might be a good time to settle down to a task I’ve been putting off for some time: compiling all my planting and harvest notes from the beginning of the vegetable garden.

I thought it had been at least ten years, but it turns out that we built the raised beds in 2006, so we just finished the sixth year. With two seasons each year, that still adds up to twelve possible planting seasons so far.
 
My gardening records are graphic (literally) and very brief. I have a simple map of the garden area, with each raised bed divided into square-f00t sections.
 
When I plant seeds, I just write the seed name in each box or area of my map.
If and when the seedlings grow, I make notes about the plant, the harvest, and any problems. Supposedly, I keep all these sheets together in a binder so I can refer to them later.

Unfortunately, when I went to the binder to compile all the information, I was missing half of the sheets. I know I didn’t plant for a couple of fall/winter seasons, but the other sheets could be anywhere. Maybe I stuffed them into the wrong binder, or they blew away, or maybe they’ve long since been composted.

Blogging helped, as well as the hundreds of photos I have cluttering up my hard drive. Sometimes I found dated photos or a blog post to fill in missing information from a previous year.

At least I was able to get enough information on the carrots to provide a pretty complete story to my fellow gardener.

carrots at Jan. 31

Here’s an example of my multi-year garden notes for carrots:

Cosmic Purple
Seed
Fall
2012
Excellent companion for Scarlet Nantes, same size and shape, harvest time. More of a dark wine-red than purple skin, orange inside.
Scarlet Nantes
Seed
Fall
2006
sprouted > 2 mos after planting. Dozens of carrots only 1 1/2" long and 1/8" wide
Scarlet Nantes
Seed
Fall
2010
100+ days to harvest, delicious 4"-6" carrots. Hundreds!
Scarlet Nantes
Seed
Fall
2011
120 - 140 days to harvest - big sweet carrots
Scarlet Nantes
Seed
Fall
2012
Perfect carrot - high germination rate, good shape, excellent flavor. Takes 4 mos to get to full size of 4 - 5".
Tonda di Parigi
Seed
Fall
2006
no germination
Tonda di Parigi
Seed
Fall
2010
120+ days to harvest, cute round carrots

 
And with all of the other information I gleaned from my records, I decided that it might be useful to others, if there are any people out there who are new to the desert and wondering if anything will grow here. So I’ve added a new page to the blog – Grown – where I will post this information. It’s not really a How-To guide, it’s just what worked for me.

I’d recommend that every gardener keep some sort of journal, even if it is like mine, with just the names and a few quick notes. It is invaluable when you see that you've had almost 100% success with one seed company and less than 10% with another. Or that you’ve tried twelve different varieties of tomato plant from the nursery over six years and only had success with one of them.
Valentine carrots, Feb. 14
Do you keep a garden journal?
 

Katrina

4 comments:

  1. Wow. Great journaling for your garden. I just try to remember what I did last year and what worked and what didn't. Pretty soon I'll be able to plant peas and carrots. That is if the snow ever melts!

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    1. Peas and carrots are the best! That's what we're eating every day now!

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  2. Even our average summer climate like last years is far from suitable for growing wonderful crops such as you produce!
    love the valentine carrot too !!

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    Replies
    1. That's just not right. English gardeners and their traditions are my inspiration!

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