Write it down

All of the advice you ever read about sowing seeds includes a suggestion to keep a record of what you’ve sown when. I’m pretty sure my head would explode if we didn’t keep track. We also try to record every good idea about the gardens before we forget them in separate books for each garden. In calendars we keep a daily record of the weather outside, what we’ve done all day and who has been in to help. Our calendars — and the blog — are invaluable for remembering whether last spring was the really rainy one or if it was 3 years back, and great for keeping us on track for pruning the roses and other seasonal must-do-nows. And I like to think of these things as an extension of Estelle Clements’ diligent, if sparsely worded, daily record of every happening at Blithewold while she was in residence with the family.

Over the last few years we have tried different methods for keeping track of our seed sowing. We used to simply write lists of what seeds were sown on a particular day, along with the seed source. One page (or two) per day. We could go back to previous years in the book to see what we sowed when but we didn’t keep track of germination timing, success rates and whether or not we liked the plants. Luckily Gail has a good memory for that stuff.

Last year we decided to try using Excel to keep track of all the plants in the garden, including seeds. I’m glad to have the data at my fingertips but it’s not easily accessible for everyone. So this year we’re going back to a book with some database inspired changes. Truth be told, I got the new template from our friend Pam (the self-described “propagating fool”) who got it from The Victory Garden.

In a grid notebook, we have lined out sections for plant, variety, source, quantity (I added that category), date seeded, date germinated, germination success, transplant date, planting out date, harvest date, and a wide space for comments. I know we’ll be good about writing down the date seeded because we’re already in the habit. As we get busier, it will be interesting to see if we’re able to make time to keep track of the rest of it. So far so good but then I’m always enthused to use a new tool at least until it doesn’t feel new anymore.

Do you write it all down? Have you ever used one of those 10 year calendars? — I think that might be next on my record-keeping wishlist. What’s on yours?