Jamie Oliver Journal

How many of you keep an offline gardening journal/ diary? Or a planner? Do you buy a printed one, fresh each year? Or a new, shiny notebook? What information you you record? What do you wish you could remember to record?! Do you refer back to your journals from previous years?

This blog (in all its iterations) has always been my garden journal, and it works to a large extent – but then it falls short. There are plants that I have grown, and things that I have done, that – for whatever reason – I never blogged about and which are now just distant memories.

I can’t get into the habit of keeping a gardening diary, and in fact I don’t think it would be that much use. A purely chronological record of what happened would be something I could delve into, but not somewhere I could refer back to if I had a specific question. I would have to have an inkling of what happened when to be able to check back.

The Jamie Oliver Journal in the picture was a gift. It remains entirely blank. It’s more a less a universal diary – it is divided into months, with lined pages. There’s nothing else in there except photos of Jamie’s recipes – for the actual recipes it refers you to one of his other books. Hardly inspiring, I have no idea what thoughts I would record in there.

I have seen printed garden planners and journals and they all fall short of being a good place to record the information I’m lacking – the projects I tried, and how they did, and – most importantly, perhaps – why I got excited about them in the first place. You’d think that would be easy to remember, but it doesn’t seem to be. I remember the excitement… but not what drove it.

Anyway, I’m thinking perhaps I need to design my own gardening journal. A workbook of sorts, with prompts to help me keep it nicely filled in. It would need:

  • Plans, hopes, dreams, themes, schemes and mad cap ideas for the year
  • A shopping list
  • A sowing list
  • Some way of recording the bed layout
  • Pages for recording what’s grown in each bed, in each season
  • Worksheets for unfamiliar species, showing me when to sow and harvest, and to remind me of suggested uses
  • Blank worksheets for familiar species, allowing me to record sowing and harvesting dates and weights, and plenty of gardening notes
  • A section to review the year – what worked, what didn’t, what I would keep and what I would change
  • A look forward with the plants I have encountered this year that I want to grow next year, with notes on why!

If I made a new one every year I would be building up a library of the history of my garden, easy to refer back to, and looking tidy on the shelf rather than a collection of rag tag notebooks. It’s so tempting to throw those away when you’re having a declutter….

What do you think? What are the essentials in a garden journal/ planner? What would your ideal journal contain? Do you want plain paper to free your dreams, lined paper to organize your thoughts, or plenty of prompts to remind you what you wanted to do and why?

Let me know!