Sunday, May 4, 2014

garden notes and keepings


I was asked if and how I keep garden information about the yard and garden beds.  
I do.  
Honestly, I would be lost without my garden notes and keepings.  I'm always shocked how much my brain forgets after six months of winter!  

My garden notes and keepings are very, very basic.
They are nothing like the amazingly detailed and organized notebook by Kelley from the Polished Pebble.  To see Kelley's meticulous, inspiring notebook click HERE.

I keep my notes in a book given to me by a friend when I left Dallas.  I try to write down everything, like how many bags of Hollytone we purchased  in the spring, to how many bags of soil I used for containers at the beginning of the season, to what annuals I purchased for what pots.  That info really helps for the following year so I'm not guessing on amounts.  I write down what I planted in containers and in the yard, and at the end of the season I will add if I liked the plant, or location or if changes are needed.  Also, towards the back of the book I  keep a yearly ledger on the big things we did around the house all on one page- i.e. put in the terrace, planted replacement sugar maples, graveled the drive, bought the lawnmower, etc., etc... .




My other garden keepings are kept in this uninspired box which contains large manila envelopes- one for each of the different beds on the property, and also the terrace and porches.





 I simply keep the plant tags that come on the plant in the envelope for each bed.  When trying to remember;) or find a particular plant it is easy to dump them all out and quickly find just what I'm looking for.




I drew garden plans for some of the larger bed, and keep those in the envelopes for reference.





I also keep gardening articles and magazines for reference and inspiration.


Simple... easy!

How you organize your garden notes and keepings, please do share!


To read more: 
my garden essentials....HERE
our dirt formula.... HERE


70 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, but you are very well-organised. I would LIKE to be that way! I like the idea of recording what, and how much was bought .......perhaps in the next garden!

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    1. It was really helpful in Dallas when I would go to the farmers market each spring and I would know just how many flats I needed to buy for each annual beds (I did tons more annuals there for some reason.) When we moved I gave all pertinent garden/yard info like that to the new owner.

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  2. Perfect!! You are so organized and I love seeing all the pretty pics of your home and gardens!

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  3. Just found your blog-I am a Long Island native who has lived ( and gardened) in NYC, DFW, and Melbourne, Australia; then Madras OR, and now San Diego ,CA.

    We love SD and hope to stay here for a good long time!

    I do the same as you-I keep the tags/flower seed packets, but I put mine in a mason jar.
    I used to always keep a spiral with info on my perennials, too, because like you said, after a long winter it takes a bit to remember what should be coming up where.

    Now, we live in the land of perpetual spring/summer-and we couldn't be happier.
    I've been starting seeds since January, and planting since March!
    I like how gardening connect us to the rhythms of the land we live on :)

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    1. Welcome Susan! Familiar with Madras. We would visit the area when we lived in Portland, and even honeymooned around Bend/Three Sisters. Dan was just in San Diego and we were talking about the fabulous weather/gardening there- must be very nice!!

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  4. Keeping the plant tags... GENIUS! What a sliced bread moment!

    Happy Spring!
    Karla in CA.

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  5. What wonderful organization tips for your garden. I'm always disheveled when trying to remember what colors are where when my flowers are not in bloom and love the idea of keeping the plant tags!

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    1. It really is helpful and I agree with the other comments that lots of photos help with remembering too!

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  6. First off, Joan, I have the exact same notebook with that pretty grass design on it. I love it, and use it as a journal. Secondly, I am so impressed with your organization. Of course when one has as large a property with multiple gardens as you do, it pays to be organized. Great tips. Thanks for sharing them.
    Claudia

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    1. how fun that you have the same book Claudia!

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  7. I am so impressed with your organization. I'm going to start keeping an envelope of the plant tags. I always say I'm going to keep them, then misplace them. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Happy Gardening!

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    1. Sarah, I will throw them in a used plant container in the garage until I have a big bunch and remember to bring them in the house and wash them!

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  8. For the first two years of gardening at our current home, I kept everything in a journal, but stopped doing that when I started blogging. I really love your system of keeping the plant tags in a manilla envelope.

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    1. I'm thinking you and Leo are too busy in the yard to keep a journal;)

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  9. Love Kelley from The Polished Pebble! She's amazing! And you are too! I'm so impressed with how organized you keep everything...no wonder your gardens and home are so fabulous!! ~Kathy

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    1. I do it the really simple, fast and easy way; Kelley is the organized one!

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  10. You are so organized. I am so glad that I stopped by ~ you have inspired me to do the same. I don't keep anything and just wing it every year. Now I will be organized too ~

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    1. If you've never done it before I think you will really enjoy monitoring your progress!

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  11. You are the kind of organized I dream of being but the truth is , I start out well with all good intentions and then tiredness/over my head/brain deadedness hit and I just give up. With my wonky memory, I will just be surprised when something grows .. I will exclaim over the flowers that grew out of nowhere ! :) But I do love your books and notes and all.

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    1. I hope getting your hands in the dirt is healing for you this year Candice. Gardening has magical powers. xxo

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  12. I stapled my tags onto a standard sized sheet of paper and divided them up into categories like Hostas, Ferns, Shrubs, Roses, Perennial flowers etc. I keep them in a plastic sleeve in a ring binder. Each season I put all the annual tags together in a jar so I can look at them if needed. I keep the annual tags until the next year to refresh my memory and remind me of a particular one that I favored. In my ring binder are some pockets that I put some notes or articles on subjects I've looked up. Of course I also take pictures which helps a lot to remember all that I've got out there. I keep saying I'm going to make tags to place by the plants but I never do it.

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    1. I agree Liz, the annual tags are important to keep from one year to the next.

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  13. I did this for my last house and it helped me remember what bulbs were planted where and when. Keeping the tags and receipts came in handy for some of the plantings that had a guarantee {and didn't make it}.
    Now that I'm garden planning and building again - and there will be new files.

    You deserve a pretty garden file box...maybe with flowers on it.

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    1. That's true Katherine. I also keep receipts for a year for that very reason, as most places (HomeDepot/Lowes) and nurseries will guarantee them for a year.

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  14. So organized, you have inspired me. I actually have a large folder in my desk drawer, that has all my tags, but the note book is a great idea...found one, and am starting it this year. Thanks!!! donna :)

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    1. As someone mentioned, you'll enjoy looking back and reading all the things you did in a particular year Donna!

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  15. Wonderful ideas from you and everyone else who's commented! Love them!

    When we purchased our NH property (almost) six years ago, I purchased a small, leather journal in which to keep gardening notes. I sketched diagrams of the flower beds in it, and every time I add a plant or two, I add it to my diagram. It's very useful to keep me from digging up bulbs in August. I also write down everything we plan on planting in the kitchen garden. I draw a diagram of that garden on a loose piece of graph paper which sort of moves with me from the potting table to the garden, until eventually I'm done with it, and I store it in the leather journal.

    LOVE the idea of saving the tags though! Thanks so much for the tip!

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    1. I'm a huge fan of graph paper;)!! I don't do many bulbs, but can totally see that it would helpful to not dig them up:)

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  16. Joan,
    I need to do a better job of chronicling the garden year round. I used to keep a garden journal, sort of. Now I keep all of the garden tags on new to me plants. I also started writing what I do and when I do it to various spots in the garden. You've inspired me, I need to do a better job. My memory isn't as good as it used to be and I definitely need to keep better records.
    Thanks for this.
    Karen

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    1. After 6 months of winter I sometimes forget even the old and familiar plant names;) It's nice to have the reminder at hand!

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  17. Such an inspiration! I am not nearly as organized as you. But this makes me think of a book by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Von Arnim. It is called "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" and it is a year's diary written by Elizabeth about her experiences learning gardening and interacting with her friends. This sounds boring, but it is actually very humorous and a book that was hard to put down.

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    1. I read the description and it sounds charming Michelle! Love that it was first published in 1898.

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  18. I keep pictures for reference but this is a GREAT idea. My hubby keeps all the tags from bushes etc. so I will get some envelopes and a box for everything. Thanks for the ideas!!!!

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    1. I forgot to mention that I will also sharpie on the tag the year that I planted the plant/flower. That is helpful too.

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  19. Dear God....what a simple and great idea. One I never thought of...how sad is that. I have a million yellow stickies on my desk to remind me of things, I call back and forth from home to work to leave reminders for myself, but I never thought to do a personal garden book. Once again.....thank you for your tips and introducing me to Kelly's blog. Will it ever warm up here in New England!??

    Bev

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    1. I don't know Bev;) I wore sweats, a hoodie, a scarf and gloves on our walk yesterday and today. I keep a running small (white) legal notebook with me (or at least within grabbing distance) at all times.... my "lists" as they are know. I would be lost without the many pages of lists as I write everything down so then I don't have to think about it and can just read my lists! I'm better when the lists aren't just in my brain!!

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  20. When I started gardening some 20 years ago I kept a journal, and it is fun to look back on it now, but I am so haphazard in my garden planning and planting, and I have not kept a journal in years. I found that after moving into a large property and having stars in my eyes and thrilled with so much space to garden, that I had bit off way more than I could chew. Caring for parents at the end of their lives took precedence over gardens, and I needed to reduce the size of my gardens and make them a more manageable scope. Now I need to reclaim my yard, and maybe keeping a journal again is just the inspiration I need to get going. Unfortunately I think I have lost some significant anchor plants this past winter due to the unusual cold.

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    1. I think I lost some Blue Princess hollies that we had planted as a screen from the road in the winter, and I'm so bummed. I've seen a neighbor who lost two huge rhodies at the front of her house.... it was indeed a really cold and harsh winter.

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  21. I've always kept my tags, including annuals, and used to religiously keep a journal. Now, though, I find it easier just to search my blog, where I chronicle (in boring detail!) what I've planted where. I've also found that taking many pictures is a must, especially since I move things around a lot. It's really fun to see how things have grown by comparing yearly photos.

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    1. Agree on the lots of photos part Durf. It really is fun to see how things grow from year to year. I think true gardeners love pictures of other peoples "in boring detail" photos! It's what we do;)

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  22. i keep tags, but I also take a picture of my garden each season so I remember where the plants are and what needs to be moved.

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  23. Happy Spring to you! This post is a nice little kick in the pants to remind me of why I need to get back to organizing my gardens plantings! Why do I think that I will remember plantings without writing it down?!? Looks like your Spring is like our Ohio Spring: slowly but surely arriving!!

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    1. Hi Tina, I do the same thing. I find myself thinking 'Oh, I'll remember that..." Not. Brain trying to trick me!

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  24. Joan, Joan, Joan....Must you always make me feel like a slug? Now I feel like a baaad gardener. I *tried* to keep a journal. Then I forgot where I put it.

    Your ideas are really fantastic...And your gardens...bar none!!

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    1. Ha- no "slug" feeling necessary;) I didn't mean it to sound like the minute I plant something or do something in the yard I run up to file it! I throw the tags in a pot in the basement until there's so many I can't ignore them anymore and then bring them in to wash them. Then I usually toss them in the box until I think about filing them in their respective envelopes. And, I will jot notes on my 24/7 running list and tear off the piece and stick it in my notebook to write down later. I can easily get months (or a season:) behind. I keep the journal in the box, so I know where to find it;) xxo

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  25. ...any day there is a new post from the farmhouse is a good day!....we learn so much from your sharing...the farmer would agree...however i will bet his notes were a bit different...blessings laney

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    1. Nice to hear from you Laney! Yes, I would love to get ahold of the farmers' ledgers- wouldn't those be something to see?!!

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  26. I appreciate your simple system which is similar to mine. May I add, I have a drawn piece of paper showing all water lines, buried power lines etc. It is extremely helpful!

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    1. I don't dig that deep of holes Ann!;) Seriously, I think that is a very smart thing to have on hand. We recently had Dig Safe come out when doing some digging associated with our well.

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  27. Another post! Yea! I have a question (though unrelated to your interior rather than your lovely exterior). Your posts on the marble in your beautiful ktichen convinced me to take the plunge and use them in the kitchen remodel of our 200 year old house when we move (thanks for the info!). But....I would love your opinion on a debate I have been having with my (also much older) sister. My kitchen will be open to my family room, and in my family room I have a brown leather sofa and a seagrass rug with a brown border. My sister thinks the gray tones in the marble will not work well with the browns in the decor. I am hoping that by choosing a gray paint with some brown undertones in it on the walls, it can work. If it helps the cabinets will be white and there is a large red brick fireplace and medium brown wood floors. Thoughts from the master? Thanks! --Shannon

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    1. hi Shannon, I don't do "matchy" interiors (colors/styles)... I prefer a more blended look and that goes for colors too. I think grey and brown are gorgeous together- a classic and I think they would easily work in your open kitchen. A grey with some brown undertones should ease the transition. Another thought is that you aren't married to the brown border on the seagrass;) I think that might be my next post just for you!! :)

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  28. I just started gardening recently and really have no clue what I'm doing. I've probably thrown away half of my plant tags :-( As they say....you live and you learn. Thanks for the post. I'll definitely use some of your organization tips.

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  29. Hi Joan- thanks for sharing your methods. I have kept oodles of articles and pretty pictures in plastic sheets protectors in a notebook for inspiration. I have not been very organized on how I store tags from our plantings. I keep them but then have to sort thru them all. Such a great solution to use those envelopes. :)

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  30. I also like to keep my notes and I also take pictures each year to see how everything is progressing. I try to renovate/improve one side of the house each year, in a constant rotation so I have something to plan for and it's not overwhelming. I also keep all the plant tags and try to note "how much" for mulches and soil additives.

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  31. I don't keep outside notebooks, but I do keep file folders for inside and pictures as well. I note yardages for fabrics, fabric/trim swatches, paint swatches, new ideas etc.. I file them under the seasons with Christmas as the 5th file. I also keep notes of which bedding sets etc., are stored in the attic and which have gone on to the great textile heaven. (or the Goodwill :^)
    I make all of our drapes, curtains, bedding sets, chair cushions and covers etc., so I have fat files :^)
    Thank you for the idea to do this for outside as well....of course my "plans" for outside usually boil down to what is available that will withstand high heat and no water....ugh.....
    Blessings to you,
    J

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  32. This is Brilliant. I love the idea of keeping the plant tags in an envelope. I am so unorganized. Your post has been a big help for me. Thanks
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

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  33. Keeping the tags is a wonderful idea, which I will start doing immediately! I am now following your blog and look forward to reading more :-)

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  34. Joan, I keep my tags in a Ziploc bag and the details in my memory. The former is as disorganized as the latter! So you've encouraged me to step it up a notch.

    I was scrolling through this and your last post. Do you really have painters at your house each year for the exterior? I know the northern climates are not kind to the outdoors.

    Angela

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    1. We do Angela; so far it has been for touch ups since we first painted the entire exterior only 4 years ago. But, you are correct- the weather here really does a number on wood exteriors. In fact, it is not uncommon for people with antique homes to have one side painted each year and we are considering starting that tradition. It keeps the costs of maintenance and painting a large house more manageable.

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  35. Hope you are well and enjoying this Memorial Day. Hugs!

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  36. Hi Joan! I haven't been in blogland much, and I miss reading you! How I wish I were an organized person -- keeping garden info the way you do is such a great thing, and I am totally inspired. I never remember what I plant where! I hope you are doing well and enjoying the spring. I'd love to meet up this summer ;-)

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  37. Hi, such a good post. I keep my notes in a plain white notebook fitted with those clear page protectors. I tape my tags on a piece of paper and make notes. But I like your system better. xo, N.G.

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  38. Hi Joan! I got the comment on my blog asking about the makeup blog - it's http://www.maryjanesmakeup.blogspot.com . I've haven't updated it in a while because my mom is nearing the end and it makes me so sad to even go over to the blog. Thank you so much for looking for me though!

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  39. You are so organized! It makes me so jealous!

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  40. What wonderful organization tips for your garden.

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  41. It's now the end of July and I just saw this post…! I had done a post on organizing my gardening notes here: http://www.libbywilkiedesigns.com/2014/04/friday-flowers-lets-get-organized.html But I have to say, I haven't even gotten it together to start this brand new, gorgeous notebook…too busy gardening. So I am hoping to transition into it during the cooler, indoor months. Keeping tags is essential, but now I like to make notes on the pages beside them.

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  42. Hi, I use those mini photo albums for the plant tags. The tags slide into the plastic clear sleeves and I staple an index card to the tag with when,where,cost,date,ect. So if a plant did well and I want to buy more,I just take the mini album with me to the nursery. I also write on the index card if the plant didn't do well or died or became invasive and to remind me never to buy again. Hope this little tip could help with the garden. It helps me keep track.

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