Garden Journal 101 & mdash; Tilth Alliance

Garden Journal 101 & mdash; Tilth Alliance

Garden Journal 101 & mdash; Tilth Alliance

An introduction to garden journalism from Willi Galloway, former Tilth board member, creator of, and Organic Gardening's West Coast Editor.

By Willi Galloway

Last year I grew the gorgeous variety of pumpkin. The vigorous, disease-free vine meandered through my herb garden and produced loads of large, deep green, rumpled fruit with bright orange flesh. This was by far the best pumpkin I've ever grown. My only problem? I do not have a clue what the variety was. To prevent this frustrating issue from happening again, I've resolved to keep records of what I plant in my garden. Here's my plan:

Make a Map

I drew a simple map of my vegetable garden on graph paper and made several copies. As I plant my garden this spring, I plan on noting what vegetables I grew up on my map. I also plan on using the map as a basis for a crop rotation plan.

Plants that belong to the same family-such as the solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants-share diseases and pests. A basic way to avoid disease and pest problems is to practice crop rotation. Simply group your plants from the same family together and rotate them to a different spot in the garden each year.

Mapping your garden makes it easier to group plants together and remember where they need to be rotated to the following spring! plant families include the Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mustard greens), Vegetables (peas, beans, beans), Alliums (garlic, onions, shallots, chives), and Cucurbits and summer squash.

Start a Variety Log Book

One of my favorite gardening bloggers (Kathy from Skippy's Vegetable Garden) posts a monthly photo of her garden. The result? A very cool, visual chronology of how her garden changes through the seasons. I want to follow Kathy's lead and photograph my garden at least seasonally, plus take glamor shots of my favorite varieties.

Continue My Garden Blog

The blog format lends itself to a kind of online garden journal for a number of reasons. First, it's simple to post photos online. You can assign tags to each post, making it easy to search for particular varieties or vegetables later in the season. Blog entries are also chronologically organized, but you also have the option to update older posts whenever you like. This feature makes it easy to create posts for each variety and amends them throughout the season, just as you would in a paper journal.

By keeping my garden map, variety log, and blog up-to-date This year, I hope to set the stage for future gardens that are healthy, productive, and full of vegetables that I can identify without having to rely on my memory.

Willi Galloway is a former Seattle Tilth board member and the founder of

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