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How often, and what, do you log in your journals? How do you remember to?

master steward
Posts: 12634
Location: Pacific Northwest
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I find myself logging whenever I have the chance...which is whenever I can find my journal, have a brain that's funtioning enought to    remember to journal...and time enough to do so. Sometimes I go months (late summer-winter) without writing. Other times I write every other day, or even twice a day. I try to log:

  • When & what & where I plant or transplant something
  • When certain plants bloom, and which ones bloomed earliest

  •      * salmonberries
         * red huckleberries
         * wild strawberries
         * dandelions
         * native blackberries, Himalayan blackberries
         * Raspberries
         * lilacs
         * daffodiles
         * apples
         * Cherries
  • When the above plants actually fruited
  • Abnormal weather events, like a month without rain, or first light and first hard frosts, late snows, etc.
  • When an animal is spotted
  • When a mother duck gets broody on some eggs
  • when the ducklings hatch
  • A long span without duck eggs
  • When I finish a new garden bed, or do lots of mulching or something

  • I seem to log the most in late winter and early spring when I'm trying to figure out when to plant...but I tend to forget to by summer. I wish I'd been recording when my squash & tomatoes and other annuals were ready to harvest. I really wish I logged more and logged more comprehensively...but it's so hard to remember, and half the time I can't find my journal because my kids pick it up and move it somewhere, or I put it down somewhere weird because I got interrupted journaling by my kids needing me.

    How do you remember to log stuff in? What do you log?
    Posts: 316
    Location: Virginia
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    I have been trying to do better with recording results.  After not being able to remember to make notes in a notebook, I just make brief notes on my wall calendar.  

    It might just be a note of first blueberries.  I was ambitious the last 2 years and noted the amounts harvested for the berries but not for anything else in the garden.  I thought it wasnt a great year until I totalled up 52 pounds in 7 weeks.  I try to remember to make notes of when I plant something.

    I also note the number of eggs so I can keep an eye on when to stockpile for winter use.  In the bottom left corner of each day, I just write the number.  If I am trying to determine if a chicken is winding down in production, I will make a note of days she laid an egg.  My hieroglyphic for today would be "9 1b". 9 eggs, 1 blue egg.

    I am doing way better with this method than the others I have tried.  The more I try to add the less likely I am to do it๐Ÿ™„
    Posts: 5107
    Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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    I used to keep detailed records of the things I planted, when, where, why, how, etc.. How much was harvested, what it sold for. What I preserved etc. etc. etc. Then I couldn't find useful data when I wanted. it.

    These days, I keep approximately zero written records of what transpired. But I doodle with fantasies, and sometimes I follow through on them.

    About the only written records that I keep these days are labels on seed packets.

    The journal that has been most useful to me is photographs... Lots and lots of photographs, of all sorts of things. Then gallery software on my computer so that I can review them easily. Many times, if I have a question about some plant or other, I can find the answer in a photograph with a different subject, where the plant of interest was in the background. One year, I took photos of the seed packets, laid out in the order that I planted the garden. That was easy.  
    [Thumbnail for garden-2010-07-22.jpg]
    July 22, 2010.
    Posts: 7472
    Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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    I used to keep detailed records of the things I planted, when, where, why, how, etc.. How much was harvested, what it sold for. What I preserved etc. etc. etc. Then I couldn't find useful data when I wanted. it.

    This is familiar! I had notebooks where I wrote everything garden related and kept the temperature and weather related stuff on a calendar, then I had notebooks where I wrote general family stuff.  I was also my mom's legal guardian and kept records for her.  I quit and actually burned it all several years ago...set myself free from the fussiness of record keeping.

    Now, I'm comfortable using the gut and instinct method and memory when it serves...probably not the best way for many folks but it is working for me at this point in my life.  I do lots of observation every day and try to read the plants and landscape for clues for improvement...all of my words were just cluttering up my view.   I do take a lot of photos but they are not organized in any way but by digital folder and the date and then stored on flash drives.

    When I did keep records, the calendars were probably the most useful as I had weather and what I planted and harvested on certain days and years worth that I could compare although I rarely did.
    The journals were just running talk more or less with bits of information gleaned from books or other gardeners.
    master steward
    Posts: 3233
    Location: USDA Zone 8a
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    Years ago when I had a big vegetable garden I keep records on a Garden planner that we bought. It was helpful as it had companion plants on one side and we used a dry marker to record the info so it could be erased.

    Now days I use my yearly calendar and my project thread here on permies.  
    Posts: 304
    Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
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    I find I'm most productive and dilligent in note-keeping in the spring, and that makes sense: every day is a step forward, an exciting development after the steady emptiness of winter time. I'm especially focused on flowering times and temperature new highs / sudden throwbacks because the 2 things most on my mind in the spring are bees coming out of winter and late frosts.

    These are just notes typed into a word processing program, no photos. And every year again I say: ah, it would be so good if I kept photos too.

    Then in May and onwards as there are more and more things going on and needing attention, I fall back a lot in note-keeping and most of the stuff doesn't get logged unless I keep kicking myself that this is an entirely new development and really should have a record, like planting a new tree or starting a new bee hive. And I do log bee treatments (formic acid) and swarming as bee health is something that needs a whole-year point of view.

    During the summer heat and drought I'm mostly just glad to make it through the day because taking care of everything in hard conditions - keeping plants in good shape and collecting crops which still persist; this on top of my "day job" of software development which can have its bouts of intensity in duration and concentration. So no notes.

    As fall comes, I try to keep notes of ripeness dates concerning fruit trees - especially when it comes to those individual trees that have a crop for the first time (Asimina / PawPaw this year, 2 trees 10' years old after several years of bad luck - and what a glory this crop was! We're planting more :).

    Eventually in October I'm again dilligent in writing down about the weather and what I see in the wider area around us because this is the time when the bees are getting ready for the winter and if the circumstances are benevolent during this period, it's very good for them.

    I also aim to keep notes of fieldwork - sowing and harvesting dates or ciritical developments such as "air humidity was below what's needed for buckwheat nectar production for the last 2 weeks".

    This year we're having a somewhat unusual autumn weather pattern in that the temperature went down almost all the way to freezing at the beginning of October but keeps staying above 15 C = 60-ish F (with highs above 20 C = 70-ish F) in the daytime and 3-10 C (37-50 F) during the night. I can look at my notes and see that we had similar developments in 2013 and that the pattern persisted into mid-November when the weather suddenly looked at the calendar and went Oh my, it's time for winter. When I look at the forecasts it looks likely that this will be repeated in entirety.

    I find that up until some 5 years ago I was able to remember basically everything without writing things down. But as I grow older (I'll be 50 this year - it's a bit scary but I hear it happens to most people) my formerly super memory is not entirely what it used to be. Also, there is an overwhelming number of separate events and bits of information occuring at the (mini) farm over the year. So notes are definitely the way to go and it's good to give yourself a kick when you know it's a critical period of the year or a subject that you'll be glad to read about later.
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