Sustainable Gardening: Keeping a Gardening Journal

Sustainable Gardening: Keeping a Gardening Journal

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” – Bill Mollison aka Father of Permaculture

Of all the things I’ve tried my hand at during my green journey, growing my own food has been by far my biggest accomplishment. Gardening is an opportunity for me to give back to the earth; to restore the ecological balance of my modern lifestyle. Unlike ‘armchair activists’ and ‘slacktivists’, I practice what I preach and believe that leading by example – sustainable growing of my own food – is one of the most effective ways to encourage people to get ‘back down to earth’ and connect with nature in a tangible way.

Sustainable Gardening- Keep an Organic Gardening Journal

Now it may seem weird to some but I view my lifestyle and its impact on the planet much like a bookkeeper views the bank balance of a business.

I keep a mental tally of lifestyle ‘debits’ and ‘credits’.

In the ‘debits’ column I keep a mental record of my activities that negatively impact the environment aka my carbon footprint. This column includes things like:

  • air travel
  • driving my car
  • shopping for new items

In the ‘credits’ column are activities I undertake that are carbon neutral or carbon positive. This column includes things like:

We take so much from the earth. The least I can do is give back to our planet by growing my own food.

Now while some people spend time in their gardens for relaxation purposes, sowing seeds and planting purely for pleasure, I am a project-oriented Type-A personality and view gardening the way I view most other activities I undertake: a project complete with goals, deliverables and defined outcomes.

Since two of my goals is to a) become a better overall gardener and b) to grow almost all of the food I consume (currently my diet consists of 50 percent homegrown produce, 50 percent purchased elsewhere), I carefully apply myself to the subject of organic gardening by reading lots of books and then putting into practice what I’ve learned. My gardening bible at the moment is ‘The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener by master gardener Eliot Coleman. This is essential reading for any wannabe gardener.

The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman
The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman

Just a heads up, I am still only an amateur gardener and still getting into a proper gardening rhythm. However, I’m confident that armed with my ‘gardening bible’ and my methodical approach to work and focus on systematising tasks, I will become a much better gardener.

Since I love tracking progress so as to find improvements and efficiencies, I’ve also created a basic Gardening Journal. Here’s what mine looks like:

Organic Gardening- Keeping a Gardening Journal
Gardening Journal

Sustainable Gardening- Keeping a Gardening Journal

Sustainable Gardening- Keeping Gardening Records

My gardening journal will help me document my gardening practices and find patterns in my methodology to which I can further capitalise on. In so doing, I hope to be able to make further improvements in my technique to maximise garden health and productivity.

In addition, these records will help me track failures and successes in the garden, allows others to make sense of what’s happening without my needing to be there physically to tell them what’s what, and it will help make me more mindful of what’s going on in the garden.

If you’d like to grab a copy of my Gardening Journal, just click on the link for a downloadable PDF version.

Related Post: Sustainable Gardening: An Eco-Conscious Gardener’s Basic Toolkit

It’s likely that I will continue to fine tune my gardening journal, but for now, this one works well for what I need. The most important thing with gardening journals or any type of gardening record is to use it, complete it and ensure that you spend lots of time in your gardens enjoying and observing your plants. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

I’d love to hear how you keep track of plants in your garden. Feel free to leave a comment below and share your record-keeping tips!

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