The Gardener's Notebook

Earlier, I posted about planting strategies that you can use to make gardening easier and more fruitful.

One of the organizing tools that I have used since I first began gardening in our yard some fifteen years ago, is a Gardener's Notebook. I started with a gardening hanging file and after quickly outgrowing that, I upgraded to a three-ring binder with a cover that zips closed. When choosing my notebook, I gravitated towards the kid's section of the office supply store because their notebooks are always so much more fun. The one I use is covered in some kind of heavy-duty microfiber with fuzzy flowers on the front. You could also make your own like the ones in the flickr photo above. The photographer, Lana Stewart, uses cool scrapbook paper to dress up her three-ring binders.

Inside my handy Gardener's Notebook are:

  • Tabbed pages to divide the sections. My sections include:
    • Annualized Schedule - list of when to fertilize and prune different plants. I've also loaded this schedule into my Outlook calendar to help keep me on track with these chores.
    • Hosta (I LOVE hosta so they get their own tab)
    • Misc. Shade Plants
    • Soil Amending
    • Landscaping Plans
    • Feng Shui Gardening
    • Vendors for Plants, Stones, and Supplies
  • Plastic 8 1/2 x 11" sleeves to hold gardening catalogs. I only keep a few and throw out the old when the new one arrives. I mostly use these for the inspiration that the pretty photos provide.
  • Zipper pocket to hold receipts and plant markers. This has been helpful when I have needed to determine what variety of a particular plant I have. Because we have so many leaves in the fall, garden markers get raked up in my garden. So now I just slip them in my notebook for safekeeping.
  • Plastic picture sleeves to hold photos of the garden. My favorite feature of my Gardening Notebook! It's so inspiring to see how small plants, shrubs and trees fill out over the years. If you stick with it and are lucky enough to stay in the same place for a few years, gardening really teaches you patience.
By keeping all of my research notes and plant lists in one spot, I have saved myself lots of time and energy whenever I have built a new bed in the garden or have needed to replace a plant that has outgrown its space. The notebook also helps me stay on schedule with all of my gardening maintenance chores and enables me to better track which plants work and don't work in my yard. What tools do you gardeners out there use to keep your info organized?