Does anyone keep a Plant Journal or is it just me?


#1

Long time lurker, first time poster.
I am fairly new to growing things on a bigger scale on my own. Being in zone 4 I find almost all the harvest calendars are tailored to Zone 5 and above. And I find plants mislabeled for the incorrect zones which means I have to do more research before purchasing. I am maxed out on space with my 1/2 acre lot and with many large trees shading most of the property. Careful planning had to be done to make certain plants work for the space. Orchards here all grow the same dozen varieties. I understand it’s supply and demand as well as our climate sucks for growing things.

But through careful observation I have been able to take notes on each of my plants for my own research as more things matured.
In my notes I input when fruit is first visible, bees are pollinating, first sign of disease, harvest times as well as characteristics of plant growth. I am moving in the next 6 months and unfortunately can’t take any of the plants with me. So I will be starting over with a blank slate.

My biggest struggle has been rabbits. After having almost every plant eaten to the ground my first year I made a few changes. I was able to chicken wire around my fences in the few spots they were getting in through. I also fenced in around each plant area. It’s not uncommon to see 6 or more running around at any given time here.

I grow a wide variety of plants each a different variety.
13 blueberries,
2 honeyberry
2 apples
4 raspberry
2 cherry bushes
2 elderberry
3 current

One interesting thing I found was the japanese beetles didn’t touch my Royalty purple raspberries, but they decimated my Anne Yellows. I had to use bird netting on the Royalty as the birds were getting the majority of them. The only thing I could think of was maybe it was too thorny for the beetles. My neighbor next door has 2 bird feeders and 2 bird baths so the overflow comes to my yard.
Everyone told me birds don’t touch elderberries. Well they ate all mine.
I might follow this up with a review of each plant if I get the time.


#2

I keep a journal but I don’t keep that many details. I’m in 6a and to me that is too cold. I can’t grow a lot that are almost hardy here. But I push the zone all the time. Grow them anyways. Some work, some do not.


#3

In zone 4 you probably can learn more from the member like @hungryfrozencanuck4b. He has posted very helpful thread of his fruit progress here, too.


#4

@Midwest,
This is one of his thread My Backyard planting experience (Part 2) - Zone 4a/b Quebec, Canada


#5

I have a spreadsheet that has the following sheets

  1. My orchard maintenance schedule - when to do what for each species of fruit (ex: when to spray for what, when to fertilize, when to prune, when to graft)
  2. My “haves” (screenshot below) - what fruit variety I have of each species, where I got it from, when it was planted, when the harvest season starts and ends each year
  3. My “wants” - what variety I plan to buy/graft in the future and notes as to why I am interested in it, links to a relevant discussion

On top of that I walk around every week or two and record a ‘video journal entry’ of the state of things; being sure to mention how the weather has been, if there are any signs of pests or disease, things that were harvested, etc.


#6

I haven’t taken the time to Digitize all my notes yet, but I plan on doing that soon. This would definitely would make it easier to search and sort.


#7

Very nice… That’s inspiring me to make some changes and add some columns to mine. Particularly like the harvest calendar columns…


#8

I keep a yearly journal since I started planting my fruit trees in 2013. It is a little book I put my notes in it. To me it easier to to look at my book than drag around a computer.


#9

I like to have a book too, I do use the computer also. It has helped, no doubt. One problem is the weather never the same much, and it seems harvest dates, and planting dates and whatever vary year to year. A long record is needed. I’m not always on top of it as I have a life that often gets in the way. So many house projects and social projects, etc. Efficiency is a must and good records can be very helpful. I know my plants well, so I can just look at my garden and see things to do. Pruning is coming!


#10

I kept a detailed garden journal for about 15 years. One year I noticed I never ever looked back into it.
It had become an annoyance to me feeling compelled to write down weather details despite the fact that the weather was never the same twice and it never seemed to really help me- so I stopped. Now I just keep a record of what perennials and trees get planted where because that I tend to lose track of over the years.


#11

welcome! I’m in the same zone as you and i know the struggles. you get less rain than i do so that also makes it harder to keep things productive. i don’t keep very detailed records but i have a notebook i jot things in. i have 3/4 of a acre with 50+ varieties of fruit , nuts and mecinidals growing. i also am growing what you have and more. maybe we could trade cuttings and plants in the future. I’ve triailed many things that didn’t make it or didn’t have enough a growing season to ripen here. finally got blackberry varieties that grow and ripen here. took me near 5 years to source them and now i have 3 varieties that will produce for me this summer. if theres a will theres a way! good luck and once again , welcome!


#12

I have a spreadsheet very similar to yours. I also take narrated videos / pictures of anything unusual I see in the orchard with my iPhone. Two or three times a year I systematically take pictures of every tree in the orchard. (I often say that the iPhone is my most useful garden tool). I find it hard to keep up with data logging into the spreadsheet. The last two years, I’ve simply written up a page or two summary of events of the year based on the pictures and video. It’s a fun winter activity. The Spreadsheet is good for planting info, and I eventually plan on recording pressed juice data, but for the ongoing, erratic day to day orchard status data, it’s difficult to keep up with. And so I’ve neglected it…


#13

@Drew51 @PatapscoMike @GardenGekko This is basically the same way I feel about spreadsheet logging (or journaling). The more things I need to update each year, the less likely I am to do it. So the only thing I update in my spreadsheets is first harvest date and last harvest date, and that’s mostly for coverage planning in case I decide to add or drop varieties and for reference for when I inevitably move to a new location.

Highest ROI has been on doing a every-two-week video journal. I actually find myself re-watching some of the videos during the winter when I start getting excited for the coming growing season and its really educational. Its also nice to watch videos exactly one year ago during the growing season to see how things compare and see what problems I was facing at the time last year, or a week or two into the future.


#14

@dimitri_7a. I need to start taking more pictures and video as well. That would be a big help with how i plant things the next time.

I know now royalty needs more space than 2 feet wide. 3 would have been better. I planted them 4 feet apart and they completely filled in the space and grew bigger than i thought. I knew they would sucker, but i have never seen anything quite like that.


#15

I have a color coded spreadsheet of all my berry plants and fruit trees that show the supposed dates of ripening. It’s funny I have it because just a few of my 29 trees have even produced, and that was 5 apple and one pear trees last year.

Also have a spreadsheet that shows the layout of my trees and plants on the farm.

I do keep track of what veggies I plant every year, usually charts of what’s planted where. Especially because of all the tomatoes and peppers I grow.

I also have written down the amount and types of amendments I’ve made to various garden and berry plots over the years. Using soil test reports and then admending, I’ve been able to really improve the nutrient profile and pH of my plots.

Regarding J beetles, they shred my three pluot trees, and go after a few of my apples. They also like to get after my bush cherries.

My biggest varmit issue used to be deer, so I have just about all my trees behind 4ft fencing. Some of my pears are now unprotected, but deer have mostly left them alone. But, thankfully deer have become less of a problem over the last few years, mostly due to a couple bad years of disease outbreaks. They used to savage my gardens, but last year I had very little damage.

I have had rabbits chew on a couple of my apple trees last year, so now I have tubes down on the trunks to keep them and other rodents off them.


#16

Yes, I spend the winter planning out the next year, mapping the garden. I have a veg garden (usually timed plantings of several types of corn) and permanent ever expanding orchard. During the summer I note the growth of everything, map what I put in, note harvests etc. I also write down info I come across on this forum and others if I might need it later. I love looking back at it and making decisions based in past performance of plants and methods.


#17

@Rach - Over the holidays I put together a very detailed plan for my garden, mapping out where everything is going to go and scheduling in great detail when things need to get done (starting seedlings indoors, transplanting, etc). I joked with my family on New Year’s Day that I was already behind schedule in the garden. I’m going to make an attempt this year to greatly expand my gardening space, maximize the time each bed is planted and double or triple the varieties I grow. In previous years I’ve found that I just haven’t accomplished what I wanted too or maximized the garden’s potential bc I had vague ideas of what I wanted to do but no concrete plan. Given the lead times required in gardening, the lack of detailed planning allowed tasks to slip through the cracks. So I’m hoping that a detailed plan will be valuable, even if I don’t follow it precisely.


#18

I have been keeping a log for several years. Knowing certain things like bloom time and ripening time is important to me. As I get more data I can reduce the presence of trees that their fruit consistently get killed by cold weather etc. I keep my records on a google sheet. The Control Find feature allows me to review such things as the ripening date of my Lane muscadine for several years.


#19

I keep a journal and it is one of my favorite past times. I was a scrapbooker and watercolorist so it seemed like the perfect transition. I write down first bloom, pests, fruit on tree, and final fruit harvested. From time to time I have taken photos of every tree, printed them about 2 x 3, and attached them in the book (I have 43 trees now). Since my fruit trees numbers have increased over time, I do a drawing of what trees are where. Then I do a narrative over time of pruning, holistic sprays, bee hive checks, problems like fire blight, etc. I learn a lot by looking back. I also have things I would like to have done better. I vow this year to write the date for pink for every tree.


#20

@Rosdonald I hope to someday have a more complete list I can share with someone in my zone to help them on their journey. It’s a shame to see just how many fruit trees and plants have been lost to the test of time.