Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Garden Geekery: Plant Profile Sheets and Other Fun

Any of you who follow me with any regularity (Hi Mom!) will have noticed that I haven’t posted a lot of garden pics lately. There’s a good reason for that. The garden just ain’t looking like much these days. Despite a major garden renovation a few months ago, my garden just isn’t taking off this season. I’m not sure why. Maybe the weather is to blame. Maybe I got started too late? Maybe the new soil needs a little time to “settle in”? Maybe I’m not watering at the right levels? Maybe I failed to offer the garden gods the appropriate sacrifices? Who knows? All I know is that most of the stuff I’ve planted is roughly the same size now as when I planted it a couple of months ago. Sigh. 

Happily, there are a few exceptions to this. My carrots & garlic (planted in October) and peas (planted earlier this month) are showing some progress: 

But yeah, overall, there’s not a lot show. Still, in my burning need for validation, I was thinking “There’s got to be something I can blog about! It’s been too long!” (I know, I know. This need for approval from strangers on the internet is so sad.) Then I realized that I had been working on something that might actually help other people, so I figured I’d blog about that. One of my resolutions this year was to keep better records, and Boy Howdy!, I think I nailed that one!

My records keeping folder and weight lifting system. Multitasking at its best. 

I don’t know about you, but I have an awful memory. And it gets worse all the time. I think that’s a blessing and a curse for a gardener. It’s a blessing to forget all the failures, because it keeps us coming back season after season for more gardening, but also, it dooms us to repeat them. So in an effort to make new mistakes every year instead of repeating the same old mistakes, I came up with a record keeping system.

It consists of a binder where I collect interesting articles and whatnot (see weight lifting picture above), but it also includes Word documents where I gather all the useful information I find on the Internet and checklists that I use to track my activities. Those Word docs are what I'm talking about here.

The first document is where the real action is. It's a list of all the information I’ve collected about various plants (mostly fruits and vegetables) over the last couple of years, including recommended varieties for my area, sunlight requirements, when to plant them, mulch requirements, watering requirements, links to useful websites, etc. That’s in the left column. The right column includes my notes about what I’ve done in my garden. That’s the “learn from my mistakes” part. (Lots of room for learning! Ha!) Here's a sample of what one of the pages looks like:

  Geektastic, yes?

Want more? Here's a link to the full-fledged doc: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7Kj6HJFxXdMNTR3WHdaU1NFRkU.

Want a version of your own where you can note your own experiences, observations, etc? No problem!  Here ya go: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7Kj6HJFxXdMYm9VUnBCSkFOR0E. I kept all the "General Info" in the left column, in case you find it useful, but cleared the right column for you write your own info in. (If you want one with the left column cleared too, just leave a message in the comments and I'll whip something up.) 

This second one is a little anti-climatic after that first one, but it might be a little less overwhelming. It’s a monthly checklist that I print out and put in a folder. It’s divided into two types of tasks: Things I need to remember to do every year (fertilize the fruit trees, prune the fruit trees, etc.) and things that I’m choosing to do this year (plant a particular type of vegi, buy a new type of fruit tree, etc.). Here's another sample for January:

Again, in case you're just dying to see more, here's a link to my personalized version: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Kj6HJFxXdMb3ZWNlV3Q2dacFU. And here's a link to a generic version you can use for your personal purposes, if you are so inclined: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7Kj6HJFxXdMTnNUQWg0ejNHdDQ.

I suppose if I spent all the time gardening that I spend on these documents, my garden might be doing better. But most of the time I spend on this stuff is 5 AM in the morning when it’s still dark. (What can I say? I’m an early riser.)

So for now, I’ll be happy I nailed at least one of my resolutions for the year, and hope that it pays of next year. 2014, here I come!

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