My gardens have taken many forms over the years and I'm a firm believer that anyone can garden just about anywhere. When I first started out, I grew a few herbs on my windowsill because I lived in a tiny apartment and had no green space of my own. That little basil plant in my kitchen got me hooked! When we moved to a new home we joyfully ripped out the back lawn and put in raised beds for veggies.
Next we lived in the shade of the forest, we enjoy an ever-expanding container garden on the deck. (I talk about some of my favorite plants for containers here.)
Every year I grow as a gardener. And each season I learn something new- which plants thrive where I live and which don't. Which gardening practices work and which don't. After a few years I knew I needed a way to chronicle this journey and track my learnings.
So I started a garden binder
For me, digging in the dirt, feeling the earth in my hands, has become a sacred practice and one I've documented for many years. Along with the practical aspects of gardening that I want to track (planting dates, seasonal patterns, seed inventory, etc) I also wanted to write and sketch about my love of gardening: why I garden, how I feel when I watch something grow from a seed (triumph!), what it means to be mindful as one season transitions into the next. To fit this all into one place, I started using a 3-ring binder to hold it all. It's part journal, part planner, part almanac and part sketchbook. It's a big, messy, mud splattered, chronicle of my gardens over the years. And over time it has evolved into a creative place to sketch and write and has become a cherished piece of our family's history.
Why keep it in a binder?
- I like to keep all of my gardening information in one place and that can be a lot of pages! Given that I divide my binder into several sections, I need enough space to hold it all.
- It's adjustable! I'm constantly tweaking and adjusting how I organize my information.
- I can choose to use plastic page protectors if I plan to use certain sections outdoors.
- Most pre-made garden planners don't incorporate all the sections I want so this way I can add and remove pages as I wish and fully customize it.
How to organize your garden binder
I created a printable PDF Garden Planner & Journal here. It's a great place to start if you want to create your own garden binder. It includes 37 printable pages for you to organize and add to as you wish.
Garden binder sections:
- Planning: Graph paper or a planning grid to map out what you will grow where.
- Tracking: A place to track when you start seeds, your seed inventory, seasonal checklists, budget.
- Journaling: As a journaling evangelist, I find it rewarding and valuable to chronicle my time in the garden. And it's fun to look back over the years and see how my garden has evolved. For me, I don't always know what to write about so I prefer journaling prompts. In my Garden Planner & Journal PDF I have several different prompts to get you started.
- Sketching: As a painter, there are few things I enjoy as much as sitting in my garden, painting. I sketch on card stock if I'm using pencil or I use watercolor paper if I'm painting.
- Inspiration: In my binder I've included my dad's garden sketch when he was planning our family garden in 1989. I have saved magazine clippings, recipes, photographs. Be creative!
- Preservation: A place to record what I plan to do with my produce this year, canning inventory, do I plan to donate any produce? Host a food swap?
Want more garden inspiration?
- My friend Laura is an avid gardener and I love seeing what she is planting, reading, cooking each month. She also has some lovely garden-themed embroidery patterns in her shop. This one is on my wish list.
- This website is pure eyecandy. Be prepared to linger....
- My friend Becky is offering this fun DIY printable garden stake PDF. A great project for kids of all ages.
- If you're interested in starting a garden but don't know where to begin, my friend Nici has this printable garden guide for beginners.
- And lastly, I saved this saying for years, knowing I wanted to use it someday. Now it is one of my favorite prints in my shop. :)
Thanks friends and happy gardening!