Sunday, October 20, 2013

Organization

I admire gardeners who excel at documentation. Garden journals, spreadsheets, detailed maps  and planting calendars- I have tried all of them at one time or another in the 30 plus years I have been making gardens, and most were as short lived as my Eryngiums. I know gardeners who diligently keep daily records of high and low temperatures, rainfall, wind speed and direction, moon phases...you name it. I was triumphant the year I actually recorded the date I sowed seeds, and the date they germinated.

 Several years ago I went to a plant swap that included books and there, pristine and untouched,  
was this impressive hard bound garden journal. I had seen it before in a mail order catalog and knew it was pricy; I snatched it up without even looking at the rest of the book offerings-here was the answer to my lackadaisical record keeping.!


10 years at a glance ! Garden maps !



Predictably, it remains unused on my bookcase . Whats the point in mapping a garden I change every year?  The book has the heft of an encyclopedia volume , and no weatherproofing-not something I could carry around the garden unless I rigged up a desk on wheels. Looks nice on the bookcase though. Clearly the gardener who offered this at the plant swap had similar issues to mine.

  I am happy to say that I did eventually develop a very rustic system of documenting my garden. It's a two part affair, consisting of organizing plant labels and written records. I gave myself permission to write sporadically, and I recognized that I am a list maker -sometimes self awareness is needed in the garden. I bought a spiral notebook, and simply started making lists of things I wanted to accomplish , and crossed them out when completed.This is a de facto history as long as I remember to put the month and year on each page. I like writing in pencil, so that is what I use.



 And here we have the Tag-Bags ..Each named area in the garden has it's own bag. When I  plant something the tag goes in it's bag. If I move something, I move the tag too. A few times a year I go through the bags and toss the stuff I dug up . The bags are binder-clipped together and hang from a nail over the workbench in my garage.



 This fall I am adding a "Dead or Discarded" bag...I expect I will be horrified by the volume of it's contents.








10 comments:

  1. Any record you can maintain is a good record in my book. I keep an excel spreadsheet into which I log information from plant tags, the source of my purchase, planting date and, sometimes, comments on plant performance. However, tags tend to accumulate for awhile before I get around to attending to my log and updates (e.g. striking lines through entries for dead plants) are haphazard at best. Still, when I can't remember the name of that great plant on one corner or another, at least I have a place to start looking...

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    1. Kris, you are impressive. I guess I have too many spreadsheets to deal with at the office..don't want to look at them at home.

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  2. Oh My, it never occurred to me that my Garden To Do Lists could have been used as a record of what I've accomplished in the garden. That is pretty brilliant. I'm just dreadful at documentation too. I have a couple of ziploc bags of tags, as well as several four-inch pots outside on my potting bench, all full of tags. I've been thinking I really should get organized this winter.

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    1. The to-do list notebook is one of the best things I've done..wish I'd come up with it 20 years ago !

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  3. I wonder if I should adopt your tag bag approach. It has merit. Currently mine are taped into the pages of several notebooks. I seem to be able to remember plant purchases roughly cronolicially so it gives me a place to start looking. On the event of taping in new tags (usually a early winter task) I try to go through and draw a line throughout dead and dug things. I try not to dwell or it could become hugely depressing.

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    1. Loree, I was putting them in the pockets of spiral notebooks, but that really had no rhyme or reason-I'd look through them and wonder were the hell the stuff was! Since the bags each represent an area of the garden at least I could relate the tag to a geographical location. You bring up a good point with the chronological issue--I should write a date on the label before I bag it. You've improved my system !

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  4. Hahaha...I totally know how you feel...I'm perenially unable to keep real records...aside from the pot of plant labels (a surprisingly large amount). My only real records are the hundreds of photos I constantly take...and my blog :-)

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    1. Scott, if I had photos like yours I wouldn't care if I kept records !

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  5. I have that gardener's journal and I actually used to write in it. A few years ago the hard drive crashed on my last laptop and with it went my excel spreadsheet listing all the plants in my garden. After that I gave up keeping any kind of records and now just toss all the plant tags in a brown paper bag. Occasionally I rummage through it in hopes of finding a cultivar name. Last year I made "the list" as a way to prioritize what I needed to do. Maybe I'll do that again. Or maybe not.

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  6. I am so impressed with your tag bags for each area and dead plant bag ideas. I shall certainly copy them. Mind you, an ever-growing dead plant bag will be a bit dispiriting. I, too have a beautiful gardener's journal which is still in the pristine state that it was when it was given me 2 years ago.
    Chloris

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