by Leigh Mills
Many of the gardening and homesteading books I’ve read suggest keeping a journal. Farmstead journals keep track of all the numbers and details that help determine the cost effectiveness of animals or certain crops, weather patterns, and other related items. Garden journals can be used to record germination rates, planting maps, insect populations, plant disease, and harvest amounts. I had been homesteading with animals and gardening for 6 years before I started my first journal.
When I began to garden years ago, the idea of keeping track of all the details did not interest me one bit. It seemed like too much work when there was work enough to do already. That all changed when I began researching honeybees a few years ago. The materials I read deepened my interest and practice of biodynamics and I purchased my first Biodynamic Planting Calendar/Gardening Journal in 2011. When I look back through the past three years of my calendars, I can see a gradual increase of notations about planting, transplanting, weather and harvest cycles. In 2012, I started writing notes in the little calendar almost every day. In March of this year, 2013, I outgrew the calendar lines and started using a blank journal book to keep track of the Heyokah Homestead happenings in more detail.
Actually, I use both of the journals together. The North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar, by Maria and Matthias Thun, informs me of the planting, transplanting, and harvesting cycles. I make notations in it every day about the morning temps, weather, and a couple of words about the garden. A classic, black and white marbled cardboard journal is used to record the broader experiences of the garden, including the how-to’s of certain garden tasks and results of other ones. I’ve learned to keep a pen in it and bring it with me whenever I go into the garden or greenhouse. I also write down stuff that pops up in my head when I’m doing contemplative gardening chores. The topics are garden-related and often esoteric like poems, mental observations, or ideas for gardening articles. I think I had the idea to write about garden journals a couple of months ago and ta-da, here’s the result.
I’ve come to agree with the folks who suggest keeping a garden journal, and in my opinion, the best place to start is with the North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar. It can be found and purchased for under $20 at SteinerBooks.org. Click the “Biodynamics” link on the left side of the page and when that menu pops up, slide over and click “Biodynamic Calendars”. Using one of these as a planting calendar and starter journal can connect you further into the earth’s cycles, your garden and into yourself. If you like to keep track of other garden and homestead details, then I suggest also getting a blank notebook and use both journals together. Have a great Solstice Season and Happy Gardening for 2014!
Leigh Mills has lived and gardened in the San Luis Valley since 2002 and written the “As the Worm Turns” column for almost 4 years. If you enjoy reading her monthly, visit her daily at The Infinite Bee website (theinfinitebee.com). View color photos and read journal entries filled with tips about high-altitude gardening and seed saving, food preservation, yummy recipes, and off-the-grid, homestead living.