Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

A garden journal: Priceless gift to your future self

Garden journals from 1996-2000, left, and 2001-08, right, with a lot of blank pages in it still. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Record garden work and weather for reference

When I finally got back to my community garden plot this week, it might as well have been a lunar landscape.  It didn't look familiar at all, even though I've been working this 20-by-22-foot piece of ground every year since 2005.

OK, I did recognize the compost bins, and the bee-filled lavender in the corner, but the rest of it seemed strange. Did I really cut down the Iceberg rose that much? Why is so much of the middle part of the plot uncovered (and full of weeds)?

And what's that well-rooted mass of leaves? I was ready to get a shovel out of the tool shed and dig it up. But while pulling some of the worst of the weeds, I finally recalled: Oh, gee, that's the gorgeous perennial that I got so many compliments on last year. Eeek! To think I almost pulled it out. Now if only I could remember the name ...

This temporary garden amnesia likely was caused by the intensity of the winter holiday period, exacerbated by the overwhelming effect of the coronavirus news cycle and shelter-in-place order. But I realized that the "cure" for this would have been a better record of the garden last year. A quick look over entries would have told me what I'd planted, how much time I had to cover the plot -- obviously not much -- and when exactly I pruned the Iceberg.

My younger gardening self would be scolding me now, because I used to keep good records. I have journals started in 1996, when we moved to the Sacramento area, and another in 2001, the first year in our current house. The latter one tails off in 2008 -- a very busy year for my family. In more recent years, I've kept track of weather and planting dates on my UCCE Master Gardener Gardening Guide and Calendar, a great resource, but there's no room for entries like this one from May 2002:

"Weird month for weather -- chilly overnight the first part of the month, then nice and getting up to 92 degrees on May 16. Rain came May 19, turning into a ferocious hailstorm May 20 -- shredded a lot of leaves and filled container plants with ice. (See photo.)"

Photographic evidence that we can get hail in May. From 2002.
And yes, there's a photo tucked into the book. See at right. What looks like rock salt is hail. In mid-May. Take that as a warning, folks.

So I'm going to try to go back to writing, on paper, what's happening in my garden. An online journal would be OK, too, but I do like looking back at the entries, in my own handwriting, and the little note and clippings I tucked in -- even recipes. And the notes on the roses I planted will help me relabel my current collection, which is anonymous since the hot weather blighted my on-site labels.

The photos are great, too. The oldest of those I saved shows my first garden, at our house in Fullerton, with our first cat, Max, sitting right in the middle. Both Max and the plants are very young.  And so was I then, making all the mistakes of new gardeners.

Keep a garden journal. You'll be glad you did.


0 comments have been posted.

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Local News

Ad for California Local

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

Contact Us

Send us a gardening question, a post suggestion or information about an upcoming event.