It’s pretty widely acknowledged that a great habit for a gardener to keep is writing in a garden journal with records of plants, weather, pest management, fruit yield, and other details that are easily forgotten from year to year.
I started my journal in a spiral bound notebook with the date written in the margin and any notable events to the right. I also drew pictures of my garden bed shape and relative size so I have a map of where things are planted. Well, I was noticing that as I was doing things in the garden it was harder and harder to remember to write stuff down. I would finish something and move on to the next thing without writing any notes, and I have to admit that I’m somewhat notorious for starting journals and letting them sit for a couple years between entries.
I knew there had to be a better way, so I turned to the app store on my phone and found a free app that did just what I needed. My Plant Diary app lets me track everything related to my garden on my smartphone, which for me is a huge advantage over my handwritten journal.
Here are a few things I like about the app:
– I can add multiple diaries so each plant has it’s own section with individual entries for each plant. I can add new diaries at any point when I add new plants to my garden, so it grows as my garden grows.
– I never took my spiral bound plant journal with me anywhere, but I almost always have my phone so even if I forget to record something and remember it later I can add to the diary at any point. Uber convenient.
– In my handwritten journal everything was organized chronologically, but the app lets me see things by individual plants which is much more useful for me. In future years, I’m not going to care so much about what I was doing on February 4 as much as I’ll look at my “Tomato” diary and get an idea of when and how they grew.
– I love that I can take pictures of the actual plants and include them with each entry. This is an amazing feature that I’d have no way of replicating in a spiral bound book unless I took pictures and printed them.
– For each diary, you can view it on a calendar so instead of just looking at a list of dates you really get a visual of when things are happening in your garden.
There are a couple things that could really enhance the app including:
– Weather tracking. I made my own work around by adding “Weather” as a separate diary, and I enter the day’s low and high temperature in the spot reserved for the plant’s height and width. Then I can see on the graph for that diary how the temps are changing.
– I would also love if there was a way to actually export at least the diary info or send it via e-mail so it could be printed somehow. I know that sounds a bit counter to all the benefits I’m touting of keeping the info electronically, but let’s be honest, I won’t have this phone forever and being able to keep a printed copy in a folder somewhere would be a nice back up.
– What would put it over the top is if it had a task reminder system for each plant. That way I could future date tasks that I don’t want to forget about like, “Plant seedling outside,” “Time to fertilize.” Those sorts of things that I can plan out when I’m reviewing plant details without having to remember. I guess the work around for this would be a separate entry under each plant titled “Future tasks,” and I can list details there.
But when you start figuring out all sorts of work arounds because an app doesn’t do everything you want, you either need to make one yourself or find another one. For now, these are things I can live with to make my gardening life that much easier.
Any gardeners out there who have another recommendation for keeping track of your garden?