Here’s a quick way to keep seed starting records

New seed starting journal and map of garden from last year.

New seed starting journal and map of garden from last year.

When starting seeds each year do you have to rack your brain to remember how many tomato seeds of each variety you planted last year?  Do you dig through the basement or closet trying to find the old seed packet from that great variety you liked last year but can’t remember the name of?

There are a lot of things to keep track of in the garden (and in life!) each year.  In fact, there are far too many details and notes to try to store them all in your head from year to year.  No matter which category of gardener you place yourself in – the wing- it, fly by the seat of her pants or the obsessively organized and always prepared – record keeping can make your garden life a lot easier.  Your records can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like.  I fall between the two categories of gardeners above – I like to keep records, but sometimes my record book is dirt stained, a little waterlogged, and has some pages falling out of it.  But, what matters most is that I am keeping records.  An informed gardener is a better gardener because you can avoid your mistakes from year to year and build upon your successes over the long term.

Record keeping in seed starting makes the process go a lot more smoothly.  Each year when seed starting begins again I think, “Okay, how many tomato seeds should I start this year?”  I consult my records from the last year or two and review the numbers.  I try to remember back to last May. Did I have enough seedlings or too many?  Do I want to have more to give away to neighbors and friends?  Do I want to increase the numbers of one or two varieties? Based on my answers to those questions I will tweak the number or just repeat last year’s amount.  I also like to use my records to consult the dates.  When did I start my second planting of broccoli?  How many times did I start basil?  I have a seed starting calendar that I follow, but we all know that calendars put forth what would happen in an ideal world.  My own record is what I like to call reality – what actually happened last year between the rough and tumble of daily life.  My calendar lists the onion starting date as February 27, but last year I didn’t start them until March 8 and they were fine.  We had a great crop of onions.  That reference will make me feel better this year when I am starting onions past the listed date again.

In order to encourage you to start keeping records this season, I am sharing with you a downloadable document that is simple and easy to use.  Use my gift as the prompt you need to start the gardening season off right.  Commandeer an old three ring binder that is lying around your house, print out this Seed Starting Journal, punch some holes in it, and let it serve as the first page in your new Garden Journal.  And then don’t forget to use it in the coming weeks when starting seeds!

What methods do you use to successfully keep records for your garden?  Share with your fellow gardeners in the comments below.

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