High on the Winter To-Do List? Gardening Recordkeeping

One way to keep track of your plants.

Posted by Susan Harris
This is, as all gardeners know, THE time to get our recordkeeping in order for the prior season, and maybe get our system set up for the next.   First because we’re bored and going nuts with cabin fever and secondly, because some of us consider ourselves far too busy to take care of this task while the ground is diggable.  Priorities, ya know.

The System
Now you may all have better and far fancier systems than mine but mine has a chance of working for the always-in-a-hurry among us (yours truly being the test case for that theory).

The centerpiece of my “garden records,” such as they are, is a cheap 3-ring binder that holds one page for every plant still living in my garden, like the page you see here for Tiarella.  Notice that this is where my plant tags end up?  But not right away.  They spend the better part of their first year in my house all stuffed into one manilla envelope with the year written on the outside.  I cram, cram, cram those plant labels til there ARE no more labels for the year.  Only then they go in the red binder on their very own page, along with: Where I bought the plant, when I bought the plant, and what I paid for it.   There’s a tab for annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, and the plants in each section are in more or less alphabetical order.  Pretty crude but easy-peasy.

Now let’s move on to the uses of the red binder in question.  Picture me, if you will, showing people around my garden.  They ask about a plant and I can tell them exactly what it is – visitors love it when gardeners can do that!  When someone asks how fast a plant grows I can tell them oh, I bought it in 2007, so there you see three years of growth.  Same goes for where I bought it and whether the nursery thinks it’s drought-tolerant or not.  Nifty information to have at your fingertips.  Or if I want one more of something, I can buy one more of the same plant because I actually know what it is.   It’s all there in THE BOOK.

Now at the risk of seeming a tad compulsive, maybe a Myers-Briggs type J (guilty as charged),  I’ll mention in passing that I also have binders for bulbs, for plans, and for miscellaneous gardening information.  But honestly, I know plenty of gardeners with more elaborate (and far better looking) systems than mine.   Just recently, though, a magazine editor revealed his here on the Sunset blog and wow, it kinda looks like my own.

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