I’m not very good at keeping garden records; however, I’m going to do a better job this year. I know it’s important to keep records to evaluate what varieties and techniques work the best; and I really want to start using varieties and processes that produce the best taste and yield, in the fastest – most efficient manner possible.
So this year, I started an Excel garden planting log, where I’m going to record all the pertinent information on what gets planted, where it’s started, how long it takes to germinate, etc. Here’s what gets recorded and why:
Crop & Variety
Need to know not only the crop but the specific variety to evaluate which yield, taste, and perform the best. The only way to do this reliably is to track all the crops from year-to-year.
This is to record when seeds were started indoors or in the garden and it’s used to estimate when harvest will occur, as well as how long each variety takes to yield. It’s also important in determining how early spring planting can be done next year.
Soil Block Size/Spacing Used
This is to record what size soil block seeds were started in or what plant spacing was used in the garden. This column is repeated in the log to accommodate transplanting mini-soil blocks into larger soil blocks, and transplanting into the garden. This information is used to evaluate what the best method and spacing is for starting, transplanting, and growing each crop.
This is to record the number of seeds/plants that are being started or transplanted. This information is used to determine which varieties germinate and transplant best, and eventually which varieties provide the greatest yield.
This is to record the date that the seeds germinate. The “days to maturity” given on seed packets do not usually include the span from seeding date to germination date; so this information is useful in determining the true span from planting to harvesting.
This is to record the date that seedlings are transplanted into larger soil blocks or into the garden. This column is repeated in the log to accommodate transplanting from smaller to larger soil blocks, and into the garden.
Days to Maturity
This is for the “days-to-maturity” information from the seed packet. This information is used to estimate the harvest date.
Initial Harvest Date Estimate
This is to record the day when harvest is estimated to begin based on the germination date plus the “days-to-maturity” from the seed packet. This information is also helpful in planning when additional garden space will be available for new plantings.
Actual Initial Harvest Date
This is to record when harvest actually began, and is useful in planning the actual dates for starting seedlings in subsequent years.
Below is a picture of the initial Excel log, and it can be downloaded here for use as a starter template. The other log that I need to develop is a harvest log – this would track the amount of each variety harvested and the time span over which the harvest occurred (but that’s a project for a later date). After several years of recording information like this, it should be much easier to choose the best varieties and techniques.