Monday, January 26, 2009

How to Keep Track of What Plants You Have Bought, Where They are Going, and What You Still Need to Buy: The Garden Planning Binder

This month's Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild is on Labeling and Record Keeping. Like many of the other bloggers, I have tried many different methods of labeling and record keeping with varying degrees of success over the years. For example, I tried the wooden and metal markers, but I didn't like how they looked in the garden, so I no longer use them. In recent years, I have settled on three means of record keeping: the Garden Journal, the Garden Planning Binder, and the photographs of my garden.
In terms of the Garden Journal, I wrote a separate post about it last year that I won't repeat in full here: "I find the garden journal is an invaluable tool to help me keep track of my garden and plan for the future. I started keeping a garden journal about six years ago. Before then, I would keep notes at random on successes, failures, and sources of inspiration. These I would easily misplace and forget about."
I used to try to keep track of absolutely everything in my Garden Journal, but one aspect of my record keeping kept slipping through the cracks: what plants I had ordered, where I planned to plant them, and what I still needed to buy. I would print out my online orders and put them in a file folder to read alongside my Garden Journal, but it was just too disorganized. Boxes of plants that I had ordered in the fall and winter would arrive on my doorstep in the spring and I would forget why I had ordered such and such a plant and/or where I planned to plant it. Sometimes I would remember the space I was trying to fill, but other times I would not and need to find a home for it. At some point later in the season, the intended space would present itself and I'd remember what I had planned to plant there, causing me to move the plant or change the plan.
My Garden Journal needed a friend. Thus, the Garden Planning Binder was born. I bought a large three-ring binder and anytime I ordered anything--trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials, annuals--I would print out the order form, write down where I planned to plant it, punch holes in it, and put it in the binder. This works on purchases for my containers, as well as my beds. Also, by keeping all of the receipts together, I am better able to keep track of my budget. Now, when the boxes arrive in the spring, I just find the matching order in the Garden Planning Binder and immediately plant the plants where they are supposed to go.


One unrelated note about labeling dahlia tubers. If you over-winter dahlia tubers, here is one specific record-keeping suggestion: write the name of the dahlia on the actual tuber with a black Sharpie marker. I used to keep them in paper bags with the name of the dahlia on the bag, but I found that the paper bag disintegrated by the next spring.


Hocking Hills Gardener said...

That's what I need, a three ringed binder with plastic sleeves!I have all of my lists, receipts, plans,log sheets, charts,packets, etc thrown in a plastic bag. This is just not good because I am always rummaging through it for something. :)

Doctor Mom said...

Great ideas for this slow-running mind!

VW said...

Last year I started a garden 'scrapbook' with 4x6 cards including plant info and a cut and pasted picture. I'm not usually a scrapbooker and am years behind on my children's photo albums. Maybe this project won't last long, though it has been very useful so far. Thanks for your suggestions - VW

Nan Ondra said...

A solution that organizes the receipts *and* helps you keep track of what's planted where - awesome! This is great, HG; thanks.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

Another great idea! I've been keeping receipts in one location and random notes about the orders in another — and neither in the garden journal. The same thing happens to me — can't remember the plan by the time the order arrives.

muebles jaen said...

Really effective information, much thanks for the article.

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