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For the gardener, winter is a time for reflection on the past year’s successes, failures, and wished-for accomplishments. When thinking about things we did last year (or in previous years) in our yard or garden, our memory is often not the best record keeper.
The Smith County Master Gardeners, a master volunteer organization of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, have combined the best of 2 worlds – their annual Calendar and Garden Guide for Northeast Texas has been reformatted into a useful garden journal and planning guide designed to be used in day-to-day gardening activities. January is a perfect time to start a garden notebook where you can keep up with the entries throughout the year. In a journal you can record significant weather-related events, such as 1st and last freezes, dates of below normal freezing temperatures, daily rainfall, etc.
Make notes of when certain insects or diseases appear on your flowers, shrubs or vegetables, and what you did to try to control them. The articles and monthly tips in the 2014 Calendar, Garden Journal and Planning Guide for Northeast Texas Guide are written specifically for this region, serving as a handy reminder of things to do for both those new to gardening and long-time green-thumbers.
If you have a gardener on your list for gift-giving this season, the Master Gardener Calendar, Garden Journal and Planning Guide make great and easy gifts, and fit well into stockings. Last year I created and posted a few helpful garden journal printables, including a seed starting guide and a pest and disease log.
If you plan on doing square-foot gardening like I do, it’s helpful to have a map to lay out where you will be planting things ahead of time. Alternatively, I really like the Garden Planner on the Gardener’s Supply Company website.
If you’d like to use any of my updated Garden Journal printables just click the links below to get a printable PDF file of each sheet. Just a heads up, Tip Junkie can help you index your blog more effectively if you upload at least 2 images, 2 steps, and blog post URL into your Tip Junkie craft room!
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. It is also when we look forward to the return of the balmy days of spring, whose arrival always stirs up a renewed interest in the gardens that surrounds us. Exactly where did I plant that special variety of daffodils I bought at the bulb sale last year?
In it you can note what, when and where you plant, where they were purchased, how much spent, etc.
I like to remember and note the dates when different types of flowering plants bloom, and see how the dates vary from year to year. This will be helpful in following years as a reference to be ready in advance to deal with the potential return of the same pests. How about the 3rd president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who for almost 60 years kept a detailed daily journal of activities and milestones at his home and farm in Monticello. They are also available at Blue Moon Nursery, Noonday Hardware, Noonday Hardware in Chandler, Rubicon (Wild Birds and More), Joe Smith Farms in Jacksonville, and Pandora’s Box in Frankston.
If you’re going to start your plants from seeds indoors, this is the first thing you need to fill out.



There are lots of guides online for the best time to start different vegetable seeds, but I prefer to go by the directions on each individual seed packet.
You can customize the size of your square-foot garden layout and drag and drop different vegetables and plants into each square.
This pest and disease log has spaces to identify the issue you had with your plant, what method you tried to correct it, and whether or not it worked. Maybe my musings and these September Gardening Gleanings will inspire you to assess your own plot and re-establish its identity.
The first step is finding out when the last estimated date of frost is for your climate zone. Generally they will tell you to sow the seeds indoors x number of weeks before the last frost date. The best part is it automatically shows you how many of each type of plant can be planted in one square-foot.
This will be invaluable information if a few years down the road I have an identical issue and don’t quite remember what I used to treat it the first time. This is especially useful for vegetable and flower gardeners, but also helpful for those of you who try new perennials and shrubs or trees. I must confess that I have not been very good in this respect, but the new Master Gardener calendar and journal will make recording such notes much more likely.
A journal will be a great resource for the coming years when you need to refer back to previous year’s experiences, and learn from both your successes and mistakes.
Since we’ve already determined our last frost date, you can simply count backwards from that date to determine when to sow. For example, while you can only plant 1 tomato plant in a square foot, you could plant 4 bean plants or 16 carrots in the same space. As well as having a solid history of what I have planted and used, and what was successful.
Adding compost – and growing the types of flowers throughout the year to encourage beneficial insects and other creatures.
A gardening diary or notebook will help prevent you from making the same gardening mistakes year after year, and you’ll more accurately remember which of those two carrot or tomato varieties tasted or yielded best.
No doubt his journaling greatly contributed to his success at gardening and farming, for which he also is very well known. Contrary to all being good neighbours, some combinations are not so beneficial and should be avoided. I was privileged a few years ago to be part of a group of journalists who were invited to tour the 2-acre forest garden run by Martin Crawford, director of the Agroforestry Research Trust. This teaching space and trials site in Dartington (near Totnes in south Devon) offers courses to interested gardeners.Time for relaxed learningCamera and notebook in hand, I enjoy an Autumn visit to the National Trust’s Upton House, Oxfordshire, UKIs your brain already reeling? Gardens are at their autumnal best right now – I always advocate that you should take a notebook and camera with you for some in-depth study.
Close inspection along one of the terraced borders at Upton House, Oxfordshire, UK (National Trust)I am fascinated by the practice of allowing plants to self-seed, packing a punch with their jostling, their exultant joy at being alive and well.


By all means shake those foxgloves or poppies but remember that whilst you want dense planting, overcrowding will just cause weak and spindly specimens.
Good plants for experimentation are many herbs – such as cultivated arugula (rocket), perennial marjoram, echium, honesty (lunaria annua) for its early scented flowers and silvery dried seedpods.
You will of course know why if you read my second August post!A most useful little bookAnd whilst thinking about relaxed learning in this September Gardening Gleanings, how about this? A lovely little book, and only just published by Storey Publishing in their ‘Storey Basics – Books for Self-Reliance’ series.
There’s nothing intimidating about this title, with its easy to follow text and clear sketch illustrations showing you ‘how’. Although there are deadlines for ordering certain ‘live’ plants, it’s a good idea to partition your purchases into ‘must plant now’, ‘re-pot and hold’ over winter, or ‘create a holding bed’ for shrubs and trees if you are totally revamping your plot. I’ve never tried planting garlic in the autumn, which might account for what I had hoped would be an excellent crop in previous years. This year (as part of my autumn adventure), I rather fancy trialling the French-grown, softneck Germidour. Oh what joy it was to read in last month’s issue of the RHS magazine that the first phase of their ‘RHS Plants for Bugs’ project at the RHS Garden in Wisley is now complete. Staff are analysing the results of their study and hope to submit their first research paper in the New Year. Surely it goes without saying that wildlife is part of a very necessary ecological chain – pristine gardens invariably look dead, manicured, lacking in exuberance. The RHS reference to hoverflies, bee species and adult beetles including ladybirds seemed perfect to share in my September Gardening Gleanings.
I will go one stage further and urge readers to desist from cutting back and clearing plant growth unnecessarily. Seed-heads look beautiful in Autumn; even more so in Winter as they become bleached and contribute to an altogether softer landscape.
You may not be able to replicate what you most liked, for we are all dealing with living material and wayward weather patterns. And of course this post was about September Gardening Gleanings, and challenging adventures.
I know which mine will be, for my once so beautiful and productive acre is in sore need of some tender loving care. Gardens do not stand still but are continually needing thought and attention; not necessarily a complete ‘makeover’ (horrid word!) but possibly a drastic re-appraisal.



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