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How to Set Up a Garden Planner Notebook

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This is the final post in the 10 part gardening series on What’s In My Garden. Last week we talked about Why I Love Gardening and You Should Too and in this post I’m so excited to share with you my 2021 garden planner notebook setup. This isn’t my first garden planner but it is the first one I’m sharing on the blog. Keeping a garden planner notebook has many benefits to both beginner and experienced gardeners’. Most importantly it keeps you organized!

Before we get started I’ve got to say I can’t believe this summer went by so quickly! I can already feel the chill in the early morning air and see the morning dew on the grass and gardens. Although I’m always extra happy when Fall arrives, I will miss this summer. It’s been a wonderful experience to be able to fully tend to my gardens and this precious time has also offered me so many new ideas for 2022! But for now, let’s dive into this setup.

There are many formats available to setup a garden planner notebook (disc, ring, spiral, bound, etc.). For my first garden planner (2020) I chose a classic Happy Planner and I paired it with a mini Happy Planner for journaling and memory keeping. I’ve always felt that a garden is an extension of the home and, for me, it’s also another way to Create a Beautiful Life by being creative in the garden.

Although I wasn’t necessarily looking to change my garden notebook, when I received the Tranquility planner kit from Cocoa Daisy, I felt it would pair perfectly with my mint Webster’s Pages A5 ring-bound cover. This kits theme was “grow” and it was full of luscious green papers and decorative planner items. I love the quote on the journaling card I used on the front dashboard, it reads “grow your own way”.

The only downside to using this cover for my 2021 garden journal is that I cannot easily transfer the guts to or between my preferred planner format. But, I had so much fun setting this up and getting it all organized. I do love the covers of the A5 planners, I just wish there were more deluxe cover color options for the Happy Planner (hint, hint).

Why Keep A Garden Journal?

The number one reason would be so you know what you planted where. This was exactly the reason why I started a garden journal. Each year I’d end up digging up something, by accident, and I never remembered what it was and if I wanted to keep it.

Other reasons to start a garden journal include celebrating your gardening successes as well as learning from the “fails” or challenges of gardening. I’ve always thought about, if/when we decided to sell our house, it would be nice to leave a notebook on the kitchen counter outlining everything the new home owner would want to know. I envision including information about the house such as, paint colors, what was renovated, what is in each of the gardens and an outline of the gardens.

Keeping a garden journal can also be a great tool whether you are planting a flower garden, vegetable container gardening or want to go big and landscape around your house with trees, bushes and all the flowers.

Garden Journal Sections

Each of the garden journals I’ve set up all have the same sections, unless I found through my experience that they were not needed. I’ve created the following sections, in this years garden journal and planner: Garden Schedule, Our Gardens, Monthly, Garden Ideas and Plans, Seeds, Garden Notes and then I also included a folder and a clear zip pocket.

Along side these tabs, I decided to use both the pen that came with the kit, as well as a beautiful light green pistachio Pengems crystal pen. Every good journal and planner needs a great looking pen, right?!

Let’s take a look at each of the tabbed sections in more detail.

01. Gardening Schedule and/or Harvest Log

This section is for recording bloom schedules, best planting and harvesting times, when to prune or move plants and bushes, even when to clean out birdhouses (I always forget this!). On the back of this section dashboard I adhered a decorative pocket to hold some journaling cards should I ever be inspired to record my day in the garden.

Although I don’t have one in this garden journal, you could also add a plant hardiness map. In my past garden journals I kept this resource at the back of the planner but it would make a great addition to this garden schedules section too.

02. Our Gardens

The pieces from this planner kit were spread throughout my garden journal and worked wonderfully. I love the sticky pockets and small raised alpha letters. The letters came in handy to create this “welcome to our garden” page.

If you follow my blog you know the first garden we planted was our butterfly garden. I’m so proud of that garden! Sadly, over the years, things have been moved around or as I said above, accidentally pulled out. So I utilized the sketching skills of my daughter to map out all our gardens so I could label the plants and bushes (which I still have to do).

I have not colored in the garden plans yet because I haven’t decided what I want to use (watercolor, colored pencils, etc). One thing I’ve considered is just leaving them in pencil since I do move things around; then I could easily correct the garden sketch plan if needed. Just something for me to consider.

03. Monthly

The monthly section is essentially my planner but it consists of only monthly calendars (no weeklies). On the opposite page (back side of the tabbed section dashboard) I created another pocket to hold planner stickers.

The monthly pages were from Jesenia Printables and they are simple and functional. I decorated the monthly cover page with some kit washi.

It’s been really nice having the habit tracker along the left side. As you can see I really slacked at weeding in May! There was room at the top to add a gardening goal and on each day I recorded the temperature each day.

Not all garden journals need a monthly section because most of your garden planning will be on the garden schedule. But if you wanted to track more than just planting schedules, these are the pages to do that on.

04. Garden Ideas and Plans

In this section I wanted to keep a record of the garden plans that we’ve either used or would like to incorporate into our yard.

There’s also some extra pages to sketch out my own garden ideas. The papers I used came with the Webster’s Pages planner and I just decorated it up a bit with washi and stickers.

05. Seeds

To use what I had in this planner, I turned the clear poly pocket page (which holds business cards) into a seed packet holder. I also had to fashion up the seed packets from scrap paper I had laying around. The theme worked perfectly, I think! I used the alpha sticker letters that came in the kit to label the front side “seeds”; and on the back side I wrote in the name of the seeds in the packet.

If you were planting a vegetable garden this is also the section you would maybe keep a list of the seeds you planted, where (if you have multiple beds) and the date you planted the seeds. You could also make a list of the seeds you want to plant (for me it’s sunflowers and pumpkins). There’s always room for a list or two! I left the list paper that came with the planner in this section for the purpose of recording this information.

06. Garden Notes

Another great quote greets me in this section on the tabbed dashboard.

“Serenity is the tranquil balance of heart and mind.”

Harold W. Becker

In here I could keep any garden notes I wanted to on either lined, blank, grid or dot grid paper. I simply kept the papers that came with the planner and they are lined. One of the pages holds photos of other gardens I’ve seen that I love. I find them inspiring to look at and if I really like a flower, I have a reference to take to the garden store to ask what the flower, tree or bush is.

This is also a great space for me to get creative and do a little art journaling to inspire my next garden project. I could use some scrapbook paper with pictures, quotes, colors -the possibilities are endless.

07. Folder

To expand on the idea above, I decided to create a three pocket decorative folder with the kit papers. Each pocket has fun details like a small brown glassine bag, a decorative tag and a stamped “field label” card. I want to say I used just about every piece of something in that kit to complete this decorative folder.

Keeping a folder is important because it will hold any ideas, scrap pieces of paper (with ideas on them!), small garden clippings and anything you want to keep safe.

08. Zippered Sleeve

The last detail in setting up a garden journal, at least in a ring-bound cover, is utilizing the clear poly zippered pouch to hold plant sticks.

That’s a complete run through of each section in my 2021 garden journal and planner. It was really something I looked forward to opening because not only was it pretty it was functional too. That’s how you know you’ve set up a journal and planner correctly -you actually use it!

Autumn begins in a week and although the cooler weather will be arriving that doesn’t mean gardening ends. As I type this post I’m already thinking about adding a small “autumn garden” section to list out what needs to be done in that season because you should always prepare your gardens for cooler weather.

Happy Gardening!

If you are inspired to create your own garden planner notebook don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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