It’s fun to get your kids involved in your family garden. Let them help plan the garden layout, pick out plants together and team up to do the messy-fun work of planting and weeding. Or you might set aside a special area or a couple of plant pots, just for them. Then, ask them to help document the unfolding of the season, the progression from seed to harvest. Use cameras, iPhones, hand drawn art or whatever might best inspire them to help create a garden journal. To help your kids create their own journal, get some nice plain paper or card stock-- 8 x8 is a great size to work with -- then invite them to experiment. Ask them to draw and color pictures of the plants then use their pictures as backgrounds for notes and photographs. Let your kids create artwork, draw maps, take pictures or write notes, then sit down together and create a collage from the pieces they have created to document your garden. The collage method gives your kids the freedom to mess up and not ruin their entire piece. Cut out the keeper parts of your child’s work, paste them on your good page and toss the rest away. You’ll end up with a great looking page created entirely by your child. If you plan to bind the journal, make sure to leave 1/2 inch of space on the left side of each page for binding.
Coil bindings are great for kids’ journals because they look less formal. If using card stock, and working with my collage method, 15 pages would be about the maximum for a coil binding, 10 or less for a hardbound book.
Whatever you do, let it be fun and keep it simple. Before you finish up your kids’ journal, you may want to scan some of their pages and use them in your own journal, one that relies more on software and computer design.
To find options for creating garden journals, type “garden journals” in to a search engine
like Google. You may be surprised to find that a program you already own includes one. For
instance, Apple's Numbers offers a gardening journal in its template chooser. Each of the three
pre-formatted pages includes sample entries to get you started and each allows you to insert your
own digital images. The weather page helps track temperatures and rainfall, along with other
weather observations. Another page is formatted for noting what you planted, when, where and
how. Design and add your own pages as you want, customizing the types of information you
want to capture.
A good place to start in journaling is to draw a map of your garden, noting what was planted where and when. Then, over the course of the season sit down to write your experience, including thoughts and suggestions for next year. Document your garden from your purchase of seeds through harvest and food storage both in writing and in images. Here are some ideas for what you may want to include: photograph groupings of seed packets to remember what you purchased and planted; note flowering and harvest dates; record challenges your garden faced from disease and pests and weather. Capture images of creatures that thrive in your garden, including your cat curled up under the peonies.
Then, jot down practical reminders like when to fertilize and with what. Record dates for things like when you did the last deep watering of your deciduous trees before Fall settled in. Add recipes you discovered and used for fresh produce, or recipes you created. Note both what you liked and didn't like.
Your journal and images become resources for a great winter project: a Garden Retrospect Photobook packed full with practical insights for next year and good memories to enjoy for years to come.
This article was written with the expert assistance of Aloha Williams, Photo Organizing
consultant at F-11 Photographic Supplies in Bozeman.