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Keeping a Mindful Garden Journal

I’m enchanted by my garden. I step into my backyard and into another world – a world beyond the chaos of managing a young family, a household, and a career. In the bright summer sunshine, I dig into my little plot of land and my mind clears. My senses engage in the smell of tomato plants, the feel of compost, the shape of a pepper plant leaf. I’m absorbed by these details that make up the pulse of my garden. The space charms me, lulling me into the peace that resides within it.

I’m keeping a journal of what happens in this little oasis of mine. Ultimately it will serve as a record of what I put into the ground, where I put it, and how it flourished (or did not). But it’s so much more; through the pages of my journal I strive to capture the essence of this captivating space. I sit underneath the shade of an orange tree and sketch what is growing… shiny, red clusters of Riesentraube cherry tomatoes; bursts of bright orange and yellow Pacific Beauty calendula; silvery-green leaves of fresh sage.

Later, I cut my drawings out and paste them into my journal. Over time, I add my notes. What’s written on the pages varies, and continues to evolve and expand. Early on, I wrote simply about plantings and yields. The pages on “lettuce” for my garden last fall include the date, type, and amount of each kind of seed planted, noting that I started them indoors under lights in September, followed by direct-sown seeds in November. Furthermore, the pages detail how many of each variety sprouted, notes on harvesting, bolted-by dates, and a reminder to plant in succession better next season.

I wrote about where and how I planted things as well. Next to a drawing of my bean teepee, where Purple Pole Beans and Green Super Marconi Beans climbed a handmade bamboo structure, I included instructions for constructing the teepee, along with notes on planting the beans and their growth.

As the growing season progressed, my journal began to dig a little deeper. I dedicated a couple of pages to “Nana’s Picks,” noting additions to my garden inspired by my mother. Those pages remind me of that season in both my garden, and my life – a time during which my parents lived in our home with us. My mother’s inspiration and direction enriched my garden from its inception, as it has enriched me since mine.

Before long, from-garden-to-kitchen type entries appeared on the pages of my journal too. “Hung upside down and dried for preservation” is written along with my notes on planting and growing herbs. A recipe for homemade marinara sauce accompanies a spread about tomatoes. Noted on these pages: I had thirteen tomato plants from last fall’s planting – many of which volunteered from my compost, including one on the bean teepee! (Would I ever remember that otherwise?)

My garden journal captures all the experiments I’ve tried… Growing cucumbers in a Topsy Turvey planter on the back deck, where “certainly the pickle worms won’t find them up in the air”! A raised bed dedicated to a Three Sisters style planting of corn, beans and squash. My attempt to train birdhouse gourds to grow up a Jacaranda tree in the front yard (final results TBD).

Glimpses into the life that permeates my garden have also emerged in my journal – our resident black snake earned a portrait and a few memorable entries. The butterfly garden and its inhabitants – from caterpillars to monarchs – are memorialized. Our garden pond full of tadpoles had a mention in the spring, evoking memories of my girls trying to “catch” the tadpoles, all hunched over on their knees in the dirt, squealing with delight upon finally grasping one. The Blue Jay and Cardinal families that visit the bird feeder (and peck at my just-ripe tomatoes if not picked in time!), the egrets and herons who stalk lizards on the bean vines, the squirrels who dig up my seeds and bury their acorns in my rich soil… they’re all in there.

I’m finding that keeping a garden journal is not only adding to my gardening success, it’s deeply enhancing my experience, allowing me to be more mindful, more connected, and more grateful for the beauty and magic that lies within my own small piece of land.

Tips for Keeping a Mindful Garden Journal

  • When writing notes in your garden journal, go beyond the basics of what you planted & where and the general performance of your plants. Include what or who inspired your plant choices, how you used and shared your harvests, memories of time spent in your garden, what creatures co-inhabit your space, how you would do something differently, or why you wouldn’t change a thing…
  • Include beautiful images, such as drawings, photos, seed catalog clippings, etc., in your journal. Choose something that captures your garden and your creativity! Imagery in a journal deepens your connection with what you are growing by allowing you to place your attention on all the details of a plant. You will come to know your garden in a new way, through the eyes of an artist.
  • Let your journal evolve over time; start simple and add more elements as you desire. Consider including: weather patterns and how they affected your plants; maintenance & care notes regarding watering, fertilizing, mulching, and treating pests and disease; light observations from season to season, and morning to evening; and successes as well as challenges.
  • Include a wish list for your garden in you journal; make a note of that potting bench you’re dreaming of, or the drip irrigation system that will change your life. Writing down these dreams and goals can help you manifest them. Clip pictures of gardens that inspire you and tuck them into an envelope affixed to one of your journal pages.
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Category: Nest

Liz Sniegocki

About Liz Sniegocki: Elizabeth Sniegocki is a writer and advocate of simple, mindful living. She makes her nest in Sarasota, Florida, where she writes, gardens, cooks, crafts and nurtures two sweet little chicks. Elizabeth blogs about natural living, mothering, homesteading and her community at A Natural Nester.

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