Free Gardening Journal Templates and Other Garden Record Keeping Tips
A gardening journal is a great way to track failure and success in the garden. Some folks like to keep a formal bound journal, but I find it handy to organize my notes in a big three ring binder.
I carry over some information from year to year, like my seed sowing schedule, plant spacing and seed longevity charts.
Other information I fill out annually, like my seed purchase log and planting and germination records. During the season I can take notes about the plants and growing conditions, and add pages to the binder as needed.
Free Gardening Journal Templates – Common Sense Home Garden Planning Kit
I’ve put together my gardening journal templates as a free “thank you” download for our subscribers. (You can use the form below to sign up.)
The templates are available as an MS Excel workbook and printable PDF. (There are also instructions on the download page for those who are using Macs or don’t have Excel, but would still like the version that they can edit.)
The Common Sense Home Garden Planning Kit Includes:
- Seed purchase log
- Planting and Germination record
- Seed Starting and Transplanting Calendar
- Customizable seed sowing schedule
- Seed longevity chart
- Seed germination rates after storage
- Plant spacing chart
You'll also get regular updates throughout the year with gardening and food preservation tips in our weekly newsletter, and the opportunity to share your ideas for upcoming gardening courses.
How to Use the Common Sense Home Garden Planning Kit
The Seed Longevity Chart shows how long garden seeds are likely to remain viable when stored in cool, dry conditions.
Your results may vary (I’ve had tomato seeds in storage for 10 years that were still good), but it’ll give you an idea if your leftover seed is still good.
The Seed Germination After Storage shows the expected percent germination of seeds after storage, along with best temperature for germination and days to germination. If you’d like to get an overview of these sheets, you can visit …
The Plant Spacing Chart shows the minimum distance between plants in a row and between rows.
There will be some variation depending on the plant varieties you choose (some plants grow intentionally smaller to make them better suited for container growing). The chart assumes garden beds that are 3-4 feet across.
The Seed Starting and Transplanting Calendar is for indoor seed sowing. The Customizable Seed Sowing Schedule is for outdoor seed sowing based on last and first frosts of the season. When you enter your frost dates, these calendars adjust to your area.
The Seed Purchase Log helps you track you seed orders, listing the variety, seed company, catalog number, purchase date, number of packets, price and seeds per packet.
Finally, the Planting and Germination Record includes:
- Date planted
- Number of cells/containers
- Number of seeds planted
- Year of seed packet
- Date of first seedlings
- Number of seedlings
- Date of full germination
- Number of seedlings total
- Transplant to garden date
I find this handy for monitoring older seed. If germination rates suddenly drop off or time to first seedling emerges increases noticeably, it’s probably time for new seed. (Or you can plant thickly to compensate and hope for the best.)
More Easy Garden Record Keeping Tips
In addition to the gardening journal pages listed above, I like label, bundle and draw to help track my garden progress.
When I’m working with seedlings inside, I use craft sticks to label the containers. They’re cheap, and easy to use. Each stick can be broken in half to mark two containers (when the plants are still tiny). When I'm dealing with larger transplants, I use the whole stick.
I keep my seeds in plastic shoe boxes, and bundle “like” seeds together. I grow over 100 different varieties of this and that, so I’ll just start working my way through a type of something, say carrots, in a block planting.
All my tomatoes, the melons or different types of root veggies get bundled together. Similar plants usually have similar needs, so I can grab a bundle and plant a bunch at one time.
I have a hand drawn diagram of my garden, and I label what was planted in each area from year to year.
This allows me to rotate crop families and plant heavy feeders in areas that have been more recently manured. (My neighbor brings over several loads of rotted manure each year, and that rotates through the garden along with the crops.)
The drawings go into my gardening journal (3 ring binder) so I can track crop rotations from year to year.
The drawings are not to scale (not even close). They simply allow me to track roughly where things were planted. Some examples from past gardens are shown below.
The more you work in your garden, the more you’ll get a feel for how much space you need and how much of a fruit or veggies you use.
There are plenty of resources that will tell you exactly how much to plant to get a certain amount of vegetables. Use them at your own risk.
After decades of gardening, it’s been my experience that the only guarantees you have for production are that it changes every year.
Concentrate on the Garden Information that’s Most Useful to You
If you want to get super organized, you can get out your graph paper and the plant spacing chart and closely map your beds before planting.
(The book Square Foot Gardening is a good resource for intensive planting. It's a well written book, but not for me. I'm more of a wild woman in the garden.)
I fill out my spreadsheets, scratch some notes in my garden binder, and take photos of the garden at regular intervals. One year I put together a slide show of the central garden wheel through the season, which was pretty cool.
What if volunteer plants show up in the garden? Some of them are allowed to survive, provided I don’t need the space for another crop. (I like food that plants itself.)
What about weeds? Some of those are allowed to survive, too, especially those that are edible and/or medicinal. This includes a lot more weeds than you might realize. (You can check out the Weekly Weeder series to find out more.)
Anything you can do to make garden record keeping easier will make it more likely to happen. Don’t stress over your gardening journal details so much that you forget to enjoy your garden. That’s one of the best parts.
I'd love to hear how you keep track of things in your garden, and what questions I can answer in Common Sense Gardening posts and classes.
Leave a comment and share your thoughts, and don’t forget to share the link with your gardening friends.
You may also enjoy:
- Starting Seeds Indoors – 11 Steps to Help You Plant Seeds with Confidence
- 10 Heirloom Seed Companies You Don't Want to Miss
- How to Use Companion Planting in the Garden
- Grow Tomatoes from Seed – Save Money, Get More Varieties
Originally published in 2012, updated in 2018.
I have a notebook that I use. It’s a spiral notebook. I don’t keep as detailed a record as you, but I track the dates seeds are planted and map out my garden area prior to planting.
Wow, this is an EXCELLENT post! Thank you for sharing your method for keeping records of your garden. I’ve printed it out and will be chewing on all the info you shared over the next few weeks so I can nail down my own record keeping.
Anyway, thanks again. Oh—and I put the companion book on my wish list. Weeee! Love new gardening books!
This is a valuable lesson, thanks. I’m not a square foot gardener either. I plant as diverse a polyculture as I can. But I do have a bunch of photocopies of my garden to keep track of where things go each year, and I certainly rotate.
I am using Evernote this year to track everything. I can add text, photos, and pdf files of all my garden info. Plus I can edit and view from both my iPhone and iPad right from the garden.
Sounds neat. I do not yet have an Iphone or an Ipad, so no apps for me just yet.
Evernote works on Androids and laptops running Windows.
I didn’t have either of those back in 2012. 🙂
Loved your information. I printed off your seed starting chart. I do keep a journal about every third year. I sometimes staert one and then get too busy to keep it up, but about every third year I do get it done and I really do love going back through them in the winter when I am planning next years garden. I just want a little better way to keep track of what, where, when and how it turned out.
I realized today that I forgot to fill in a couple areas on my garden chart earlier in the season. I feel like I’m lost. 🙁
Have been wishing for posts like this one. I am the world’s most unorganized person in the world,for real.So thank you & ur readers for the suggestions. Would it be too time consuming for u to get little garden growing tips along the way? Like u mentioned “the heavy feeders”. Which plants are they & what do u feed them or a 3 season crop or those that need mulching,those that are a Big No No to plant together? I prolly own 75% of garden books known to mankind but having so many has been a detriment rather than a liability….they make me feel overwhelmed. Last year I didn’t bother putting out a garden.
I do have some gardening posts on the site, but as you have found out, there’s a lot to learn. As we get back closer to gardening season, I’ll be adding more posts, but you can check out those that are already on the site here: https://commonsensehome.com/gardening/
Every garden location and every gardener are a little different, so there is no “one size fits all” solution. You have to figure out a system that works for you. If you tell me a little bit about where you’re located and what type of ground, space and climate you have to work with and what you would like to grow, I could offer some more specific suggestions.
Thank you Laurie. I live in SE. part of Missouri.Our summers are turning out to be “hot as _ _ _ _ ” anymore,so lots of (LOTS) weeds & dusty dry soil,clay type I believe. We have a quarter acre to devote to a garden if we wanted to. Tomatoes,peas,beans,potatoes,corn,peppers,cukes and squash would be lovely. 4 things i absolutely cannot grow,even a little bit of; strawberries,onions,dill & carrots.
.Love to can & raise animals for enjoyment & as a food source. I like organic everything. I have purchased or prodded my husband into buying a small tiller,a large tiller & finally a small JD tractor so I can implement all these huge “gardens in the sky” plans,haha. No matter what the chore,if I buy the piece of equipment, the chore is done…I can dismiss that project & move on to something else.Really expensive & not funny.I have boxes & boxes (not packets) of seeds.What to do with all of them?
Short answer – dig dirt, stick seeds in, see what grows and what doesn’t, repeat as necessary, adjusting as you go.
Better short answer – Find neighbor with awesome garden. Become their new best friend. Most successful gardeners love bragging about how they work their magic.
Tomatoes, peppers, cukes, corn, squash are all “heavy feeders”. They like nice, rich soil, but too much nitrogen (often too much manure) will give you too much leaf and not enough fruit.
Potatoes are moderate feeders, and are good for breaking new ground.
Beans and peas are legumes, and will actually add nitrogen to the soil, enriching it for other crops.
Onions and most herbs are light feeders, but do better in richer ground.
Carrots struggle in clay/heavy ground and will often grow forked or stubby roots in response.
Strawberries require more than one season to produce a good crop, so I probably wouldn’t start with them until you’ve worked your ground for a while.
Tractor is probably overkill for 1/4 acre. We’ve got around an acre, and managed for years with a small tiller and hand digging. Upgraded recently to a larger rear tine tiller, but it is only used once a season.
If your soil is lousy and you regularly deal with drought, you may want to consider lasagna gardening to build up layers on top of the soil, or at the very least plenty of mulching. This will keep your clay from compacting and protect the soil ecosystem, encouraging worms, pill bugs and other little dirt movers to occupy the area and work the mulch into the soil.
As for the seeds, check out this post – https://commonsensehome.com/my-favorite-seeds-sources-seed-storage-and-germination/
Lasagna gardening = building “lasagna” layers of materials on top of your desired planting area to build up the soil. It’s like sheet composting directly in the garden. A typical “lasagna bed” is built up in fall – sometimes in a frame, sometimes in a pile – with layers of compostable material. It rots down over winter and in spring you plant directly in the pile, or add a little dirt on top of the pile if it’s not completely broken down, plant in the dirt, and let the pile continue to compost in place.
Absolutely love this blog!! Thank you…can’t wait to get started… X
Hi Annie. Glad you’re enjoying your visit.
I’m setting up our new garden using the Garden Crop Rotation system. I have started kohlrabi but can’t figure out what family it falls under (Legume, Root, Fruit or Leaf). Yikes, I’m trying to set this new garden up correctly so next year I can look at my garden notes and know where to rotate each crop for the next year. I’m STUMPED! This is all new to me. Can you help me, PLEASE?
Please email me to let me know. I sure would appreciate your advice or suggestions.
Happy Day To You – Bobbie
I usually keep kohlrabi in with the root veggies, because it has a more similar growth habit, even though botanically it’s in the brassica family with cabbage and broccoli. If you have space in one and not the other, it could shift. The “rules” are more like serving suggestions. It’s best to experiment and see what works well in your garden.
Thank you for sharing all this great info. I was,sick for a few years and my stash of seeds are outdated. Every app I find to track are too detailed fussy etc. I love your simple chart. I have to garden in containers and was already mixing up my notes! I especially wanted to track heirloom and see if I have any success hares ting and replanting seeds. I’m going to try lasagna in front yard (After years of nuturing California clay into viable soil, a ‘landscaper’ scraped down to hardpan and absconded with the soil.) Any suggestions to hurry process are greatly appreciated. Realistically, though, I think I may have to truck in as I can afford and do some small raised beds. I’ll be visiting more often as there is a lot to absorb here ????
Oh no! Soil thieves!
I’d build up layers with whatever you have that will rot, and top them off with some decent topsoil/compost/potting soil. Plant into the top, and let everything sheet compost in place.
i need a good horticultural garden yield recording system. any template available?
Not here, sorry.
Goodness this is wonderful! You are so thorough and detailed. I also sketch out my garden and I love the idea of a garden wheel! I may try to put one in. We have a kitchen garden right off our back deck that I sketch out. I’m so thankful I found this great resource. Thank you for doing so much work!
How do you feel about tilling? We are no-till gardeners, but so many people have success with it. We normally just mulch heavily making the soil really easy to dig in. Just wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks again!
We do minimal tilling, generally only once in spring where we still use it. Most of the time we hand dig now, or pull back mulch and plant. We do mulch quite a bit, but too much mulch and the garden soil stays too cold too long in spring.
It’s very thoughtful of you to share these journal templates. They’re really helpful for my garden projects soon. 🙂 Thanks!
I can’t seem to download your free
Garden templates for a garden journal. I don’t have excell. My phone is an Iphone 6. can you please send me instructions for how to download these. i like the idea os being able to customize them. Thanks for your help.
Pat, I’m waiting on my flight right now on my way back to Green Bay and answering comments on my phone. I’ll be home tomorrow and we can see if we can figure out a way for you to access the files. I think you need to download to a desktop or laptop, not a phone. Once you get them on a computer, you can use Google Sheets to open the spreadsheet.
Hi Laurie, I loved your presentation on the Home Medicine Summit on Tomatoes! What valuable information you shared!!! I just looked for the Mycorrhizal powder on amazon and there are many choices with varying size packages, maybe different compositions and various price points. How much would I need for about 6 tomato plants? Would it be helpful for peppers and other veggies? How long is the shelf life? Do you have a particular one you use?
Thank you so much for your expertise you share and for answering my questions.
Be well, Simone Heurich
We’ve tried several different types of mycorrhizal fungi, all with good results. Almost all garden plants will form relationships with the fungi, including peppers and other veggies.
Root Naturally Endo Mycorrhizae – 4 ounce container would be handy for a small garden.
Their application guidelines are as follows:
Small Transplants or Cuttings: ½ teaspoon under the plants roots when planting.
Potted Plants/Soil Mixes: Use 1-2 tablespoons per 1 gallon of soil.
Turf: Apply ¼-½ pounds per 1000 square feet during installation or aeration.
We’ve used this brand, and it’s very easy to apply because it comes in granular form instead of powder. (If you have bare root trees, powder works nicely for dipping the roots.)
Glad you enjoyed the presentation.
I have used these sheets for several years and love them.
I had them saved on my computer, but had to get a new one.
I do not see where to download.
Are they still available for download? Thank you for your effort!
Thank you for reaching out, Julie. I just switched over to a new email service last week, and it looks like the sign up form was malfunctioning. That should be fixed now. Join the newsletter sign up, and you’ll be redirected to the free download page with the planner and other helpful guides.
Pardon my ignorance but I can’t seem to find a download link for the Gardening journal?
Can you see the subscription form? The gardening journal forms are a free download for subscribers. If you decide you don’t care to stay subscribed, you can unsubscribe at any time.
August 8, 2021
Good morning! I signed up for your email subscription but wasn’t redirected for the free garden journal download. Laureen
I emailed you directly, and you should be getting a welcome email series that also has the link.