A Forgetful Gardener Makes Notes for Next Year

I’m a forgetful gardener. I always think I’ll remember next year what I put where, what varieties of tomatoes I loved, and what plant needed extra water. But I don’t.  

I’ve reached that glorious age where I forget where my glasses are (on top of my head) or where I left my hand pruners. (God knows.) 

As Dr. Seuss’ Grinch said, “I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore.” 

So this year – right now – I’m making more than mental notes and investing in a few doodads to make next year’s gardening a bit easier. 

I’ve started by breaking out my garden maps. These rough pencil sketches on graph paper tell me what I planted in each garden bed.  

I start out with grand intentions in the spring, but end up adding things willy-nilly that I forget – or am too busy – to write down.  

Now’s the time to catch up. So, I’m updating my maps and making notes because I know I won’t remember everything by the time spring rolls around.  

For further motivation, I’m starting a brand-spanking new garden journal to note what worked and what didn’t.  

A garden journal lets you note what worked and didn’t.  

What are some of my notes for 2023?

My two butternut squash plants made a grand total of – drumroll, please – two squash, so I will try yellow summer squash instead next year. I missed the peak crop of persimmons, so I’ll check them more often and earlier.

Heirloom yellow pear tomatoes produce gangbusters and are very tasty.  

I loved the taste of my yellow pear tomatoes and they produced gangbusters, so I’ll plant them again. My zinnias bloomed their heads off and are still attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, so they are must-haves.

pink zinnia flower
Colorful zinnias bloom for a long time and attract pollinators. 

My bee balm got powdery mildew, so I’ll be more careful to water at the base of the plants only. One pot of annuals was always thirsty, so I’ll move that pot elsewhere. 

Make your journal your wish list, too. Jot down anything you want to add next year. I want to try strawberries, add more native plants and groundcovers, and plant a tree for privacy.

I finally got the zinc plant labels from last year’s wish list and I love them. You can write on them with a pencil and they last and last and blend well. I won’t mark everything, just key plants that help me find everything else. 

Also note in your journal any tools that would help you such as a garden kneeler, self-watering container, ratcheting pruners, or lightweight wheelbarrow. Christmas is coming, after all.  

Your journal also can be your rip-and-replace list. I’ve already banished non-native vinca from one bed and am putting together a list of native replacements. What do you want to change? 

I hope these ideas inspire you to make some notes, start a journal, and label some plants so you can start off your next garden season with less head-scratching and more action.  

Now where did I lay down my trowel?  

By Annette Cormany, Principal Agent Associate and Master Gardener Coordinator, Washington County, University of Maryland Extension.

This article was previously published by Herald-Mail Media. Read more by Annette.

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