Country Kitchen: Keeping a Garden Journal

Country Kitchen: Keeping a Garden Journal

By Mary Emma Allen

Your garden often absorbs your spare moments throughout the summer as you tend the plants, watch the vegetables grow, and then harvest your rewards. Gardens also may have a place in our memories as we recall those of former years in various places.

So why not keep a gardening journal?

It can be a very simple affair or one with lengthy entries. It may be a place where you keep detailed records of your plants and harvest. A journal makes for interesting reading as you look back on the gardening experiences of your life.

Grandparents' Journals

As I read my grandmother's diaries and my grandfather's reminiscences, I notice interesting observations about gardening and the food they raised. My grandmother's were very brief and to the point, midst references to other everyday activities. My grandfather, a writer, gave long discourses about raising crops, gardening, and harvesting on their farm.

However, these observations, written many years ago, give me insight into their lives and feelings. Yours might serve you today but provide interesting information about your life for future generations.

Various Types of Journals

DATA JOURNAL - This may be a place where you note what you plant, when you plant, the types of seeds, how long they took to germinate, which type was better than another, how the weather affected them, which type of pest control worked best, and which plants yielded the best harvest.

This journal also helps you make decisions about what to plant the following season. It could be information you'll look back upon for several years, determining how you might change your gardening strategy to get better results. OBSERVATION JOURNAL - Here you might approach the gardening experience in a different way. You could note your observations about the day, your feelings, the weather, your reaction to various situations you encounter in your garden, along with some of the more technical aspects of gardening.

One gardener began noticing how differently she and her husband approached gardening but worked together to make it an enjoyable experience. She began writing a humor column about this.

FOOD PREPARATION JOURNAL - This might be a second part of your gardening journal or it could be a separate one entirely. Here you note the various ways you preserve and serve the food you've grown. You may develop unique recipes that you want to note here.

Once you begin thinking of garden journals, you may find it enjoyable to start one of your own...developing something that reflects your experiences. It doesn't have to be a literary affair. Just a few notes in a small pocket size notebook will suffice. Or you can use a journal with colorful cover and pictures throughout to match your creativity.

CAULIFLOWER-BROCCOLI SALAD fresh from the garden. Use 1 red onion sliced, 1 head cauliflower and 1 head of broccoli, broken into flowerets. Cook 1/2 pound bacon, drain well, and crumble. Layer the vegetables and bacon in a 13x9-inch dish.

Mix together one 4-oz. can Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon mustard. Spread on top of vegetables and bacon. (Use light or low fat cheese and mayonnaise if you want fewer calories and fat.)

Refrigerate overnight and mix together just before serving.

Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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