One of the most important things I’ve learned is how useful it is and how much more you learn by keeping good records of what you grow and how you grow it. Particularly if you want to save the seeds from your most beloved varieties.
I originally started this weblog as Mas du Diable when we lived in the mountains of Southern France. It was a way to organise my records of the garden and food growing activities and to share information, tips, ideas and techniques with other gardeners.
The irony is that starting a blog made me start a proper garden notebook going back to scratch. I took it seriously, buying a moleskine notebook no-less. It is a little bible of a book in which I have logged the sowing, transplanting and harvest dates for every thing I’ve grown since 2004 in chronological order. I started at the back of the book working from the first sowing at Mas du Diable in March 2004 and worked forward in time logging each month until I reached the date I started the book, sometime in 2006. It took ages going through old scraps of paper and notebooks (at least 10) to piece together the first years but it was worth it because the more years you build up the more useful the information becomes. I have carried on logging in the same way and noting key things about the garden and what is happening in it as I work. I am onto my second moleskin and I’ll keep going.
Now the beauty of this little book(s) is that I can, at the flick of a couple of pages, wherever I am, see exactly what I sowed on this day 3 years ago for example, or last year or look at what I sowed next month last year, what I was harvesting in the garden or when I pruned the fruit trees. At the front of the book I have a page or two for each vegetable type I grow, in alphabetical order, so that I can easily find the page to make notes about its cultivation; spacing, timing, feeds, growing pains, planting tricks, anything worth noting. In the middle is a page for each month and what should be sown in that month. All really simple but effective.
Sometimes I do wonder why I spend so much time posting stuff online when I have my trusty garden notebook at hand. Well a picture tells a thousand words as they say and I could never describe a new variety as well as a picture could. I love capturing the beauty of the vegetables I grow and the seasons as they change. But more importantly I want to be part of a community of gardeners growing food and posting about it on the internet. I learn loads from other garden bloggers and I hope they learn something from me.
Perhaps I am a Luddite at heart or perhaps I just don’t trust that wherever this website resides will always be there. So I think I’ll keep scribbling in my little Luddite bible and on this blog because each one helps the other and you never know which one will be there tomorrow.