Keeping a garden diary

At this time of year there’s a  lot of work going on at the BBA garden with the preparation of our raised beds for seed sowing and planting out. There’s a good deal of heavy lifting , earth  moving and sweating involved and at times the task list looks to be a daunting prospect. Yet each year we’re amazed by how much can be achieved through the combined efforts of our team of volunteers.

Spring 2021

BBA has had its community garden on Clapham Common’s Windmill Drive since 2015. Each year brings novelty crops, but many of our beds are planted out with the staple food crops that remain popular for season after season and are well suited to our growing conditions. Having been on this site for so long, there’s a wealth of information that could be harvested along with our regular crops; such as the what was planted where, what grew well, what didn’t, whether there were particular pest issues and so on. However, one of the challenges of a community garden, where the work is shared between a large number of volunteers, is in keeping an accessible record of these events that we can refer back to in future years.

April 2018

So to address this, we’ve set up a garden diary which can be used to record anything of interest as we go through the growing season.  When thinking about setting this up, it was clear that we’d need some sort of map of the garden that we could refer to, so we went about making a plot plan view and numbered our beds… we found we have no less than 50 unique growing spaces!

BBA’s 50 Beds!

Other than the location plan, it’s important to keep a diary as simple as possible. Adding information, notes and comments should be uncomplicated; which will encourage the garden users to make frequent contributions, ideally  as they see something of interest. We’ve set up a simple table, accessible to a small team in a shared file, so that notes can be put directly into the table. The table shows what there is in any one bed in any one month and also has a space for updates or notes. Here’s a snippet of it…

Planting plan so far this year

So we can see here that the beetroot, peas and chard we’ve planted have started to germinate, our onions are doing nicely, Bed 007 is under cover but unlucky Bed 13 is plagued with black aphids. We’ll add notes over the coming weeks and then do a full update quarterly.

Unlucky 13 – blackfly!

So now with our plot plan and diary, we can set about making a record of our crop locations, our successes and our failures (yes, we have a few) and learn from our collective experience. For example, the crop location record will help us to plan suitable crop rotation from season to season, where possible and when space/time allows. More about that another time.

Happy gardening!

Written by Andrew Besso

Our community garden is a wonderful place to learn and share gardening skills as well as meet and make friends. For more information about taking part at Bandstand Beds click on this link to our website, email or stop by our produce table on Saturdays between 10am and midday to chat to one of our members.