Some of the most influential people in society have kept a journal.
Whether it was a component in their success is difficult to say, but they saw the need to keep a journal as an important exercise in their lives.
Is journaling about writing?
There are bloggers who I immediately think of as writers. Whose use of language engages, inspires and enables me as the reader to not just read about their thoughts and musing, but to sense and experience their ideas and enjoy the images their use of words conjure up in my mind.
I write, but I struggle with the idea of myself as a writer. When I piece together my blog posts I see it as a functional outpouring. In part, it is an approach that enables me to clarify and cement my understanding of a topic. It’s also, I hope, a method that allows me to provide value to others – specifically those who grow their own fruit and vegetables and especially those who wish to try.
I have two main elements to my blog. One called ‘articles’ and the other ‘allotment diary’. Both provide me with the opportunity to record my activities and learning and also allow a cathartic release.
The important point is you don’t have to be or think of yourself as a writer to put down your thoughts on to paper. The process of journaling has an array of benefits and certainly as a record and a reflection of your experiences of keeping an allotment or kitchen garden.
Here are 5 reasons why keeping an allotment journal is hugely beneficial:
- You will be more organised.
Journals are not just a vessel for recording your feelings or scribbling out thoughts on deep and meaningful topics – although it’s a very useful aid for both. A journal is also a convenient tool to record your plans, to-do lists and varieties of veg. I’m hugely frustrated when I learn about an interesting vegetable variety and then forget what it was called. Stick it in the journal and pop a smug smile on your face as you order it online later that day.
- It serves as a reminder of accomplishments and mistakes.
Success with growing your own is largely about understanding what you have to work with. This includes the soil on your plot, the weather and climate for your particular area and the types of crops you choose to grow. Keeping a journal enables you to record very specific information on these matters and allows you to celebrate what worked successfully and consider those which didn’t turn out so well. It is a permanent record for you to utilise as you move from one growing season to another.
- You can track progress
Using a journal to track your progress against initial plans and ambitions for the gardening season is quite an obvious suggestion, but it’s very powerful. After a short time doing this you will see how you have done over weeks and months. If you keep a journal for a few years it’s a way of comparing progress on particular crops year on year too.
- You can collect everything
You can put anything in your journal. It isn’t just about words. My journal has sketches and allotment plans, mind-maps for blog posts, quotes I come across and articles and pictures I’ve cut out of magazines.
- It forces you to think through plans and ideas.
It’s easy to jump on ideas for the allotment – where a bed will go and where to plant each of our crops. Sometimes we act without thinking these ideas through and later learn it was a mistake.
The act of writing down our ideas and plans naturally helps us to think about them more critically because the mechanism of writing slows us down and enables us to pull together other matters before we implement the idea.
What to use as a journal?
How you choose to journal must work for you. You need a form that makes you feel comfortable – otherwise, it’s easy not to do it
Blogging – When I started this blog it was with the intention of it being a journal about my allotment garden. I still do this through the posts I write under the ‘allotment diary’ tab and I enjoy that I can add my photos to the content as well as links to other online content and articles that I find interesting or useful. If you feel this would be an approach you could use, go for it I say.
Remember, the very nature of blogging means you are placing your thoughts and ideas into a public space. This has been a positive and useful process for me as I enjoy that I am able to communicate my ideas with other gardeners and grow your own enthusiasts and learn from them too. The online gardening community is a very welcoming bunch!
Paper journal/Notebook – I carry a notebook with me everywhere. I find I have a fairly constant stream of ideas and plans for both the allotment and the blog. If I didn’t have a notepad on me I’d likely lose them forever. I don’t necessarily use all the ideas and scribbles I place in my journal, but I know they will always be there should I wish to go back to them at some point.
As much as I love writing on the blog, I always manually pen the posts out in my notepad first. Something in my brain happens differently when I put pen to paper. The pace and process of writing my thoughts and ideas out slow my thinking down and it presses the creative functioning buttons of my mind. It allows more thoughts to appear.
I particularly enjoy using a notepad with blank pages as it seems to allow me to express myself more freely than within a notepad with lines. However, if you really want to make this process extra special then take a look at the incredibly talented Zoe Naylor’s Etsy Shop.
Zoe has worked as a designer and illustrator for almost 20 years and thankfully for us has turned her skills and passion for gardening into creating stunning gardening prints, a garden vegetable notepad and an allotment journal.
Images courtesy of Zoe Naylor
Over to you. Do you keep an allotment or kitchen garden journal? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.