OLG Old Lady Gardener #35 Changing mediums – digital vs handwritten????

This happens every year as the physical garden season of one year ends and a new season begins. At the end of the season I work to record what happened in that year with plants, the weather and what changes I hope to make next year. There are charts, drawing and text that is needed. The desire to go back over this season and others for comparisons or even just names of plants I have forgotten for now comes into play. Here is where I get frustrated and go through this debate each year.

I currently handwrite in a graph paper notebook. It is a simple composition notebook with a plastic cover (purple to be exact) so I can take it into the garden with me. I have taped the binding to allow it to handle the wear and tear it gets during the summer season. It works well. I can make charts of what seeds I am planting in the spring under lights. I can date when plants go out in the garden beds. There is plenty of space for text so I can record what is happening, what I am thinking and what the weather is. One notebook generally covers one year. I enjoy the use of pen and pencil and the making of hand drawn charts or garden designs.


It all falls apart as I move into the next years planning phase. Searching for information through a pile of purple notebooks takes time. Often I can not find what I am looking for – what year do I look in, was that item planted in the spring months or the fall? I often need to make changes to the charts and so my handwritten one has crossed out numbers or names that make it look messy but more importantly hard to track the data.

So now as the new garden season is upon us what do I do? a computer journal or a handwritten journal?

A computer journal is:

  • easier to do – typing
  • easier to search
  • easier to update or add
  • can add photos of the current garden – with the right program
  • harder to make charts – need the right program
  • can’t really take it into the garden with dirt and water

Handwritten Notebook

  • enjoy writing by hand
  • easier to make charts and draw diagrams of the garden
  • harder to add photos
  • harder to make changes
  • harder to search
  • easy to take out into the garden to record information right away

So we are almost mid March and I did not answer this question again this year.

I was given a paper journal for Christmas from the kids and so just jumped right in and started using it. It is where my comfort level is. I know how do this paper journal. But when I go back over the list of pros and cons the Computer journal looks like it would really be the best idea.

My daughter and I did start several shared google docs to track seeds that we have and want to plant. I went ahead and created a chart in my paper journal of what we have now planted. I am jumping back and forth. Now I feel like I should make a google chart of what is planted and when it sprouted. I am back to seeking out a program or a way to make a computer journal work.

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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1 Response to OLG Old Lady Gardener #35 Changing mediums – digital vs handwritten????

  1. Natasha says:

    It does sound like a tough decision! Use a purple notebook to take into the garden and then transfer the information you might want to look up onto a computer document? I am impressed with all the note taking you do!

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