Don’t Forget to Harvest Wisdom


The blogger’s current garden notebook.  It’s actually a 2016 calendar which I got cheap by buying it in February.  I can make entries on particular dates, which is good for noting things like plantings and the weather, and I can write long, rhapsodic reflections on the lined pages in the back.


While you’re saucing tomatoes, pickling beans, doing whatever you do with all that squash, and enjoying the last lettuce, there’s yet another thing to be harvested from the garden in the fall: your wisdom.  When the garden is still in its September and October glory, it’s the right time to wander around with a notebook (date the page, please) and record your impressions on how things grew.  In fact write down everything you think is relevant to the success or failure of the garden.  Did you trellis the peas earlier than ever this year and thus experience greater productivity ?  Put that down.  Did you put your own compost out a bit under-finished and then see a direct seeding of mustard greens never sprout?  Put that down.  Did the lettuces do fine with half as much water as you gave them last year?  Put it down.  Did the tomato starts that crazy old guy up the street sells go gangbusters?  Write that down.  Did you get excited about a new compost tea and then become horrified when you realized it went anaerobic, spilled on you, and no amount of soap would remove the last vestige of the awful scent?  Hey, that’s really worth writing down!

The great thing about going around with pen and paper for a few minutes during various parts of the gardening season is that you’ve preserved the wisdom crop right there and then.  No toiling over hot-water canning baths or buying a bigger chest freezer for the basement.  If you keep all your garden notes from year to year together in the same place and read them from time to time, you will start to really benefit from this collected record of successes and failures, which would be all too easy to otherwise forget (except for the anaerobic compost tea spilling on you, right?!)  then, as is the nature of wisdom, you can act more effectively as a gardener in the future, repeating your successes and trying to avoid failure.

There’s other reason to have a notebook and pencil or pen at hand in the garden.  Every once in a while a blinding flash of inspiration about some improvement will come tearing through the mental firmament, and, like a lightning bolt, it will illuminate only oh-so-briefly unless we are poised to capture it with a few words or a sketch.  In your mind’s eye you may see a new arrangement for the garden or your may remember that you wanted to try a new product that you saw in a nursery.  Now is the time to write that stuff down, because unless you reinforce that little neural moment, it’s gone!


My sketches for a new type of elevated planting platform.  This inspiration came during a work meeting.  Because it was done on the most lose-able of  substances – loose-leaf paper – I immediately glued it into a garden sketchbook when I got home.  How many loose-leaf inspirations have I lost or inadvertently recycled over the years?  Legion!  Hence the hammering home of the garden NOTEBOOK in this post.


Wisdom is everywhere in the garden waiting to be harvested….tucked into the beans, on the trellises, even in the potting shed.  It is easy to preserve in perpetuity and tasty each time it is sampled thereafter.  So sharpen your pencils, open your notebooks, and go get it!


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