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Garden Journaling with Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is my favorite president. Sure, he had his faults, things we completely disagree with with our modern sensibilities (and rightfully so), but he was a contemplative man with a thirst for knowledge. And I’ve always thought he was just generally cool. He designed his house! He was personally involved in the Corps of Discovery expedition (better known as “Lewis & Clark’s trip”). He was pretty sure they would find wooly mammoths out there (I bet his was pretty disappointed when they came back without the mammoths, though…)

And, it turns out, he kept incredibly meticulous notes on his garden/plantation. He was an observational scientist who was willing to try out new things and keep records of the results. We know things about his era that would otherwise be lost to time if it weren’t for his careful notes. Plus, his garden is now used as a seed bank for rare plants.

A page from Jefferson’s garden journal

As it turns out, I’ve started a garden recently. My brother Ryan and I have taken on a plot at a community garden, and we’re excited to have a “real” garden (the herb garden on my porch is nice, but not exactly a vegetable mecca).

We talked about what to plant for awhile –squash, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, other hot peppers, green beans, eggplant, and two varieties of sunflowers. Maybe sweet potatoes, but we’re having trouble finding the slips–and debated where to plant, etc. Then my brother joked that we needed a garden journal because TJ had one.

Being modern folks…we have a garden GoogleDoc. But, in keeping in the spirit of the thing, we’re writing it as if we were Jefferson.

Ex. “Hottie plant was selected for its humorous name and possible appeal to Ryan. Covered plants assiduously with organic material and watered three times as prescribed by our father.

Ryan may have made a mistake in joking about the journal; so far, I’m enjoying that almost as much as the garden part. And it will help us keep track of who has watered and when, so it’s practical to boot.

I’ve never really kept a garden before, and I’ve certainly never journal-ed about it. Any gardeners out there? Any favorite tips to offer?

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