“This is the start of a new season in your life’s garden. So plan with courage. Plant with hope. Tend with kindness. And by all means, celebrate every single bit of the harvest.”

— Nicole Burke

Can it be? The new year is here and we are making so many plans for starting something new.

This might mean cleaning out closets, organizing the garage, but we suggest you put “start a garden journal” on your list of things to do in 2020.

Many in the Master Gardener program have wonderful journals. Some of us begin a journal, but sort of forget to keep it up over the year. But we all know there is so much value in keeping a garden journal and being dedicated to it over the whole season. Let us show you why you should begin one and your choices in how to create one that works for you.

We do live in an electronic age. We use our phone to snap photos of flowers or bugs or interesting plants we see at garden centers. We look up garden information on the internet. You can explore some of the many apps available for for garden journaling, but we think the best way to create a journal is the old-fashioned way.

Use a scrapbook, a notebook or even loose pages you can bind together later. At a moment’s glance, you can find the information you are looking for, arranged in a way that makes sense to you. It’s so easy to look back at what you have already entered without being bothered by an uncharged cellphone, forgetting your password or even losing your phone.

When should you start? Today would be a great day. How should you enter things? Any way that fits your style. You can keep it like a diary, or divide into sections like Projects; Plants; Weather. See what works for you as the season progresses.

You’ll want photos in your journal, to reference the good, the bad and even the ugly. Instead of scrolling through scads of tiny photos on your phone, get some of your pictures developed to include in your journal. This might mean showing off your beautiful blooms, huge heads of cabbage — or disasters like when the wind broke off some limbs of a favorite tree.

Other topics to consider for your journal:

Seed catalogs are arriving in the mail; note the date you receive them and if you ordered a new one, log that in also. You might even snip photos from those catalogs of products you ordered.

How about noting how many birds you have in your garden this winter. Perhaps you need to remind yourself to make more feeders or houses for them.

Also take notice of the daily weather conditions so you can compare year to year when you see the first buds on your fruit trees, how much snow/rain you receive.

Are you starting some of your own seeds at home? Note the date you planted them and their progress. When you are ready to set them out, make a notation so you can watch for frost dates, etc.

If you have a vegetable garden, be sure to document the varieties you plant (and location). Was that new tomato a keeper or would you not waste your time or money on it again? When did you get your first ripe tomato? Are you struggling with aphids on your Brussels sprouts.

It is always fun to plant something new. Write down what you chose to include in your vegetable garden and then whether you liked or didn’t like it. Would you plant it again? Write that down.

Are you planting a new tree this year? Put your kids in front of it and make a note to yourself to take a photo now and do it again year after year on this same date. What fun to watch the kids and tree grow together.

Make a wish list for what you’d like your garden and yard to be. Set some small goals you want for this season, but add some loftier ones that might take more planning, and maybe more money too. Would you like to build more trellises, a potting table or maybe even a garden shed? As you accomplish the goals for this year, put a check mark by them. We all like to show what we have accomplished.

Empty seed packets are another good item for your journal. Include sales slips so you remember when and where items were purchased what you paid for it. We lose track of time and this might will document just when you put in that raspberry patch.

Finding just the right book for your journal that pleases you can be an adventure too. Snoop out the sales now that the holidays are over; you may find a bargain. Then, on the next wintry day, do some “gardening” at your kitchen table with that journal in front of you. We might be kept indoors by the cold and snowy weather outside, but don’t let that dampen your enthusiasm for gardening.

WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. The Master Gardener Walk-In Diagnostic Clinic operates from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Direct questions about gardening, landscaping or this program to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1604, or leave samples for identification at the WSU Extension office. Leave a message with your name, phone number, email address and the nature of your problem or question. You can also email your questions to gardener@co.yakima.wa.us and include pictures if you have them. A member of the Master Gardener Clinic team will check voicemails and emails, and reply as soon as possible. The WSU Extension office is at 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100, in Union Gap. Call 509-574-1600. New volunteers are welcome.