Garden Journal (GCC095 (H1692))

The expense ledger is meant to keep track of all expenses associated with the garden. All seeds, fertilizer, chemicals and other purchases should be recorded here with their price. Recording the brand name or company from which each item was purchased also may be helpful as a future reference.

Todd Weinmann, Extension Agent / Cass County

Jason Goltz, Extension Agent / Richland County

Expense Ledger

Capital expenses such as equipment do not need to be counted in the annual operating cost as a total because their cost is divided among many seasons. The total cost of the equipment can be divided over its expected lifespan and that amount can be included each year thereafter.


Purchase price of tiller: $2,000

Lifespan: 20 years

$2,000/20 years = $100 per year

After 20 years, you would not make any more entries for the tiller because it would have reached the end of its life on a financial basis even if you continue using it. Equipment that is rented must be included every year as an annual expense.

The total from this section, once calculated, will be subtracted from the revenue portion of this book.

Revenue Ledger

The revenue ledger is meant to keep track of the value of the produce the garden produces. Because the garden produce is meant to replace produce you normally would purchase, we recommend you look at your local grocery or farmers market and use the current retail price of the produce you normally would have bought.


Tomatoes harvested: 50 pounds

Current local price: $2 per pound

50 pounds x $2 = $100

The value of the tomatoes in the example is perceived to be $100, based on local prices.

Total Revenue – Total expenses = Total Return on Investment $________

Garden Journal

The journal section of this book should record as much about the activities of this garden as possible. This information can be used as a reference to review at the end of the season or to look back at growing conditions in subsequent years.

Information we suggest you include would be dates that certain crops were planted, as well as any observations during that time. Significant weather events should be documented as well; these would be hail events, frosts, droughts or anything that will affect the crop. Harvest dates for certain crops can help develop a trend to predict future harvests under the same conditions.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is a must for gardening. By keeping records of what, where and when you planted, you will be able to change your garden design. Do not ever follow tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or peppers with each other; diseases are sure to follow. Also, when these four plants are done growing in the fall, be sure to remove the spent plants and fruits.

Companion Planting

A trick for companion planting is to put a radish seed every foot or so in the row of other seeds you have planted. The radishes come up before the other seeds and provide a guide to the location of the row.

Growing corn where legumes, such as peas or beans, have been planted in the past is a good idea. Because legumes and rhizobacteria in the soil have a symbiotic relationship that incorporates nitrogen into the soil, corn will utilize that nitrogen the following season.

Disease and Composting

If you get plants that have diseases, do not compost them. Some diseases will survive in the soil. Don’t compost weeds, insect-infested plants and pesticide-treated plants. Too much of one type of plant in your compost can hinder the process of it breaking down. When applying compost, a good rule of thumb to follow is adding 1 to 2 inches per season..


The most important thing to do when insects are involved is to identify if they are causing harm or if they are a beneficial insect. Not all insects should be killed just because they are near or on your plants. A threshold level for an insect, weed or disease is important in helping you determine if and what action needs to be taken.

Volunteer Opportunity

Many figures show the financial benefits of growing your own vegetables. Unfortunately, because we live in an age of instant communication, those numbers usually cannot be cited or quantified in any way. So would you be willing to share the results of your garden journal with us?

If you would like to do that, you can email your total expenses and revenue to We will not share any of your personal information or email address with anyone.


Acclimatization: the process of making plants adapt to different growing conditions

Annual: a plant that will complete its life cycle in one growing season

Biennial: a plant that will complete its life cycle in two growing seasons

Determinate: plants grow to a “set” size and their fruit all tends to ripen at about the same time

Fertilizer: essential amendments that provide a plant with nutrition

Floriculture: the study and growing of flowers

Herbicide: a chemical for killing plants

Hybrid: when two plants that have different traits are crossed

Hybrid vigor: seen with a hybrid plant; often results in resistance to disease and insects, an increase in yield and a change in physical characteristics from the parent plant

Indeterminate: plants grow until frost kills them and their fruit tends to ripen throughout the season

Insecticide: chemicals that harm, repel or kill insects

Legumes: plants that symbiotically convert unusable nitrogen from the atmosphere into usable ammonia by means of rhizobacteria

Olericulture: the study and growing of vegetables

Organic matter: material from plants, animals and other living organisms that play vital roles in water, nutrients and life cycles of plants in their vicinity

Perennial: a plant that will live more than two seasons

Pesticide: chemicals for controlling pests

Pomology: the study and growing of nuts and fruits

Rhizobacteria: bacteria living on the roots of plants that benefit plants by producing hormones and fixing atmospheric nitrogen

Systemic insecticide: a chemical a plant takes in usually through the root system, and moves or translocates it to different parts of the plant

Symbiotic: the relationship of two or more organisms in which both benefit

October 2013

For more information on this and other topics, see


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