Make your Own Home Orchard Journal

Make your Own Home Orchard Journal

I’m not what you’d call a crafty girl. If I’m totally honest, which maybe I shouldn’t be, I’d say I’ve never seen the point of patch-working and scrap-booking (sorry). I can knit – but my real talent and inclination lie in the garden and the kitchen.

But give a girl 4 DAYS OFF IN A ROW and she has time to think up all sorts of schemes and projects and one of them has definite crafty leanings. For the past ten years, we’ve been planting fruit trees around the property and I’ve kept a little notebook with various drawings and scribbles to remind me what was planted where and when.

It’s a nice notebook, hand-bound, and bought for just this important purpose. The trouble is that my plot is bigger than my page. And as we all know, we gardeners are buggers for planting more trees, moving them and even on occasion, killing them. So much so in my case that the poor wee notebook now resembles a crossword puzzle in a doctors waiting room, completed by 10 different people.

I know I’m not alone in this dilemma. 

So – it is time to deal to the orchard notebook. You see it is only going to get worse as I fully intend to keep planting and one day when I’m compost, some other gardener will thank the earth I walked on for writing it down legibly.

If if I knew 10 years ago what I know now, I’d have approached my orchard notebook differently. I wouldn’t set it out in chronological entries – that is a diary which is handy for general garden records but hopeless to find key info in from years past.  No, what I should have done is organised it around the stars of the show, the fruit trees themselves.  It is the history, successes, and failures of each member that interests me now.

And as I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, I’ve made a list of the info I’ll have in my ultimate Home Orchard Journal. Each fruit tree will have its couple of pages of fame, recording:

  • Name
  • Where I got it
  • History of the variety
  • Pollinator
  • Rootstock
  • Location (GPS coordinates via smartphone woo hoo)
  • Date planted
  • Date it flowers
  • Date it ripens
  • Date of the first harvest
  • Description of tree and fruit
  • Pruning & Pests
  • Photos
  • Harvest Records
  • Recipes & Notes

I’ve started my new Home Orchard Journal off and put it in a folder with alphabetical dividers. You can arrange it how you want, put it in a clear flip file or make it into a fancy scrapbook if you are that way inclined. I am not and I’m just chuffed to finally have my muddled notebook on its way to a more decipherable form before it all got forgotten.

I’ve made a list of all the fruit trees to fill out a record for and my new Home Orchard Journal will have 130 entries on the first pass!  It may take some time but it will be such a good feeling putting all that info together in one place. There I go sounding smug.

But seriously – won’t it be satisfying in 20 or 30 years to look back at a photo of that bright little thing full of energy and purpose that has now turned into a graceful old lady of the orchard. I’m talking about the tree, not the gardener!


Here is the template so you can sort your orchard records out too, or print it out and put it in a folder to give to a friend who you know would appreciate it.  Apart from the cover I’ve tried to keep pages plain so it doesn’t drink the ink from your printer. Files may take a few minutes to download. Take a read of the “What to Record” one while you wait. Enjoy!

What to Record  click to download  Ideas on what to write down and why.

Cover Template  click to download

Tree Template – Print Double-Sided

Extra Pages Template  click to download

Let us know how you get on with it. Perhaps if enough of us fill it in we could put the entries together into some form of a book about home orchards across NZ? Or better still if we all publish the GPS coordinates of our orchards we could have an interactive map of home orchard journals across the world!  –  yep, definitely time for me to go back to work before I have too many more bright ideas.

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