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This gardening blog is written in Bathurst, NSW, Australia.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Amateur Listmaker

I like lists.  I’m a list maker.   The book above is a list of ornamental plants I've planted over the last six years with dates, where I planted them and brief notes.  But I especially like "To Do" lists.  I have lists for household jobs, shopping lists and gardening lists.  Now, I don’t want to mislead you; I don’t always follow the lists.  Sometimes a list sits there and reproaches me because although the top of the list says “June”, it’s now August and nothing has been crossed off yet.  And yet, lists are useful. 

One garden list I find really useful is one I started about ten years ago and am still refining.  It’s in the form of a Word document on my computer, which I print out every year, but in the early days it was handwritten.  The list is called “Garden jobs by month” and it’s like one of those lists they have in monthly gardening magazines of things to be done in the garden that month.  But mine is more useful to me, because it only contains the plants I have in my garden and the jobs I have to do there.
I’ll explain how I set it up and how I use it, and I hope you’ll find it a helpful idea.

It’s divided into pages, one page per month of the year. I print out a whole year at a time, then put the page for the current month on my fridge so I’ll see it often and hopefully be motivated to work through it. 

For each month, I set up a table with five columns.  The columns are titled: Plant, Feed, Prune, Spray, and Other.  In each column I’ve typed in the jobs for the month that go under that heading. 

This is not a complete list of all the things that can be done in August in Bathurst, but just the things I regularly do in my garden in August.  Oh, and in case the "Spray" part is worrying you, it's only for organic sprays like white oil and homemade milk and bi-carbonate fungicide. 

I wrote the original lists using magazines and gardening books, and every year I refine them.  When I’ve completed a job, I tick it off on the printed page on the fridge.  Sometimes I find a job is in the wrong month, for example, I originally had Rosemary in the pruning column for September, but realized that it’s still flowering in September here, so I made a note on the page, observed when it stopped flowering, and then changed it to November on the computer file, ready for the next year.  I’m still making these kinds of changes, especially when I get plants I haven’t grown before.

This all makes me sound very organized, but remember when I mentioned a list headed “June” that I still hadn’t completed in August?  Well, that was this list this year.  So on my fridge at the moment are the lists for June, July and August, and I’m aiming to get through them all by the end of this month.  This might seem like the list isn’t working – well, actually it’s me that hasn’t been working, of course.  But the list is still useful, because although I am behind, I still know what I have to do. And as most of the jobs I haven’t done are winter pruning, it doesn’t really matter if I do them a month or two late. And speaking of pruning, on the back of each page is another table, explaining how to prune each plant that should be pruned that month, so if I can’t remember, I just turn over the page. I started doing this two years ago, and it’s been very helpful.

The sun is shining today, so this afternoon I'll be pruning.
Oleander, Escallonia, Hibiscus...  The list keeps going, and hopefully, so will I.


  1. What a great - and simple - idea! I'll steal it straight away...

    The simplest ideas are almost invariably the best.

  2. Wow, this is fantastic! You are very organized! I'm afraid I am not that detailed, but maybe one of these days. You are a good role model. :)

  3. I love this. A way for me to organize things a bit better. I will work on this and of course give you full credit...can't wait!!

  4. I would be a better role model if I actually did the jobs in the right months! But thank you all for your kind comments.

  5. I start of with organization and lots of good intentions and invariably everything gets away a bit. I looked at my plant list recently and realized that a few of the plants had disappeared some time ago....

  6. I've just discovered your blog so I'm catching up on some of your posts. Love this idea too. I thought about a calendar to remind me of what need doing each month but your 5 columns are much better.... now to actually do it and stick to it.


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