As a grower, you probably want to know which actions lead to success and which actions are mistakes. The best way to do this is to create a grow journal, also known as a grow diary and a grow planner.
According to human potential research over the past 60 years, one of the most important factors for developing any skill quickly is feedback.
Feedback is not only important. It’s essential.
It’s feedback that lets you know when you’ve done something wrong.
It’s feedback that lets you know whether you’re moving closer to a goal or further away from the goal.
A grow journal will help you become a better grower.
Keep reading, and we’ll teach you how to create one.
What Is a Grow Journal?
Grow journals come in different forms. The common thread between each one is the purpose. The purpose is to track data about your grow so you can learn how to be a better grower and/or help others become better growers.
A grow journal may take on the form of a:
- Published print book
- Mobile app
- Word doc
- Physical notebook
- PDF template with spaces that let you fill in details
It’s your choice which form you want to use. If growing is illegal where you live, while we cannot condone illegal activities, it’s important to remind you that apps and computer files are vulnerable to government surveillance. Keeping a paper journal is the only way to ensure your privacy.
Why You Should Write Regularly In a Grow Journal
1. You Can Learn From Your Mistakes
As mentioned above, if you keep track of which actions led to this or that bad result, you can prevent yourself from making the mistake in the future.
2. Writing Enhances Your Memory
It’s pretty hard to learn from mistakes and successes without memory, isn’t it?
Even if you never read your own journal, writing it will still help you remember what you did with your girls. Troubleshooting – and learning what you got right - will still be easier.
3. You Get the Bird’s Eye View
Journaling lets you log all the subtle details that can help you troubleshoot any problems that come up. You’re creating an entire database.
If you have problems troubleshooting on your own, there are growing experts and peers online who can look at this database and spot problems you weren’t able to.
How to Get Started With Your Grow Journal
There are so many ways to do this. We’ll start with the freestyle approach and then show you how to find apps and templates.
Whatever method you use, you always want to begin by including information about:
- Soil type or hydroponic solution type
- Whether you started with seeds or clones?
- Container size
- Growing medium
- Fertilizer/nutrient types & amounts
- Light types & settings
- Percent indica vs sativa
- Air temperature
- Cooling equipment data
The Freestyle Method
If you’re not into a structured approach and want to do it freestyle instead, just treat it as a diary.
You still want to make sure the info is helpful. Every time you do anything, write down the date, what you did, and a summary of what your plants look like. You can also snap photos.
If you water the plants, write it down. If you use a special feed water mixture, note what’s in the mixture and what the ratios are.
If you notice potentially harmful blotches on three leaves, note the blotch sizes, how many leaves are affected, what the blotches look like, and what you did about the problem.
If you notice fewer blotches, or you notice some of them shrunk or disappeared, write it down.
If you test the soil or nutrient solution, write down the pH level. If that was the first time you tested the pH in two weeks, write that down.
If you measure plant heights, write down the heights.
If you notice that some plants haven’t been growing taller within the past x weeks, write it down.
If you power on the lights for 18 hours and turn them off for six hours, write it down.
Remember that you want to use this journal for feedback. Make life easier for yourself by using bold text headings like:
- Light Hours
- Average Height (or Height of Each Plant)
- Nutrients Added
- Etc etc etc
Is it important that you log activities and outcomes for each particular plant? Make some headings for Plant 1, Plant 2, etc.
Do you have a hard time articulating/writing the state of health of your plants? Snap some photos. You can research the specifics later or ask a fellow grower to ID potential problems.
Grow Journal Apps
The tagline for this free app is “Built for growers by growers.”
You can sync GrowBuddy between your tablet, phone, desktop, or laptop. The non-phone versions allow you to journal offline.
The developers understand the need for privacy, so their security features are rock solid. All your data is encrypted, both on your device and on the GrowBuddy servers. They even delete everyone’s IP addresses every 24 hours and strip the metadata from users’ uploaded photos.
The app is free and ad-free. Currently, the developers make money by selling products through their marketplace and collecting fees from other marketplace sellers.
Soon there will be a “pro features” version available for a small monthly subscription fee. One of the pro features is the ability to add multiple users who are working on the same grow. Another is the ability to track multiple grows/gardens.
GrowBuddy is not only an app. It’s a community as well. You can share info from the app with other users when you need advice.
Grow With Jane
You can find this app in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
You can also create as many “Growlogs” as you like.
Grow With Jane will send you reminders, too. If you’re prone to forget to water or feed your plants, this app has you covered.
If you’re worried about privacy, any photos you take will be protected by their advanced security features. But remember: To ensure 100% privacy, stick with paper and a pen. No app is 100% private.
Like GrowBuddy, Grow With Jane has a community of growers who share data and advice with each other. The app makes it easy to do this.
Bud – Grow Journal & Community
This free Apple-only app ranks a little higher in the Apple App Store than Grow With Jane. The average of more than 1,500 ratings is 4.6 stars. Compare that to Grow With Jane’s 4.2.
The developers call it “a visual diary of your plant’s life.” Of course, you can track more than just one plant.
The elements that seem to make Bud popular is a well-organized interface and some of its social features.
In the community, you can get feedback on your data and photos, talk about strains, and learn from the experience of many growers.
For those who value privacy, Bud gives you the option not to share anything at all. Whether you choose this option or not, your photo metadata will be stripped during upload.
Grow Journal Templates
It’s not easy to find good templates in a Google or Amazon search. If you want to create your own grow journal from scratch, your best bet is to join one of the communities above and see other people’s journals. You can also see what type of info the apps track and base your DIY journal on that.
However, good pre-made templates do exist.
There is one that stands out compared to most others…
C. Grow Log by RichBunny
Do you want to go the pen and paper route?
RichBunny is selling a downloadable grow journal on Etsy for $3.99. The 70 Etsy reviews average 4.7 stars.
The weekly sheet part of the template includes space to record:
- Light schedule
- Room temperature
- Smell (none, weak, normal, or strong)
- General notes
Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit your journal entries to one per week. You can scribble over the word “week” and just add the date. You can print as many “weekly” sheets as you want to as well. You can also use all the blank sheets of paper you want for extensive notes if the grow journal template doesn’t give you enough room.