That sage quote about being doomed to repeat mistakes when we ignore history can also apply to gardens.

Yes, when it comes to growing things, we often do learn as much from our mistakes and disasters as we do from our successes. But so too we can get caught up in the business of the season, setting up and planting our gardens, that we sometimes lose track of the importance of history — even our own garden’s history.

That’s when keeping a garden journal can be essential. Master gardener John Fromer recently emphasized that necessity when speaking to a group at Merryspring Nature Center for one of the Tuesday Talks there.

He explained how he keeps more than one garden journal — a sort of field guide clipboard for notes while out in the garden, and a looseleaf notebook (or two) where he enters every bit of information on what is going on in his garden.

He noted he often snaps images of those clipboard pages with his cell phone, in case they get damaged or destroyed by rain. His looseleaf notebooks are the place where he enters information on purchases, progress, planting times, harvesting notes, plant successes and failures, contents and diagrams of garden beds and more.

Fact is, that for many of us, when it comes to our gardens the thought or practice of keeping a journal is the last thing we often think of doing. Fromer says it should be the first one.

The idea of a garden journal is nothing new. In fact I have an old one of an ancestor of mine who was particularly talented in gardening. She listed varieties and how they fared, planting dates and conditions and suggestions on improvements for future planting. She slipped in newspaper articles on gardening topics, and noted when and what she planted.

In short, it turns out that some of the best gardening advice you’ll ever get — comes from your own experience and history. That way you’ll often be able to predict results before you plant or even purchase plants or seeds.

I have found weather condition information especially helpful from year to year as I attempt to time when various things should be put in the ground or harvested.

So where to begin? Like Fromer pointed out, a garden journal does not have to be a special book. Something as simple as a clipboard or looseleaf notebook will be perfectly serviceable. A notebook will provide space to update information and add magazine articles on topics of interest, or mount photos of plantings or add purchase information to help you keep track of expenses. Include pages of graph paper for garden bed diagrams to scale.

Calendar pages can be added with date-specific information entered. A garden journal will also help avoid mistakes by listing those plants which did not fare well —a planting mistake is one thing, but repeating it is a waste of money and valuable time.

So here are some suggestions on getting started with your own, doing it now as the growing season is just getting underway in earnest:

• Diagrams of garden beds noting placement of crops or plants

• Garden photographs from early to mid to late season

• Sources for seeds and plants, including phone numbers, websites

• Plant lists of those varieties that succeeded or did not, including botanical names

• Seed starting information, when sown, when transplanted into ground

• Dates on planting, bloom and harvest times

• Pest information

• Fertilizer applications, dates and how much

• Weather information, last or first frost dates, planting dates for varieties

• Wish list of plants to try, including growing requirements.

• Expenses and receipts

I know we are all busy now, and starting a journal seems like the last thing you need to do now, but starting now can actually make this and future gardens more productive, even prevent mistakes in the future. When it comes to your landscape, your gardens, it turns out you actually are your best source of information for your garden.

Now is the time to take advantage of that experience and knowledge and put it to work for you.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She is a member of GardenComm and the National Garden Bureau. Her gardens are in Camden.