It is recommended you record everything during the growing season, sowing dates, germination, pricking out, flowering periods, harvest dates along with number of stems sold and most popular varieties. Don’t forget the weather – last frost date being particularly important. The more information you collect, the better you can plan for next year.
Many means of recording were discussed, from the simplest to quite sophisticated ones.
Photographs – Photos stored on your phone and computer have dates which are invaluable particularly for flowering times and you can compare one season with another. Using Instagram regularly also serves this purpose.
Labels – the starting point when sowing and quite a lot of information can be included. Vital if you work with other. Always write a label in pencil, big chunky ones B or 2B usually sold for nursery schools or carpenters. Permanent markers never prove to be permanent.
Using a voice memo on your phone whilst in the flower field is useful for quick notes and can be recorded elsewhere later.
Diary – a large page a day is recommended to record tasks, sowing, events and weather. One good idea is to use a multicoloured pen, green – weather, black – to do, blue – done, red – urgent. If you prefer use the digital diary on your phone, however a handwritten diary is a permanent physical record.
Spreadsheets – keep a master spreadsheet, update each week and make notes on a printout. Information can then be collated in the winter. Can be divided into three – bulb crops/annuals and biennials/perennials & shrubs.
Build up a seed sowing schedule from sowing dates and germination rates. This will keep you on track and not be tempted to sow too early. Plan sowing and planting with wedding dates to ensure flowers are available at the right time.
Set up an availability list, do a weekly check of what flowers are available, review best varieties and quantities grown. Record combination of flowers for bunches. You can then match to orders.
Mailchimp can be used to send weekly availability lists out to florists, can be used for retail and newsletter customers too. It allows people to opt out unlike a straight forward email.
Bullet journal – this is much more creative and a lot less restricting than a diary. It is a dot grid notebook to which you add the days and months then add a bullet style task or event log for each day. You need to know what you want to record before you set it up. Further information at www.bulletjournal.com
Google calendar is good because it syncs easily with spreadsheets and uses colour coding.
Use a Gantt chart to format a flower farm programme, more information at www.gantt.com
Floret Farms Cut flower garden planning kit available with the Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden book.
There are other garden planners to be found on line, sometimes more vegetable orientated but easily adapted to flower growing.
Remember recording is not just flowery things, don’t forget to record mileage and other costs for accounts/tax return.