Free 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 lies in the garden and the kitchen.

But give a girl 4 DAYS OFF IN A ROW over the New Year 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, us 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. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t contact Country Trading Co. to ask us for help identifying a tree, or with a query that could be answered by just the kind of info a Home Orchard Journal would contain.

So as the New Year is time for taking stock of things and everything else in my life has been taken stock of to my smug, (I’ll say it before you do), satisfaction – 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 on it, I’ve made a list of the info I’ll have in my ultimate Home Orchard Journal. Each fruit tree will have it’s couple of pages of fame, recording:

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

In the spirit of new years resolutions 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 it’s 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. Here is a look at the entry I’ve done for the Casimoira Tree. Such a good feeling putting all that info together in one place. There I go sounding smug again.

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!

Home Orchard Journal Template


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 Recordclick to download  Ideas on what to write down and why.

Cover Templateclick to download

Tree Template – Print Double Sided

Extra Pages Templateclick 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 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.

Happy New Year everyone.  Here’s hoping its a good one.






  1. Happy 2015 to you in your home orchard
    I received absolutely no information about the trees I (happily) inherited when buying a property and have spent the last two years on an ongoing quest to discover what they are … if only to be able to tell the next owner!
    Your journal will give my scribbled notes and photos somewhere far nicer to live, as I get better educated, and help me pay better attention to the details of each of the trees (hadn’t thought of noting the pests).
    Thanks so much for providing these templates – they are absolutely brilliant and very style-y too!
    Best wishes

    1. Happy 2015 to you too Kate. So glad you’ll find a use for the journal templates. I think you’re right – they will help me pay better attention to what’s going on with my trees too. I’ve often thought it would be great if every property came with a journal about the trees – not just the edibles. Cheerio.

  2. fantastic idea! just what i need too, many thanks , and a very happy and prosperous 2015, cheers, heather

  3. Thanks for that great idea, Heather- just what I need. Funnily enough, I was doing a heap of clearing out only today, and found some photos we took of our first summer on this property, fifteen-plus years ago, when there were no trees. Right now it’s all lush, green and shady … My difficulty is that we grafted several varieties of apple onto each root stock, and the labels have become illegible over time, so this is going to be quite a mission! Maybe a winter job, or wait for a rainy day?

    1. Hi Bridget, thanks for the feedback. Sounds like you should strike while the iron is hot so to speak. Apple harvest season is nearly here – time to get the camera clicking and record the fruits of your labours! Heather

  4. Thanks Heather – I’m going to use it for the roses that I always think I will remember when I put them in. Many years ago we marketed a property not far from you and the vendor had been an avid tree man. He had stapled all the tree tags on his kitchen wall but sadly as he was too unwell at the time no-one knew quite what he had planted where but it was magic to wander through groves of trees that are pretty marginal for this area. Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year Julia, That is lovely that you’re going to use it for your roses. I hope you connect the dots on the other trees the previous owner planted. Happy New Year. Heather

  5. Wow thanks didn’t know you had a blog..will definitely have a look when I get home. Staying in Riwaka at the moment so will come for a visit before I head home x

    1. Thanks Vicki, glad we’re turning on the golden weather for your visit. Riwaka residents are lucky folks, such a great little micro-climate over there – they can grow pretty much everything and such great soil. We don’t have a retail store any more unfortunately – upgraded to a warehouse in Ruby Bay just over a year ago now – but do feel free to visit us online and we’d love to send you our weekly blog.

  6. Hi Heather,

    I wonder if your old journal was discovered say 1000 years from now, people might feel that aliens descended from the skies to teach humans to better take care of their trees! Well jokes apart, your new year tree journal is a brilliant idea, at it will keep every body on their toes, regarding maintenance of the trees, some thing very vital for our safety and tree’s longevity. I am going to steal your format :).

    1. Excellent Molly, you steal away – share widely. I would love to be a fly on the wall if someone did discover my orchard journal in 1000 years!

  7. Love it..Wish I had thought of something like this when I started planting all my trees and shrubs..I’ve had to go back to my memory and it’s not always that accurate. Thanks for sharing.

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