I love autumn—it’s truly a beautiful season. In the last several weeks, we’ve been blessed with the rain we needed after a fairly long, dry summer. The light frost we had a couple weeks ago brought out the fiery colors of fall in the trees around town—and who doesn’t enjoy the sunny autumn days we’ve had? As we settle into the rhythms of fall, you’re likely winding down your gardening for the season. So, for the million-dollar question: How did it go this year?

With the downturn in the economy the past couple of years, more people than ever have turned (or returned) to gardening. Whether it’s to save money by planting vegetables, put vacation funds toward a “staycation” or make an investment in new landscaping to add value to a home, gardening has resurged in popularity among all age and income groups. And frankly, with bad news seemingly the order of the day in our national media, gardening is great therapy!

Take note of your accomplishments!

Whether you’re new to gardening or a lifelong hobbyist, have you considered writing a gardening journal? I’m not talking about making daily entries as to which flowerbed you weeded or what bird you saw at your feeder; rather, did you take time this year to document what worked and what didn’t? Did you record when you fertilized the lawn or planted your vegetables? Many people start from scratch each year with trying to recall how to do things, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are a few suggestions for what you might want to journal: fertilizing (your lawn, flowers and shrubs!), planting dates for your annuals and vegetables, what you planted where (more on that below), when flowers started to bloom or crops were ready, what types of fertilizer and insect control you used and when, and when you did major pruning. Like I said, this doesn’t have to be a daily narrative—simply make a note when you did major tasks.

Now, for your vegetable gardens, it’s good to chart how you arranged your crops. Whether you lay it out on a spreadsheet program or jot it on a napkin, try to remember what went where. If your peppers or tomatoes didn’t turn out…well, it wasn’t a great year for peppers or tomatoes. But did you notice they spent most of the summer in the shade? Make a note to put them in a sunnier spot next year! If you grow corn and beans, rotate their location through your garden regularly to get the highest crop yields. Sure, you know how your garden looked now, but next spring you might have forgotten altogether what you planted where.

Reflect on your garden successes!

Many of the ideas I’ve suggested may have to wait until next year for you to put them into practice. But as you sit inside with a cup of coffee watching the rain, do this much: grade yourself on the end results (and go easy!): did you remember to use Jack’s Blossom Booster or Petunia Feed on your flowers to get more blooms? Were you happy with the herbs you tried out, and if not, what varieties might you enjoy more? Did you really have any use for all the zucchini you grew (and no, “paperweight” or “doorstop” are not valid uses!)?

Next time you’re at Vander Giessen’s buying bird seed or lime for your lawn, take a minute to share what went well and what could have gone better. Sure, gardening is winding down for the year, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget your accomplishments! Start a journal today and you’ll thank yourself in the spring.