Remember buying new notebooks for the first day of school? Peeling the thin crinkly plastic from the package. Smelling the freshly printed paper. Etching your name into the title page with a bold (but not too streaky) brand-new pen.
That’s what it feels like to open a Goldleaf guided journal.
The company makes minimalist notebooks for cannabis home-growers, as well as medical and recreational users. Each is equipped with medical and industry expert-backed advice for those looking to develop a better educated relationship with the plant. The grow planner, specifically, falls in line with the cannabis farmers’ tradition of taking detailed notes to effectively compare the successes and failures of grows over time — except in this iteration, it is presented in a stylish, Moleskine-esque journal tailored to the needs of a beginner-to-intermediate home cannabis grower.
“The grow planner is for the people that want to nerd out about the craft,” says Goldleaf founder Charles McElroy. According to McElroy, the intended Goldleaf consumer is a grower much like himself: a self-proclaimed perfectionist who wants “to learn from their past mistakes and improve upon it.”
In reality, that means the journals aren’t perfect for the total novice. First-time growers using a Goldleaf journal should research the basics of pH controls, nutrients, light, and soil — as well as soilless — growing methods on their own before diving in. However, the grow journals do help a grower who has already decided what methods they’re using effectively keep track of their progress over time.
The smaller grow jotter includes templated daily entry pages, a section to track cultivar specifics, and a two-page spread for users to track their nutrient regimen. The longer grow journal also includes annual and month-to-month calendars, a chart where journalers can graph their plant’s health, and pages for tasting notes. Both come with a set of grower reference cards, which outline things like how to calculate energy usage, for example, or diagnose plant health problems.
“The idea for Goldleaf was to be a way to show the science behind cannabis, but in a little bit more digestible way and in a little bit more mature, less stoner-culture-y way,” says McElroy. In order to make Goldleaf’s journals for medical patients, for example, McElroy and his team went through several rounds of edits alongside a team of doctors to ensure all of the information provided was proven and accurate. For the grow journals, McElroy sent drafts to growers he met when working with a grow-op in Colorado and some expert home growers in his orbit for their feedback. Rather than repeating myths of stoner lore, Goldleaf aims for accuracy.
A quest for truth doesn’t mean Goldleaf sacrifices in aesthetics, however. The journals, coming in neutrals and jewel tones, are completed by small, gold type printed into the front and back covers. The spines are nicely stitched, and the paper is a thick, cream-colored hue. Stylish and simple, the Goldleaf journals are a good gift for cannabis lovers — and especially those in states where they can’t legally accept a smokable or ingestible cannabis product (when asked about their headquarters in Ohio, a state which still prohibits recreational cannabis, McElroy coyly noted that they see customers ordering Goldleaf products from “everywhere,” regardless of cannabis’ legal status in their state).
Most useful are the daily entry pages and charts for tracking nutrient input, both of which help one organize their growing approach in an intuitive and aesthetically pleasing format. The daily entry pages, for example, have designated spaces to dictate the plant’s growth stage, overall health, and whether it was pruned, cleaned, fed any nutrients, or facing pest-control issues. Less useful are the pages for DIY graphing, which can feel a bit like elementary school science worksheets. That being said, some journalers are more visual than others, and the less useful pages are still entertaining to fill out for stationery fiends.
Perhaps the secret of Goldleaf’s products isn’t even the templates themselves, but the fact that their aesthetic and organizational appeal makes notetaking much more enticing than an average notebook. Cannabis growing is perhaps the nerdiest sector of the weed world — non-organic methods can quickly become a chemist’s game, and some soilless growers’ setups especially can look like a scene from Dexter’s Lab. Half of what determines a successful harvest is how well a grower can keep track of what they’re doing — and it’s hard to forget to record a day’s work when one’s eager to fill out all the pages.
“Part of what journaling is, is as you write, your brain is recomposing those thoughts, and it’s helping you memorize it a bit more,” says McElroy. If Goldleaf’s pleasing aesthetics and informative templates encourage better note-taking, then they’ve done their job.