I have just spent some time totting up the time spent in the garden last year and the yields:
|Harvests from the garden in 2015|
|Pods / fruiting veg||0||209||2072||0||2281||20|
As I anticipated root crops an greens constitute the majority of the harvest. I was initially a bit disappointed that the yields decreased compared to the previous year, on closer inspection this is the result of:
- Growing a decent crop of beans, peas and courgettes in 2014 (when they constituted the majority of the yield) and far fewer this year.
- Due to the appalling wet weather I have not yet being able to harvest many of the roots grown during 2015. Some skirret is harvested, one mashua, one oca and a few Jerusalem artichokes. Still remaining in the ground are at least a dozen mashua, some oca (not sure how many), also Jerusalem and Chinese artichokes, burdock, carrots, root chicory. Had I been able to harvest them I am sure the yield would have been considerably greater. If I remember, when I do harvest them I will come back to this post and update it. 3.8 kg mashua harvested on 4 February 2016
- Some crops were not harvested because I left them to bulk up more – perennial leeks, Babington’s leeks.
- There are always masses of greens, both for salad and cooking but I don’t always pick what there is. Partly because we are not there all the time and partly bad organisation. Had I been more attentive yields would have been higher for these.
|Comparison of yields in 2014 and 2015|
|Pods / fruiting veg||2281||13895||-11614|
|Time spent in the garden in 2015|
|Sowing seed / taking cuttings||2.5||8||0||0.5||11||11|
|Management / maintenance||2.5||9.25||7.5||7||26.25||26|
|Preparation of new areas||19||18||0||2.5||39.5||39|
I spent 102 hours gardening in 2015 – equivalent to fourteen seven hour days. This was twice as much time in the garden as in 2014. I had prepared more ground in 2014 than in 2013 so the resultant growing area for 2015 was larger and needed more time. I also had more time available and as I used that to prepare some additional beds for next year – nearly 40% of the total.
Management and maintenance – ie “weeding”, removing or cutting back plants that have finished their growth and moving things round – took 26 hours, compared to 9 the previous year, again reflecting the increased growing area. However 26 hours equates to under four days of work doing what most conventional gardeners spend a lot of time doing!
|Sowing seed / taking cuttings||11||5.25||+5.75|
|Management / maintenance||26.25||9||+17|
|Preparation of new areas||39.5||29.5||-10|
As time goes on and there is less scope for extending the growing area and things become more established I would expect management and maintenance to take up a larger proportion of the time, but not a great deal more actual time.
In addition to the basic numbers I really want to emphasise the less tangible harvests, such as pure joy. The garden has been incredibly beautiful, with an astounding amount of flowers.
This is burdock in flower growing amongst flat leafed parsley, also in flower.
Flies love carrot flowers
I have had such pleasure watching bees, flies, butterflies, moths and other unidentified things buzzing constantly through spring to autumn and such a wealth of flowers on plants left to go to seed, in particular flat leafed parsley, radish and carrots. I have seen several frogs and toads underneath the polycultures furthest from the house. It is really damp down there and they are constructed of lots of old twigs, branches and decomposing ‘stuff’, which seems to leave little nooks, crannies and passageways for these lovely amphibians to get through or just to sit about in. There are plenty of beetles and spiders too.
and bees love hyssop!