Kate over at Living the Frugal Life asked the $64,000 question in her blog this week: just how many pounds of produce can one grow in a suburban lot? Some folks asked about how to track harvests, so I thought I’d post my system here. It’s overkill for most people, but here it is, and feel free to use what you like.
- Sheet 1: Garden bed planning
- Put in the length and width of each of your garden beds.
- Put in your goals for what percentage of your garden you want to dedicate to legumes, grains, calorie crops, greens, and other. (These are defined on the spreadsheet).
- Now start playing with percentages. What percentage of which bed will have which kind of crop? The spreadsheet will keep a running total against your goals, so you can easily see if you need more legumes, fewer tomatoes, etc.
- Sheet 2: Harvests <—This is the sheet that will be most useful to most people.
- Each week has a space for the number of pounds of each crop harvested that week.
- These are tallied automatically, and this data is carried forward to the next tabs.
- I keep a copy of this printed out in my kitchen. When I harvest from the garden, I weigh it and note it on the chart. Then, a couple times a season, I tally everything up to date and input it into the spreadsheet. I find this much more convenient than booting up the computer each time I bring in a carrot.
- Sheet 3: Yields
- This takes the total harvests recorded on the previous sheet and tallies up the total cash value of the crop.
- Input your own values for each crop – either what you’d pay for them at market or what you could actually sell the crop for.
- You can also put in the actual number of plants (or square feet) you planted and get a value-per-plant or value-per-square-foot figure.
- Sheet 4: Calories per square foot
- First, put in the number of people you’re growing for (M2). This will give you a target number of calories, based on just under 1 million calories per person per year.
- Then put in the number of square feet you planted with each crop (column F). Or, use this more theoretically to see what you’d need to plant to provide enough calories for your target group.
- As a default, the number of pounds of harvest per square foot is based off John Jeavon’s “How to Grow More Vegetables…” intensive raised bed system. Once you know how many pounds YOU harvest per 100 square feet, you’ll want to change the calculations to be working from your concrete numbers.
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