600kg of food harvested in 2020

Principle 3: Obtain a yield

 

Abundant cherry plum harvest, turned into wine and drinks

 

We produced over 600kg of food in 2020, which was a significant improvement in our harvest from 2019 of 532kg.  This was harvested from a Garden Farming area of 387m² (land size, less roof area) in a year that we recorded 807 mm of rain, significantly higher than the long term average. This equates to a yield of 1.37kg/m².

The increase in overall yield was due to the higher rainfall, huge pumpkin harvest and big increase in fruit harvest > 315kg vs 176kg last year. Having such a large fruit harvest is becoming quite problematic, as lots of work is required to preserve the yield - and there is only so much fruit you can eat. Another increasing problem is fruitfly. Proper fruitfly netting has helped increase yield and reduce preserving work significantly. 

Our vegetable production was lower 233kg vs 310kg last year. I belive that my problems growing tomatoes is primarily caused by tomato russet mite. I'm attempting to address this issue for the 2021 season by applying wettable sulfur. I'm also now getting into making up various concoctions of nutrient rich water using seaweed / worm castings / chook manure / comfrey / borage etc. Quite stinky, but good fun and a good workout - using watering cans.

I've made some extensions to our rainwater harvesting systems to help capture and store storm water in the soil, as well as greywater.

Storm water collection from neighbouring property / laneway.

Grey water channel below garden beds

  • Eggs (2020 harvest total was about 37kg, 861 eggs  > up 56 on last year)
  • Vegetables (2020 harvest total was 233kg)
  • Fruit (2020 harvest total was 315kg)
  • Herbs (2020 harvest total was 2.6kg)
  • Other - (2020 harvest total was 11.3kg)



The whole family has been involved in the recording of the yield, which has required some discipline. I’ve recorded the data, firstly in a small notebook, with a page per month - and the totaled them and recorded them in a spreadsheet with our previous year totals. This was done with Google Sheet, and is published as a live doc here. You can click on the tabs at the bottom to view the results from previous years that we have collected data.

External inputs over the year include:
  • Chook feed. 2 x 20kg bags last us about 6 months > 80kg for the year. We had about 10 layers for most of 2020, with 5 chicks hatched late in the year. I estimate that I collected 12.5kg of dried chook manure in 6 months > 25kg for the year. Turned this into liquid manure for plants.
  • We used 2.5 x 9kg gas bottles over the year, using a 2 burner gas stove in the kitchen.
  • Our total power imported for the year was 809.3kWh = average of 2.22kWh per day.
  • Our total power exported for the year was 1636.4kWh with a 1.5kW solar system.  
  • A 1.5kW solar system typically generate about 2190kWh per year, so I estimate that our total use for the year was 2190 - 1636 + 809 = 1363 kWh. About 3.73kWh per day. This includes full-time homeschooling for most of the year, a home office, water pressure pump and food preserving.
  • Mains water (used for irrigation and water fights). Jan-Apr 52kL / May-Aug 0kL / Sept-Dec 0kL. Total 52kL. I don't think this is accurate.
  • Sawdust used for humanure toilet system. About 1.5 small trailer loads per year (6' x '4). This is collected for a year, left to composted for about a year and then mixed with chook yard material and other amendments for a further composting before use on the garden / fruit trees.
I’d like to encourage other RetroSuburbanites to have a go at recording yields. It would be interesting to see how results vary with different techniques and effort in differing climates. If you have recorded results in the past, please share them in the comments below.

See our 2019 and 2013 food harvest result post here


Comments

This is a great demonstration of the productivity of garden farming and low impact of permaculture designed RetroSuburban living. The discipline needed to record this data should be supported by government as "cheap as chips" useful citizen science but I don't think we should hold our collective breath for that.

Well done Richard and family

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