Friday, June 1, 2012

May 2012 Summary

Well another month has past and it is time to tally the harvest and reflect. Have you ever watched those weight loss TV shows like the Biggest Loser? There is the building of tension and excitement as the contestants score bounces up and down on the scales before finally coming to rest. Well I find it a bit like that as I enter my harvest figures into my spreadsheet. The final score keeps changing and holding me in anticipation of what it will finish up at. It’s the most exciting spreadsheet I have ever used.

-          Grown (g) Purchased (g) Grown %
Avocado          400                    0%
Basil             60                  100%
Beans                        1,080      0%
Beetroot         400           720     36%
Broccoli                       770      0%
Bok Choy         330                  100%
Capsicum         300         1,245     19%
Carrot            50         1,700      3%
Celery                         750      0%
Coriander                      200      0%
Corn                           100      0%
Cauliflower                    800      0%
Cucumber         480         1,030     32%
Eggplant       1,360                  100%
Garlic                         320      0%
Ginger                          90      0%
Lettuce          170            80     68%
Onion                        2,280      0%
Parsley          970                  100%
Pea                            500      0%
Potato         1,870           950     66%
Pumpkin          230           760     23%
Rocket            60           100     38%
Spring Onion                   100      0%
Sweet Potato                   870      0%
Silver Beet      460                  100%
Spinach                        300      0%
Squash         1,470                  100%
Tomato                       4,005      0%
Zucchini                     1,465      0%
Total          8,210        20,615     28%
Average                                29%

Once again I was pleasantly surprised, managing to grow 29% of our own vegetables. That’s close to a one third. I was scarred it was going to be more like 10%. This is why I think it is important to keep some kind of metric when working towards a goal. We too often underestimate our progress. We tend to not trust feedback from friends and family as we question their honesty. But a cold emotionless unbiased figure in a spreadsheet tells it straight. Don’t misinterpret me here, I would never reduce my life to constant measure. Figures are often misleading and who really wants their life ran by their accountant. But for a well described goal they are a powerful tool, and as I find a source of encouragement and motivation.

The dip in output is the result of seasonal change as this month saw the end to all plants planted during spring and summer, and those planted in autumn have only just started becoming harvestable. I am hopeful this dip can be removed at least minimised with a bit more attention and preparation prior to the transitional seasons autumn and spring. Particularly with regards to seedlings.

Total Time     8 person hours

Majority of gardening activity this month happened in 15 to 30 minute blocks, for a monthly total of 8 hours. This is just slightly under last month of 11 hours.

The children were excited to discover a couple of vegetables that we thought were long gone, a pumpkin and cucumber. Even though small the pumpkin was just large enough to make soup for lunch, and would you believe the cucumber, only found last weekend hiding under a parsley bush, was still crisp and delicious. The capsicums over these cooler months were the best, slow growing but perfect.

Does your garden experience a dip in May? Any tips or advice on how to minimise it?


  1. Hi Jason your harvests look great, I always struggle with the change of the seasons too, I think being organised and get some winter veg in before the end of the summer or beginning of autumn to keep things going.

    1. Sorry to hear you have a similar issue. But not to know I am not the only one. Yes I agree it is about getting some things started earlier. I will have to change my mind set and start thinking about winter veg in summer and summer veg in winter.

  2. Hi Jason, you are doing very well!

    I'm doing it a bit differently to you...I'm recording total food and what I'm growing as a percentage of that, while you are only doing veggies.

    I could do only veggies...the spreadsheet doing all the calculations makes it easy...I might create another column for just the veggies calculations.

    My %ages are dropping off due to winter as expected, but the average (over 30 weeks since I started), is still 19%. i.e. 19% of all the food that enters the house comes from the garden. The summer glut (some weeks over 40%) has been the cause of that.

    It's good way to get some idea of how you're going isn't it?

    1. Yes it is, as I described in the post I find it very motivational. For example I am going to be putting extra effort into reducing the drop this spring.

      Well done to you to, 19% is good if that also includes fruit. I am not recording fruit because there is nothing to record, yet.

  3. G'day Jason,

    Your output is much better than ours. In May we were restricted to the French round carrots, a little beetroot, some lettuce, a few cherry tomatoes, but our herbs have always produced. In the fruit area we are at last picking our own lemons and our mandarins are beginning to ripen. The "girls" are still giving us plenty of eggs.

    Keep up the good work!


    1. Carrots, beetroot, lettuce and tomatoes.. that sounds pretty good to me. Tomatoes at this time of year now that is impressive. Are they in a glass house?

      With the price of herbs, just having some well producing herbs makes a big impact on the shopping budget.

    2. Jason,

      Strangely enough the cherry tomatoes are still outside and still producing. We pick them green and let them ripen themselves inside on the kitchen window sill. Maybe it is the olive tree that is protecting them. We shall enjoy them while they last.


  4. Hi Jason,
    I have been inspired by the way you are measuring the amount of food you are producing in the garden and hours spent. It is very interesting to see the amount of produce, especially in late summer and autumn. Unfortunately everything slows down over Winter.

    I am currently conducting research into blogs that focus on sustainable living as part of my Masters at the University of New England, Australia. I am interested to find out the positive role that blogs play in inspiring people to live more sustainably.

    We are looking for people to participate in a short online survey (5-10minutes), link below

    If you could help that would be greatly appreciated.
    Student Researcher, Master of Environmental Systems, Markets and Climate Change
    University of New England

    1. Blogging about my experiences has helped me establish an on-line gardening community. Communities both on and off line are a source of great power that one can tap into. Good luck with your studies.


If you don't know which option to select... Name/URL is a recommended option. And you only need to provide a name.