And the results are in…

An early harvest of Colleen

An early harvest of Colleen

This year I decided to keep a record of some of the crops that I harvested from the garden (not all of them, I’m not that much of a garden-geek). Really I wanted to demonstrate to myself that I am making a useful contribution to our food consumption, and to show that it is possible to grow a significant amount of food in a relatively small space. The two crops that I recorded were courgettes and potatoes. Since the potatoes were all dug up some weeks ago and the courgette plants have now been finished off by the cold weather, I have the full season’s results.

Prolific courgettes

Prolific courgettes

In total, from an area of approximately four square metres I harvested just over 12kg of courgettes. Of these 7.3kg were from ‘ordinary’ courgettes (two green bush and two Trieste White Cousa) and 4.8kg from three Costata Romanesco plants. We ate the majority of these over the summer, but some of them went into soups that are currently frozen for winter consumption.

Colleen and Valor in a raised bed

Colleen and Valor in a raised bed

The total harvest of potatoes was an impressive 41kg. They have been feeding us since about June and we still have quite a lot stored. We grew these in approximately five square metres of garden plus three dumpy bags* and one small growing sack. The most prolific variety in the dumpy bags was the first early variety Colleen which yielded just over 6.07kg from one dumpy bag filled with grass clippings. garden compost and shredded paper and planted with 9 tubers. In comparison, six tubers planted in a soil-filled raised bed gave us 5.73kg. The main crop varieties Milva and Mira did less well, only yielding 3.5kg from their dumpy bag (I mixed them together). Valor (a second early) did particularly well in the raised bed containing soil, yielding an astonishing 12.7kg  from 6 tubers.

Potatoes in dumpy bags in the 'waste of space' corner

Potatoes in dumpy bags in the ‘waste of space’ corner

All varieties of potato did better in soil in beds than in dumpy bags. I think this is actually related to water availability: we had a very dry summer and the vigorously growing potatoes in the dumpy bags wilted on numerous occasions even with daily watering, whilst those growing in the garden never wilted. Despite this limitation, the dumpy bags were a great success – they increased the growing space available and added significantly to our harvest. My favourite potato has to be Colleen – they grow really well and provide the first potatoes of the season, but I liked Valor too. I think these are the varieties we will focus on next year.

Costata Romanesca - delicious fried with garlic (each of those slices is 5-8cm across)

Costata Romanesca – delicious fried with garlic (each of those slices is 5-8cm across)

The Costata Romanesco courgettes are a favourite of Carol Deppe and she recommends using them for drying. This is something we didn’t get round to doing this year, but I will have a go at next year. The plants are big and start off as bushes, but then get to sprawling around. Whilst not prolific in terms of fruit, those they do grow can get really big but still remain very tasty (unlike marrows) and tender. However, I do like the more normal courgettes, especially for their joyful abundance and will continue to grow them every year.

All in all, it’s been an interesting experiment to weigh our crops. And what’s the most important thing I have learned? Next time make a proper recording sheet, because trying to decipher all those scribbled notes on several tatty sheets of paper is quite a challenge at the end of the season!

-oOo-

* I have been experimenting with growing in containers in a previously unused bit of space. There are several ‘waste of space’ posts if you are interested: here, here and here

Previous Post
Leave a comment

8 Comments

  1. Linda

     /  November 8, 2013

    I notice that you have what looks like a non-stick frying pan? Graeme and I often use the example of researchers’ behaviour as our baseline for starting our own research and decision-making. For example, the research team investigating the relationship between deodorant and cancer stopped using deodorants containing aluminium. Likewise for plastics in general and teflon-coated pans. We ended up deciding that on balance, because of both health concerns and environmental concerns, we would wherever possible move to http://www.green-pan.co.uk/uk/mission-7947.htm or similar and various other ceramic alternatives

    Like

    Reply
    • You do raise an interesting point… I have owned most of my pans for many years and have never been particularly worried about them, but it’s something I will think about. Usually, unless I have a really pressing concern I am reluctant to ditch a serviceable item and replace it. Oh dear, yet another dilemma!
      As for aluminium, I was told the other day that the link between it and Alzheimer’s (not cancer, though) has been disproved… another thing on my list of issues to research.

      Like

      Reply
  2. It’s coincidental that you’ve posted this now, when I’ve just started recording yields myself. I realised that, as I was liable to pop out and harvest enough for a meal at a time rather than an entire crop in one go, I have no idea how much we are actually producing. Although it’s November, my list is encouragingly long and I’m looking forward to adding up all those totals. I suspect we’re producing far more than I’ve been giving us credit for.

    Like

    Reply
    • I think next year I will be a bit more organised about doing this… but even the limited information that I have collected has been encouraging. We only have a small garden and it feels really good to be able to demonstrate that, even in our limited space, we can actually make a significant contribution to our diet, reduce food miles and save money. I wonder how much 12kg of organic courgettes would have cost me?

      Like

      Reply
      • I haven’t made a distinction in my recording, but rather a lot of my ‘yield’ is turning out to be foraged at the moment. I’m counting that as, even though I’ve not actually grown and tended it, I’ve collected it from our land.

        I’m actually recording what we’re eating each day in terms of what’s bought in or our own as part of the same exercise. So much of what we produce is eaten at some later stage that this is also proving encouraging. Perhaps it’s because we’re particularly skint at the moment so there is more incentive for me to go foraging in the garden or investigate all those jars I stash away for something ‘free’, but I’m sure the very act of writing it down is making me think more carefully about what I can do with what’s to hand rather than hitting the shops.

        Like

        Reply
  3. Sharon

     /  November 11, 2013

    Congratulations! Yields like that could even tempt me to try potatoes again 🙂
    Those dumpy bags look quite big. I’m curious what you do with the spent planting mix at the end of the season, just cycle their content back into your compost?

    Like

    Reply
    • The dumpy bags are about a metre square. I plant to plant squashes in them next year (with some additional material) and then transfer the contents to our raised beds the following year to get a sort of rotation going. I have been really blown away by the yields after so many years of not bothering with potatoes – they will certainly be a feature from now on.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply to The Snail of Happiness Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: