Urban Food Forest Garden Yields, One Year In

garden yield graph 2008

Here are the annual figures for the garden yields for the period of Oct 2008 – Oct 2009, the garden’s first year.

The annual production for this garden was:

  • first year: 133 kg

The total garden bed area is 686 sq. feet (64 sq. metres).

The average monthly amount of produce was just over 10 kg.

Here are some statistics which break this down further:

garden yield graph 2008
Garden yield figures for 2008

This graph is colour-coded for season – yellow (summer), orange (autumn), brown (winter) and green (spring).

MonthYield (g)
Jan22,203
Feb10,860
Mar11,018
Apr3,748
May15,566
Jun11,251
Jul14,341
Aug4,128
Sep11,155
Oct11,252
Nov6,149
Dec9,556
Monthly Average10,936

Now that we’ve seen what happened through each month of the year, it is important to see what was actually produced.

Below is a breakdown of the annual harvest by category:

FruitYield (g)
apples (pink lady)211
apricots7,360
babaco7,557
figs407
grapes (sultana)3,306
mandarin23,500
mandarin (small)5,320
nectarine594
orange (navelina)573
orange (valencia)515
peaches189
pepino1,578
pomegranate2,526
 53,636
BerriesYield (g)
raspberry800
raspberry (large)178
strawberry1,414
blackcurrants4
blueberry20
mulberry168
 2,584
Vegetables Yield (g)
asparagus422
beetroot1,397
bitter melon214
broad beans12,173
carrot3,760
celery5,598
chilli271
chives15
climbing beans3,426
cucumber998
duck potato (Sagittaria sagittifolia)820
garlic56
globe artichokes1,372
kangkong (water spinach)249
lemongrass122
lettuce2,719
parsley925
peas80
potato (desiree)6,805
potato (kestrel)1,388
potato (kipfler)9,865
potato (red rascal)934
potato (russet burbank)5,925
radish946
silverbeet65
snow pea949
spinach99
spinach (perpetual)247
sweet corn539
tomato9,864
zucchini2,809
 75,052

So, it can be clearly seen that the 131kg of produce consisted of approximately:

  • 53.5 kg of fruit,
  • 2.5kg of berries
  • 75kg of vegetables/other  (potatoes making up 25kg of this)

The important point which I have previously stressed is that all production was not necessarily accounted for here, so these figures are a bit on the conservative side, and I have chosen to err on the side of underestimating yield.

  • Food was eaten from the garden on many occasions (in my absence!) and not weighed on several occasions
  • Produce that was dried for seed (beans, peas, cucurbits, etc) was not included
  • Herbs were not included
  • Seeds, propagated or surplus plants that I gave away, of which there was a very high volume, were not included

It can be seen from the 50 odd kilograms of fruit produced, that generally only small amounts were produced from a small variety of trees.

The only mature trees are the mandarine and pomegranate, and the latter was having a low yield year. The mature apricot tree was on its way out due to neglect before I got to it, and had to be cut down and mulched mid season. I replaced it with a very young tree. There are now 25 fruit trees in the garden, it is in reality a backyard permaculture orchard. Of these trees, most are still maturing and have a few years to go, and there are about 13 trees that are yet to bear their first fruit. Once they mature, we’ll se more of the true potential of the garden.

The  main point is that all the plants went into the ground from pots 12 months ago, and are still settling in and growing to size.

What is obvious from this whole exercise is that gardens do take time to establish, orchards even longer, and the process of experimenting to determine what works best where is ongoing, and it takes some time to figure it all out.

Additionally, I’m replacing as many annual edible plants with perennials, so it’s all still work in progress.

I’ll continue developing and refining this garden within the limited space of an urban backyard that I have to work with. My aim is to see how much a I can ultimately produce from an urban permaculture garden sustainably, while benefiting the plant and animal life, as well as the community.

So, where to from here? Well, hopefully to an even bigger and better year in the garden!

9 Comments

  1. Eugen says:

    Thanks for the great adventure and story of your gardening, its very inspiring to see your great yields and health of the garden.

    1. Blackthorn says:

      You’re welcome!

      There are always more articles coming too, hope you enjoy them.

      Regards

  2. dave says:

    Very impressive website. It’s also refreshing to see hard facts and stats to see how someone really is getting along. This article is top class. Happy eating!

  3. Ronald says:

    Cool stuff. Have you tried including the roof also for gardening? I have seen that there is some walls also open. Maybe trying the living wall concept. More space that can be used. The blog is very inspiring. Great Work

    1. Blackthorn says:

      Hi Ronald,

      I would like to try the roof! I’m using some of the walls, I have grapes across one wall, another wall has hops, chockos and youngberries along it. It’s all perfectly good vertical space to grow things on.
      Thanks for your comments!

      Regards

  4. Bob says:

    “I remember the words of one of my Permaculture teachers, Geoff Lawton no plants are speciated for evil, they are Pioneer Plants, think of them as hard working immigrants If the plants natural traits for survival are an issue for you, you can always use sterile varieties of Cytisus that are specifically bred and grown as ornamentals.”
    Exactly why Permaculture as practiced in the US is a failed methodology. Bill Mollison would not be proud of that statement. You should know better. There is no way to verify the sterility of Cytisus. Are you a part of the solution, or part of the problem? Why not use the native clovers for nitrogen fixation? Peace out.

    1. Blackthorn says:

      Hi Bob, Apologies, not sure I follow the message you’re conveying. Permaculture failed in the US? Who’s mentioning sterile varieties of Cytisus, I don’t understand who you’re quoting in each sentence.
      In regards to Cytisus, fourth year and no self-seeding with a good, thick ground cover and mulch. Why not use native clovers for nitrogen fixing you ask? No need, they are already growing there themselves as part of the ground cover, having the tall shrub creates the over-stacked design. You can stack your companion plants too, that’s how Nature grows them.

  5. Katharine says:

    I have been devouring all your info and really enjoying the photos. Excuse me if you have already put it on your site but could you give me your climate details, mean temperatures and rainfall etc. I live in central France so many plants will be unsuitable (-15) sometimes, but I remain convinced that with this system I could grow so much more. You are trully an inspiration! All the best Katharine

  6. John Booth says:

    A better way to grow Babaco is to let ONE side shoot grow from the bottom then stop the main growth at six feet pick fruit as it ripens then cut the main shoot into one foot lengths and plant deep this will give you as many plants as you will ever need. The side shoot now becomes the main growth for the next crop.

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