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Urban Food Forest Garden Yields, Two Years In

Here are the final figures for the garden yields for the period of Oct 2009 – Oct 2010, the garden’s second year.

The annual production for this first year was 202kg, up 71kg from last years 131kg. The total garden bed area is 686 sq. feet (64 sq. metres).

The average monthly amount of produce was just over 15kg, up 5kg per month from last years 10kg.

Here are some statistics which break this down further:

Garden yield figures for 2009

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

The only anomalies are the “low-spots” in July and September, this is what happens when you forget to plant your seasonal annuals!

If we look at the monthly production figures:

MonthYield (grams) (2008-2009)Yield (grams) (2009-2010)
Monthly Average10,936 15,909

Where there are decreases in yield for the month, it’s mainly due to my forgetfulness to put in annual seedlings, harvest annuals before they went to seed, and another big one, forgetting to harvest a whole harvest of potatoes – I get around two harvests a year. I just left the potatoes in the soil and they sprouted once again, by then it was too late…

Even with human error, the garden still remains highly productive, and significantly more so than before. Like I mentioned, annuals are the source of most of the work in any garden, hence my preference for perennials. Since my garden is a demonstration Permaculture garden, I run many garden tours, and I’ve had hundreds of people come and visit in the last two years. One of the strangest observations I’ve had often is “I can’t see much/any vegetables!” I produce more vegies than most urban gardens, but because I use an over-stacked food forest design, there aren’t neat rows of any vegetables anywhere, and not surprisingly, I don’t have pest problems or crop rotation problems with any vegetables, just the occasional scale on the citrus trees thanks to the ants farming them, putting them there and protecting them!

The most amusing comment I’ve had to this website was from a gentleman looking at the pictures and commenting “even though your garden is mainly ornamental…). I thanked him for what I saw as a great compliment, he was suggesting that the garden was aesthetically pleasing to look at, wow, how great, it grows that way mainly on its own! I did promptly remind him that it’s really a food garden though! So there you go, it works well, looks great, and produces lots of food. Permaculture proof of concept, you betcha!

If we break down the figures by type of produce (fruits, vegetables and berries), we can see the how much productivity we got in each of these categories.

FruitYield (g)
apple (granny smith)854
apple (pink lady)1,360
cherry guava74
grapes (sultana)8,763
total 127,723
last years total 53,636

This year, fruit production increased by 71%. This increase is expected, as the backyard orchard, which is very young, matures enough to start producing fruit. Over 70% of the fruit trees in the garden have yet to bear any fruit, due to their age, 2 years or younger. Over the next three years, all of the trees will be producing, and the expected yields will be significantly higher across all trees as the years progress.

BerriesYield (g)
goji berry50
raspberry (large)215
total 4,021
last years total 2,584

The performance of the berries has been outstanding this year, yields have increased by 56%. This year I also added a few more berries in the garden – youngberries, thornless blackberries, loganberries, thornless gooseberries, black currants, red currants and golden currants. With this many additional varieties of berries, it’s going to be berry self-sufficiency.

VegetablesYield (g)
beans (climbing)2,193
broad beans15,775
chilli (jalepeno)273
french sorrel288
jerusalem artichoke6,580
kale (western front)180
perpetual spinach52
potato (desiree)1,093
potato (kipfler)792
potato (red rascal)2,346
potato (russet burbank)7,439
red dandelion chicory66
total 70,231
last years total 75,052

This year I actually got 5kg less vegetables than the year before, as I forgot some of my annual planting, though whichever way you look at it, 70kg of vegetables from a 64 square metre garden is a pretty good!

Incidentally, if some of the yields look absurdly low, like 52g of perpetual spinach or 152g of parsley, that’s because that’sall that was harvested, there was kilos of the stuff, but if it wasn’t harvested, or if it ends up being composted or going to seed, it doesn’t get counted. The garden actually produced a heap more leafy greens than the statistics indicate, they just weren’t used, and therefore not part of the harvest figures.

To get some perspective on these yield statistics, we see that production is commonly measured in terms of yield/acre.

Now, if we look at my garden, still in its infancy at two years of age, its production is:

To convert this to acres, we do dome simple maths: 4047/64 = 63.23 (so you can squeeze approximately 63 of my whole gardens into one acre!)
Now, a bit more math to get the yield per acre: 202×63.23 = 12,773kg/acre

So, my 2 year old fledgling garden that is just getting started is producing the equivalent of 12,773kg/acre, in other words, close to 12.77 metric tonnes per acre!

I’m looking forward to seeing how high I can get production – remembering it’s all organic, no pesticide other than a rare use of organic neem horticultural soap or white oil, and no fertilizer other than the compost and worm casting liquid, and the rare donation of a small bag of manure that I get when I give people free plants.

For the next twelve month’s I’ll just publish the harvest figures month by month, I’ve become quite accustomed to weighing almost everything coming out of the garden over the last two years!

Now I’ve filled this garden, and I have no more space left, I’ve started working on other people’s gardens, and some community garden projects, so I might publish some of those projects too, for it can’t always be about my garden!

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