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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keeping Track of Your Harvests

by: ChiotsRun

When it comes to growing food for yourself, it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel like no matter how much you're growing it's not enough, particularly if you only have a small garden space. I often feel like I'm not growing as much as I could and if I could only be better at succession planting, or cold weather gardening I could provide even more of my food.

Last year I didn't keep track of our garden harvests, except for the tomatoes, so I have no idea how much of our food actually came from our garden. This year I've been keeping track in a spreadsheet system that I set up (it even has a bar graph that charts the totals of all the different kinds of vegetables). Keeping track of my harvests has really helped show me that even though I don't have much garden space, I'm still providing a lot of food for us. (If you would like to download the Garden Harvest Spreadsheet head over to my blog, the beautiful one pictures is a MAC program, but there's a less pretty Excel version as well)



I was very discouraged at the end of September. The weather cooled much earlier than normal which means that none of my fall crops will mature. I was thinking back over the month and I felt like I hadn't harvested hardly anything. So I sat down to write my monthly harvest totals blog post for my blog and much to my surprise, my September garden harvest totals were only 10 lbs less than my August totals. I was able to harvest 142 lbs of food from our gardens in the month of September.


After listing all of the things I harvested my spirits were lifted and I realized why it's important to keep track of the harvest. They not only remind me how much of a difference I can make by growing a little of my own food, but they help keep me motivated to garden despite setbacks because it helps me look at the big picture. This method works well for me, I'm at my computer a lot during the day since I work from home, so I always keep my Garden Harvest Spreadsheet open, when I head out to the garden to harvest, I come back in, weigh it and enter it into the spreadsheet.

Are you in the habit of keeping track of your garden harvests? If so, what method works for you?

9 comments:

Kate said...

142 pounds of produce in a month is pretty impressive, in my opinion. Our August and September totals were just below 80 pounds each. I've been making myself keep track of my harvest tally on the sidebar of my own blog. It does indeed help to see how much we're harvesting, even though I have nothing to compare it with for previous years. Next year of course, I'll be striving to better this year's tally month by month.

We've still got apples and potatoes, plus a few pumpkins to harvest, so this month ought to be a heavy tally. The parsnips, leeks, and a few coldframe veggies will trickle in over the remainder of the year and perhaps even early next year too.

Regina said...

Thanks for this suggestion. It will really help next year. I am also re-evaluating what we plant. This year was the shotgun approach and I got carried away by too many varieties and veggies that we didn't enjoy. I am making a list of the stuff we buy regularly at the Farmer's market and sticking to what we will actually eat.

el said...

That's great that you can share that spreadsheet, Suzy! I think it can be a great help for those who wish to take their gardens digital. It would really help one to figure out what happens year over year, too.

Frankly I don't keep track!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

I'm wondering what kind of scale you use to measure your produce. I've done some research, but always appreciate recommendations. Right now, I'm using a USPS postal scale and *definitely* need to consider an upgrade for next year. :-)

viggiesveggies said...

Thanks for sharing your spreadsheet. I do plan on tracking next year so it'll come in handy :)

Kimberly said...

I meant to track this year, but only weighed the last 80 lbs of tomatoes I pulled before the freeze last week. I have been amazed and humbled by all we were able to grow this year, only by His grace as the weather was so odd and our planting so late because of it. It was a bountiful backyard for sure. I have been tracking most of what I've canned though. Next year...

Anonymous said...

I make notes in my garden journal and take pictures. With a digital camera you get an instant date notation, plus lots of info on size, quality, quantity. I find taking pictures works both for inspiration and to help me remember.
EJ

Chiot's Run said...

I have an escali digital scale that I use in the kitchen and that's what I use for produce. The heavier things I weigh on my bathroom scale.

I also like taking photos as a journal.

I'm considering improving my spreadsheet next year with different tabs for the months, to make monthly totals easier.

Francesca said...

This is a very good idea. I've never kept track of my harvests, although I keep track of the produce I end up buying: next year I'll plan on using your spreadsheet, and focus more on what I'm producing instead of what I'm lacking! Thanks!