Monday, November 26, 2012

And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose / My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The regular growing season for 2012 has ended. We have pulled up and composted our spent tomato bushes and mulched our raised beds with straw. We have sharpened the blades of our clippers and filed nicks out of the edges of our shovels. We have buried our fig trees and moved our collection of seed packets to a warm and dry place.

We plan to extend this year’s growing season into winter by means of hoophouses. Before we embark on that new endeavor, we should consider what transpired this regular growing season (pun intended). So, fortified with a dram or two of Lagavulin and a tweaked Excel spreadsheet, let us take the measure of the last year.

First, we should celebrate that we can now again describe ourselves unequivocally as a half-ton garden. Ginkgo’s yield for 2012 was 1082 pounds.

The following table summarizes garden yields by crop for each year from 2008 to 2012. Pertinent information for the 2012 harvest includes:
  • We planted okra for the first time this year. Unfortunately, we harvested less than 5 pounds from a full bed. We suspect that the plant was attacked by fusarium wilt. 
  • We had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. With a yield of 539 pounds, tomatoes composed half of the produce that we delivered to the pantry in 2012. 
  • At the request of Vital Bridges, we grew a lot of radishes this year—nearly 50 pounds worth.
  • Our apple trees did well this year (59 pounds), and our larger fig tree matured enough to produce almost 24 pounds of fruit. Our Stanley plum tree, on the other hand, produced almost no fruit for the second year in a row. The tree gave 63 pounds of plums in 2009. Our pear trees also yielded less than their normal amount. 

Next is a chart of yield curves that show weekly and cumulative harvest amounts for the years from 2008-2012. Each year has both a bar chart for weekly yield and a line chart that shows the cumulative yield per week. The third chart shows the same data, but just with the weekly yields.

Weekly and Cumulative Yields

Weekly Yields

The next chart focuses on the weekly yields for tomatoes, our largest crop by volume. Although it is true that we planted a lot of tomato plants this year, we also benefited from a season that both started earlier and ended later. Because tomatoes are warm-weather crops, the fact that we were able to harvest tomatoes earlier this year could have been a result of climate change. Or it could be because of the particular varieties of tomatoes that we planted, short-term climate changes related to El Niño, timing of rainfall, etc. 

Tomato Yields

The final set of charts describes how our harvests vary by crop per year. The first chart shows the actual harvest composition; the second shows crop composition by percentage of the total. Note how the tomatoes jumped from being around 30% of the total harvest to 50%. The last chart compares fruit harvests.

Vegetable Crop Composition

Vegetable Crop Composition as Percentage of Total

Fruit Crop Composition