Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Garden Experiment

I have become a bit obsessed with my garden.  I am an amateur gardener, who has dedicated a significant portion of our yard to try and grow food that I love and food that is just plain better fresh. There is just nothing better than fresh asparagus or always having a salad available in the back yard.  Oh and did I mention Blueberries!

In the past 5 years I have had mixed results with various items so this year I decided to actually document everything that goes into it.  I by no means know what I am doing out in the dirt, I have a couple of garden books and do a bunch of reading but as I said I have historically gotten mixed results.  This year is no different, for instance I am on my third round of trying to get beet seeds to germinate, go figure with this weather!  So hopefully this data not only helps me understand what to continue and what efforts are futile, but also gives others hope for their 50'x100' lots in Portland.

I will try to post updates on the periodically in order to spare social media the daily photo update of my garden haul, although I will not guarantee that still won't happen.  Below is the summary that I will update monthly followed by way too much other information into the exact detail and results.

The garden itself is primarily in the boarders of our yard, the majority in the back with moderate to good sunlight.  I have 32 square feet of raised beds and 430 square feet of my yard planted with edibles which is 12 percent overall of our yard.  No irrigation system so it is all old fashioned watering, which I find rather therapeutic to be honest.  Our soil is a pretty solid clay which definitely requires significant amending where I plant anything.

The prize of the garden are the perennial plants or vegetables, but additionally we plant the raised beds and every available square foot with annual crops either from starts indoors or from seed outside.  When that fails however I am definitely not above buying starts from the nursery.

Currently at the end of may the asparagus harvest is just coming to an end.  Strawberries are kicking up and blueberries have just turned purple for the early varieties.  Similarly salad greens and items in the raised beds are just maturing and starting harvest.

To date top performer is definitely Asparagus, in a value/SF and weight category.  The ultimate metric used to evaluate performance is value (store price) minus cost per square foot. Sound complicated?  essentially it is the profit per square foot if I were selling the food.  Below is the list of anything that is actually not negative:

Asparagus $1.18/SF
Rhubarb $0.68/SF
Arugula $0.67/SF
Artichoke $0.60/SF
Lettuce $0.21/SF
Snap Peas $0.11/SF

Everything else is costing money!  But it is still early in the season. I have high hopes for my blueberries and tomato crop.

All of this however is preempted by the fact that really a backyard garden is priceless.  Nothing makes us happier than watching our 2 year old eating strawberries, blueberries, and even green beans right off the bush.  That crop is priceless!

Here are a few more photos of the crop to date.


Asparagus.  The 5 years of waiting has finally paid off!

Snap Peas.  They rarely make it inside.
Berries are sweeter than store bought.

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