A Year in the Garden: One Ton of Fresh Food

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And why I’m not weighing harvests ever again…

Ton of Food from Backyard

This month, Mother of a Hubbard passes a milestone — a year of sharing my four-season gardening adventures with you. The time has flown, and to recap some of the highlights, I’ll be sharing my favorite garden experiences in the next four posts, organized by season. There will be photos, videos, harvest totals, and stories — my favorites from this past year’s fall, winter, spring, and summer. I hope you’ll come visit and reminisce with me.

If you’ve spent time here, you know that I’ve been on a mission to grow as much food for my family as I can, not only because it just tastes better and is healthier, but also because it is extra-insurance for the health of my family members with celiac disease. No need to worry about gluten cross-contamination in the foods that we harvest from our garden, and it is MUCH less expensive than buying certified gluten-free foods. In some ways, my family’s extreme sensitivity to trace gluten in foods has been a blessing — it certainly has made us think more about the foods we consume, and we are all healthier, celiac or not, as a result. Of course, it also gives me a rational excuse to pursue my gardening obsession, which admittedly sometimes gets a little out of hand.

"But sweetheart, we NEED 50 vegetable varieties in the winter garden to keep you healthy!"

“But sweetheart, we NEED 50 vegetable varieties in the winter garden to keep you healthy!”

When I launched the blog, I announced my confidence that we could easily grow a ton of fresh food in a year. We had done so, after all, when we took the time to weigh our harvests in 2010. At that time, we weren’t even gardening through winter.

How did we make out? From November 1, 2012, to November 1, 2013, we grew 1,984 pounds of produce — just shy of a ton! A ton of produce from edible landscaping and a backyard garden that is less than one-tenth of an acre. Wow!

I’m not sharing these figures to brag (well, maybe just a little since it did entail quite a bit of hard work). My goal in this blog has ALWAYS been to share and educate — I want to change the perception that it requires a lot of land to grow your own food, or that you can’t have fresh garden foods in winter. In this tiny backyard, we grow the majority of food that we consume and then some, spring through winter — having enough to share with friends and even sell. And hubby and I both work full-time. And we have two kids.

If you’re inspired and have a little bit of land (or a balcony!), I’m confident that you can do it too!

 

No More Harvest Totals

I’m done with harvest totals, by the way. Don’t get me wrong — it’s been fun keeping track of how much we’ve grown from our backyard. It feels great to announce that you’ve grown over 250 pounds of fresh produce in winter, or over 600 pounds of squash in a season. But it just takes so much time to do it — get out the scale, find the harvest log, jot down the entry (or jot it down on a scrap piece of paper that is subsequently misplaced) — you get the idea. And you have to REMEMBER to weigh the harvest (I can’t tell you how many times I forgot in my hurry to get supper on the table)!

What’s more, it’s easy to lose sight of the main reason you’re growing your own food in the first place when you’ve got your eyes on harvest figures all of the time. I’ll admit, when I finally tallied all of the numbers from the harvest log, I was a little sad that we didn’t exactly reach a ton. Maybe if I hadn’t allowed us to eat in the garden as we harvested. Maybe if I hadn’t put a quarter of the garden in cover-crop during the summer (we could have really broken records with that planted in watermelons and huge winter squash). Maybe if I’d just let those zucchini get bigger and heavier, rather than picking them when they were small and tender.

Ridiculous thinking, right? Growing our own food is more than numbers. It’s memories of the delight (and berry juice) on my daughters’ faces as they picked strawberries with me. It’s about feeding the soil that feeds us by giving it a rest with cover crops when needed. It’s about growing for TASTE, not quantity. It’s about the improved health — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — that comes from growing your own food.

So, no more harvest totals for me. I know I can do it — so can you. Let’s get growing!

 

Looking down at the garden on November 11, 2013 -- with a sigh of relief that I won't have to weigh any of it!

Looking down at the garden on November 11, 2013 — with a sigh of relief that I won’t have to weigh any of it!

 

 

 

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