Thursday, April 14, 2011

Harvest log - one full year

We've just completed one full year of weighing and recording everything we harvest from the yard. I've uploaded a snapshot of the one year harvest so it's archived even as I update the regular harvest log. We harvested on average each day two pounds of food, providing 675 calories. As far as our goal of self sufficiency is concerned, that means we could choose between feeding less than half of Tulsi (who requires 1500 calories per day) or barely feed one third of me (2000 per day).

I last blogged about the harvest log in September. Since then, we've harvested fall and winter root crops of 105 pounds of jerusalem artichokes, 15 pounds of skirret, 15 pounds of mashua, 2 delicious pounds of lilies, 10 pounds of yacon, and a few other miscellaneous species, for about 170 pounds total.

We harvested 70 pounds of tomatoes since September. We had a first-time harvest of 8 pounds 11 ounces of Jiro persimmons, our largest crop of fruit yet from any of the trees we've planted.

We harvested 2.5 pounds of fennel seed, the equivalent calorie-wise of 25 pounds of greens.

Harvest of greens dropped dramatically with the hard winter freezes, both because we had fewer leaves available, and because I don't enjoy picking them in cold rainy weather with freezing fingers. We picked up again in March with the return of milder weather making happier plants and people.

Egg harvest slowed similarly with the onset of cold weather, as our older hens quit laying. Our new batch of four chicks (purchased in late May I believe) started laying in December, and we've had an average of a little over 3 eggs per day over the last four and a half months, with egg laying accelerating with the spring. (I guess it makes chickens happier, too.)

I've killed four chickens since September, all older hens we received last summer from some folks who were replacing them with a new flock but didn't have the heart to kill them themselves. (These have all been difficult for me, since they've been my first non-mercy killings of healthy and happy animals.)

We harvested 26 pounds of honey (about 3 gallons) a week ago, which gave a huge increase to our calories, taking us from 575 to 675 calories per day on average for the year. As with the other animal products (eggs and meat), this harvest represents a certain amount of imported resources from off-site, since the bees forage from all around the neighborhood to make their concentrated sweetness.

I won't go into great detail analyzing the calorie breakdowns, since I haven't gotten any comments asking for elaboration in the past, and you can take a look at all the data yourself. I'll just note that the vast majority of our harvested calories this year have come from animal products (eggs 25%, honey 15%, meat 6.5%) and roots (jerusalem artichokes 15%, all others combined 13.5%). Greens provided 10%, which speaks to the large quantities we've eaten since they don't actually provide very many calories per pound. Fruits and berries combined provided 9.5%. Seeds, shoots & stalks, flowers & buds, mushrooms, and squash provided relatively few calories.

We don't expect to be here more than a few months longer, so we probably won't get to see how the harvests of fruit and nuts turn out. If successful, they'll add a lot to the calories harvested. We'll keep recording the data as long as we're around, and I expect to resume similar tracking once we move to a new homestead in a year or two, since this has helped me a lot to figure out how much of what we actually eat, what we're lacking, etc.


Jade said...

I enjoy and study every one of your posts. We'll miss you here in Portland. I hope you continue blogging after you move!


Terese said...

Hi Norris, Your posts make for some very thought-provoking reading. Thank you for sharing your experiences and reflections. I look forward to checking out your Portland property soon.

Terese (from frisbee)

Anonymous said...

Hi Norris we saw your presentation with Solar Oregon tonight. Very impressive - we thought we were the most hardcore energy-conserving edible plant raising couple in portland but you beat us by 3x. We have ultra high efficiency heat pump, heat pump hot water heater, 2100 watt solar PV system, greywater on our shower, dishwasher, and clotheswasher, humanure system, and R55 attic insulation, we would love to buy you dinner sometime - give me an email - check out my not-super organized website -

Dr. Edwin Holmes

Norris said...

Hi Jade, Terese, and Edwin,

Thanks for your encouraging comments! I do intend to keep blogging in Hawaii, but I expect it'll take a few years before I gain enough useful knowledge to justify writing serious posts. (I don't like fluffy posts like "we got chickens and they're cute") But I definitely have a large backlog of experience here which will take me quite some time to write up, so that'll keep me busy for a while!

Once we actually purchase land, I want to document the process of starting from scratch and implementing food systems to feed 10 people, so I'll try to make ongoing useful write-ups about that.