Saturday, February 04, 2012

Harvest log update, February 2012

I've updated the harvest log website. I haven't posted about the harvest log since last April. Some unorganized thoughts follow:

  • Our average daily calorie harvest hasn't changed much, still right about 670 calories per day. We still have perhaps 10-20 pounds of honey and maybe 3 pounds of fennel seed which we harvested but haven't weighed and entered into the database yet, which will boost the calories.
  • We've been harvesting fewer ounces of food per day than before, but with similar total calories, meaning we're harvesting more calorie crop - mostly a result of increased honey and egg harvest.
  • None of the fruit trees we've planted yielded last year, except the medlar in heavy shade with a little over 2 pounds of fruit. We did get twice as many cherries from our front yard seedling cherry as we did the previous year. We were a bit surprised and disappointed that the persimmon tree which gave 8 1/2 pounds in 2010 didn't yield in 2011. Our region had poor fruit harvests in general due to weather causing poor pollination. Hopefully this year the fruit trees will really start to produce, after 5 years in the ground!
  • Great yield from our goumi, which gave 12 1/2 pounds.
  • Much better yield from the strawberry patch, which gave 17 pounds in 2011 compared to 6 in 2010. Probably because Tulsey thinned out the plants in winter of 2010/11. The patch is about 80 square feet.
  • Bad raspberry year (11 pounds compared to 31 in 2010), as most of the plants in our original planting died (probably from root rot or some other disease), plus we didn't water the living patches enough to get a good fall harvest.
  • Our english walnut and two or three of our four hazels set some nuts, but all were taken by squirrels and jays. Unfortunately, we didn't eat any squirrels from the yard this year to offset that loss. We did get one tiny chestnut!
  • Our harvest of greens dropped off a lot last year, partly because we were wrapped up in the house project, and partly because we didn't irrigate much in summer and the greens suffered a lot.
  • Fairly large garlic harvest last year, of 18 pounds. (Shallots were a near total failure.) I'd like to see that tripled next year.
  • Sunchoke harvest has dropped by 50% due to making fewer fires, greatly affecting the winter calorie harvest. I think I'm going to break down and just use our gas stove and a sleeping bag (to act as a "haybox") to start cooking the sunchokes.
  • We approximately doubled our fennel seed harvest, to 5 pounds. Very successful calorie crop.
  • More eggs this past year, as the hens we purchased in May 2010 laid heavily from December 2010 through November 2011 before slowing down. We've had a larger flock than would be at all sustainable for this yard, and have been gradually culling the flock for ongoing meat harvest.
  • Harvesting a lot more nettles this winter season than last year. Delicious!
  • Light skirret harvest this year. I think last year I harvested a bunch of plants that had been in the ground 2 or 3 years and got very big, then replanted those crowns. I didn't water the skirret much this past season, and many of them grew in part to full shade. I harvested almost all those plants this winter as 1 year old, relatively scrawny roots. Definitely better to get some sort of multi-year mixture going so you can always harvest older plants.
  • Light mashua & yacon harvests this year, again because of lack of water. Almost all the mashua plants died down in the summer; I didn't expect any roots from them at all, and was pleasantly surprised at how many we did get considering how sad they were.
  • Good oca harvest this year! Two patches did poorly (lack of water again); one patch to the north of one of our persimmon trees in polyculture with yellow asphodel & lily did very well.
  • Nice teaser autumn olive and grape harvests! Neither huge, but larger than the few dozen berries or grapes from last year.
  • Pretty good potato harvest, though still not as good as I'd have liked - lack of water stunted or killed many plants.
  • We ate lots of fuki stalk, and sold or gave away several divisions, barely managing to keep the growth of the patch in check. Great vigorous perennial vegetable.
  • So far our asparagus is a very poorly yielding crop in terms of calories per space it takes up--only 280 calories from maybe 10 plants using maybe 30 square feet? Our solomon's seal gave 2/3 the calories from a similar area but growing in heavy shade on the north wall of our house, under timber bamboo, with lungwort, lovage, and wood sorrel in there as well. And we didn't even harvest as much of the solomon's seal as we could have.


evergreen violent canadian said...

I "feel" that you "need" to put in a lot more time and specificity in your posts and weigh not only your greens, roots, and animal products but your EXPERIENCES too. Plus, what is INULIN? Is this like the flatulent person's insulin?

Norris said...

Dear Crazy Canuck,

Yes, I'm horribly remiss in covering the big picture learnings of our experiences over the years, and in detailing many of the specific bits and pieces. I'll see what I can do to keep you from mocking me further.

You can read a bit more about inulin at:


Steven Gubkin said...

Do you have any estimates about how many calories you will be getting out of your yard once the fruit and nut trees are mature? Is it possible that you could feed yourself completely out of the yard in 5 or 6 years once the trees are really producing?

p.s. Thanks so much for writing this blog! I have been converting my backyard and a neighboring lot into an edible food forest for the past 2 years or so, and this blog is just blowing my mind!

Norris said...

Hi Steven,

If you haven't seen it yet, you might enjoy reading through the PDF presentation "Self Sufficiency, Five Years In". My best guess is that *maybe* you could feed one person a balanced diet (including a good amount of protein and fat from animal products & nuts) from the property, if you got more systems in place optimized things and had consistently good yields year after year.

My guesses on future, mature fruit & nut & berry production:

●Fruit trees may yield ~350 lbs/year
●Berries may yield ~200 lbs/year
●Walnuts & filberts may yield ~80 lbs, chestnuts 10 lbs/year

Glad the blog is interesting & useful to you!

Steven Gubkin said...

The pdf appears to be missing.

Norris said...

Oops, thanks for letting me know! I corrected the link with the new PDF Location. Let me know if you still have any problems.

Steven Gubkin said...

Awesome. Quite inspiring. Has really made me reconsider the idea that I could grow all my own food on my city lot. Thanks for saving me years of effort! I don't think I could move to Hawaii though - couldn't bear to give up pawpaws (they can dominant large stretches of metropark where I live). Might have to think about converting some farmland into a forest farm!

p.s. not sure if you have thought about multiuse coppice - mulberries produce berries and high protein leaves for rabbits, in addition to wood.

Anonymous said...

After reading your post on fuki I've been anxious to get my hands on some but can't seem to find a source of transplants. Do you still sell it or know of a local (PDX) source?


Norris said...

Yeah, I've loved the few pawpaws I've tasted here. But Hawaii has cherimoya & rollinia and similar related plants to keep me happy.

I finally planted a mulberry last year, and was also experimenting with autumn olive and black locust as coppiced wood with other products. Didn't stay at the house long enough to learn much about the long term cycles, though.

Norris said...

Hi Josh,

Sorry, I no longer have fuki for sale. I've seen it planted as an ornamental in yards, so I assume it's not too uncommon. Maybe ask at Portland Nursery. Sorry I can't give you anything more specific,