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A Statistical Masterpiece

Posted by kevinwolz on November 23, 2010

Wow, it’s been a while. This semester just flew by and quickly overburdened me as it went. But now, it’s fall break, and I’m doing my best to relax and catch up on sleep. I just returned from a day up in WI where I harvested the last few things out of the garden: butternut squash, acorn squash, and Brussels sprouts. The squash look great, with only one slightly frost damaged, and the sprouts should be extra sweet after a good hard frost last night. This final harvest ends the 2010 growing season for me, and I’ve wasted no time crunching the numbers. Here are the final stats for this season:

Garden Harvest Summary 2010

The left column is pretty basic. I’d say the biggest disappointments were the tomatoes (hail) and corn (Japanese beetles). Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with everything, especially the squash.

Now I know exactly how Pavlov's dogs felt.

The Potato Bucket yields were surprisingly good, and they were so fun to harvest! The “seed weight” is the weight of the small “seed” potato that was placed in the bottom of each bucket back in spring, and the harvest weight is…well, just what it says. The final column is the ratio of harvest to seed weights, which is how the potato industry typically measures efficiency. Conventional commercial potato farms usually hit somewhere between an 8:1 and 10:1 ratio. So I guess 6.7:1 isn’t to shabby for my first spud endeavor…in buckets. Don’t think I’m swimming potatoes though…5 pounds was enough for one (very tasty) dish that I brought to a potluck.

The number to really pay attention to is the 0.39 in the bottom right hand corner. This is the productivity of my garden in pounds of food per square foot. Now, 0.39 is pretty darn low. One Straw Rob can hit close to 1.0! But what can I say…hail, experimentation, wind,Sand, obviously, inexperience.

I have two different productivity sections because of the extra crops I had planted randomly outside of the “main” garden. If you just look at the pole beans I had climbing on the tree house, they were only occupying 6 square feet, but produced almost 21 pounds of beans: 3.4 lbs/sq ft! So, the beans, along with my semi-vertical cucumbers outside of the “main” garden contribute to the difference in productivities between the “main” and “whole” garden sections. Going vertical is one of the best ways to increase productivity!

Now, most of these numbers don’t really mean much after only one year of production, but, given time, they can paint a statistical masterpiece. Some may not agree, but I think graphs can truly be a work of art. They help us visualize the intangible, and I, for one, am quite the aficionado.

The graph that I aspire to produce several years from now will show how this spatial productivity changes over the years. Will it be linear? Exponential? Flatten out at a maximum value? Who knows?! I just hope the slope is positive…

I now know a ton more about growing food than I did back in spring, so my new knowledge, along with improved techniques, should continue to boost my productivity whenever and wherever I grow food in the future.

Happy Graphing and Happy Thanksgiving!

From the BIG harvest

 

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4 Responses to “A Statistical Masterpiece”

  1. onestraw said

    I’d say you did very well Kevin! 350#’s of food is a great first step and you should be proud! That 1#/sq ft is assuming rotational 8-9 month plantings and/or including a mix “heavy” crops such as squash, tomatoes, or potatoes. I use it as a good benchmark since an acre of mono-crop chemically fertilized/weeded potatoes will net 40,000#’s (acre = 43560sq ft).

    John Jeavons, master of bio-intensive gardening, could hit 400#’s of cukes from one of his 100 sq ft beds – and he still would have placed a spring and fall crop in; this season my son hit 9.3#’s from under 3 sq ft with his one potato plant.

    We have barely begun to (re)learn how to grow organically. I am so very pleased you have joined the quest!

  2. Joan said

    Congratulations, Kevin. It sonds like you had a GREAT harvest! Did you plant marigolds all around the garden to keep out the insects? Did it work? If you need any more seeds, I have a gazillion Monticello Marigold seeds if you want them. Your pumpkins look great, too! How were the pumpkin pies?

    Happy Thanksgiving, Kevin.

    GB

  3. Roger said

    Kevin, congrats on a great harvest. In all my years of gardening I have never weighed or done any numbers. I think I will try that next year. Have a great trip. Rog

  4. Karen Wolz said

    We enjoyed the garden experience too! Learning a lot along the way….directly from you and some aspects we learned together. Good family team effort, with you at the lead. The harvested food was wonderful and delicious. Thanks Kevin for all your enthusiasm, time and dedication to the garden! Mom & Dad

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