Reflection: 2020 Garden Harvest

banner - 2020 harvest report

2020 was my first real year of garden production aside from the few strawberries and heads of romaine I grew in 2019. When I started out in 2020, my goal was to record and track my garden imputes and outputs to use for a possible portfolio project to get into a bachelor’s program. That was a joke. Me doing 4 additional years of school, not the garden tracker. As the year developed, my attitude toward the project evolved from a professional standing to a general garden journal to keep track of what I planted, where I planted, how much I planted, what I harvested, and what did and didn’t work for me. It definitely falls into one of my more prized possessions at this point.

A shot of the first page of my harvest data in my garden journal

The harvest data that I collected in this format was all transcribed into a Google sheets document with formulas and all sorts of important information so that I could take all the items harvested, apply a dollar amount to it, and using that data to determine the success or failure of my year. I will get more into my record keeping and how I do it in another post.

10 dirty, just pulled radishes sitting in a sink
My first radish harvest!!

The first thing I planted in my brand new garden plot in 2020 was radishes and I transplanted my chives into the bed. One of the first things I learned when planting was that I did not need to plant 2+ seeds per hole for my radishes as my germination rate was excellent. I also learned that the spacing I had understood (which was each square foot could take 2 rows of 6) was something I didn’t really have to care for. I now plant my radishes in 3 rows of 5 in 1 square foot. Anyway, when looking at my harvest records, radishes were my first 2021 harvest, pulling 10 out of the ground on April 23rd (to note here, I planted 29 seeds and only got 10 radishes out. That means I had to kill 2/3 of my seedlings because every. one. of. my. seeds. took. Looking back, this makes me pretty irate.

Germination Rate

The percentage of planted seeds that develop into seedlings
A radish which has gone to seed, pulled from the ground and cut open to reveal that it is hollow with what appear to be roots inside of the cavity
Did you know if you let a radish go to seed, this is what the inside of it ends up looking like? I had no idea, I still don’t know why, and I am still weirded out by it.

So the radishes were planted for Jim (husband man) as he likes them to snack. This season they will also be planted for Cecilia (daughter person) as she’s just as weird as Jim and loved snacking on them this past year. I did a number of radish planting throughout the 2020 season, and ultimately I ended up harvesting 64 radishes in total; not bad for a $2.30 pack of seeds. Also not bad? I let three radishes go to seed and I ended up with more radish seeds for this year than I can count. I will be planting more in 2021 as Jim and Cecilia can go through 20/week if I let them. My goal is 1 square foot a week.

I want to point out here that when purchasing radishes from the store, they sell them in bunches of around 10 roots, for a cost of around $1.48/bunch (in season). With this in mind, I grew almost $`10 worth of radishes in 2020, which means after 25% of my crop was harvested (or approximately 16 radishes) the rest were all profit! Putting my harvest into numbers like these really helped me to feel accomplished and satisfied with my growing.

A number of emerged basil cotyledons before their first true leaves emerge, in a pot
My little basil seedlings that I ended up killing

Looking at all the produced harvested from my garden in 2020 and my hand dandy spreadsheets, my most successful crop of all was basil, grossing approximately $140 worth of produce in the one year, which is nuts. I bought a total of three basil plants (I can’t seem to get a good start going from seed) and ended the year with more than 12 basil plants. The plants cost me around $3.60 for all three, which means I “made a profit” of $136.40 on my frickin’ basil. THAT IS NUTSO BANANAS! Like I can’t comprehend nuts. You’ll note in the image below that I count basil per pack; this is the amount in one small package that I would normally purchase at Superstore, and I did this measurement by using a pack I had from the last time I had purchased a herb there, and putting as much basil in there as they do. I probably put more in, because it was easier with the sheer amount I was harvesting, but it worked as a general measurement as weight was not a good indicator for how much basil I was usually harvesting.

Another crop that did particularly well was peas! In 2020 I planted 6 (yes, only 6) pea plants and my yield was about 12lbs of peas. And this didn’t include the peas I sent to seed or the ones my loving husband and daughter stole off of my plant when I wasn’t looking or measuring. So from each plant I got a full two pounds of produce. Nuts.

one year old picking cherry tomatoes off a plant in a pot
The offending tomato theif in action.

My plants that didn’t do very well were my tomatoes (I planted too late, I didn’t give them proper care, and so many other things went wrong here, including a short and cute tomato thief) and I only ended up yielding cherry tomatoes, and only like 4 lbs. from the 6 plans I had. I can do better.

Looking at squashes, I yielded 37 lbs. from my cucumbers and 56 lbs. from my pumpkins, though I did only get three pumpkins total.

1.5 year old sitting with a large pumpkin in front of a white door. Child has her hand on the pumpkin stem
Cecilia weighed only 3 lbs more than this big guy.

The last crop that did particularly well was my mints, though I did do a fairly big harvest part way through the year and decimated the plant. This year I will not be doing that and hopefully harvesting far more so that I can dry it out for tea. Jim’s favorite outcome from this year’s garden was probably the tea (thank you, dehydrator)!

What I got out of this year (aside from my excellent yield which totaled $642.11 when converted into grocery store prices) was reassurance that I can grow things, I do not have killing hands, and with a little bit of patience, anyone can grow. I will be applying everything that I learned and retained to my garden this year, and I am low-key hoping that my bountiful garden full of edible annuals, beautifully arranged as landscaping, will piss off the nosey neighbor that neigh-sayed my weird front yard pumpkin patch this past year. Because I’m just that kind of person, I guess.

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