So, how did American Grandpa do on his 1/100th Acre Farm last year? I’ve evaluated my experience and made some decisions about this season.
Was the farm productive?
Productivity was both good and bad. My tomatoes, peas and beans produced abundantly, the vine plants did not. The potato barrel experiment was disappointing, but my green peppers did much better than I expected.
I had a challenge with yields. You can only eat, salsa and give away so many tomatoes. On the other hand, I would have enjoyed more peas and more than one watermelon.
I put in a lot of time, money and effort for a modest return. Gardening produced more health benefits than actual produce, but it would be nice to have both.
Did I enjoy myself?
After I made easy accommodations for my mobility problems, I had a great time!
Gardening forced me to get up and outside everyday – before the sun got too high and hot. The exercise helped with my RA, energy level and attitude.
It felt good to be productive and the farm was a good conversation starter with neighbors and passersby.
What did I learn?
There were two takeaways from the first season.
I needed to plan better, so I plant more of some things we enjoy and eliminate what we don’t. I needed a better design for my farm to increase yields and make better use of the property. I also needed to start earlier to increase my growing season.
I realized that I not only got more enjoyment out of some crops than others, but that some of those same crops are easier and more enjoyable for me to grow.
Applying what I learned
I sat down in January and planned out the garden.
First, I decided what we enjoyed and what quantities to grow. I only need one or two good tomato plants and am giving up on all the vines except summer squash. I’m going to plant a couple of more red and green pepper plants; a lot more peas and green beans and try beets and carrots once the peas and beans are done. The Russet potatoes were a bust, but we loved the Red Pontiacs, so I’ll plant four barrels of them and use what I learned to increase the yield.
Second, I decided I would save money by starting most of my plants from seed indoors
Lastly, I decided to use the property differently.
The garden boxes were falling apart and I felt like they were too crowded. So, I took them out and will garden in one long row, in the ground and right against the chain link fence. My hope is that the peas and beans will climb the fence and that tucking it to the corner of the property will leave the rest of the yard for a new experiment.
I have always been more successful growing tree fruit. Trees have higher upfront costs, but require much less regular maintenance, and while I really like vegetables, I love fruit. So, I will use the open space to replace one peach tree that gave up the ghost and plant two others. In addition, I will be planting two Bing cherry trees on the other side of the yard.
Next: Late Winter Garden Prep