5 kg per Hour (11 Pounds per Hour)

One of the questions that I’m often asked
as part of this RED Gardens project is how much food can you grow? And this is often expressed in terms of yield
per area, as in how many kg per square meter or how many pounds per square foot or even
how many tons per acre, but that’s the subject of another video I’ve made. You could also look at it in terms of other
resources including climate, like how much food can you grow within a certain climate
or if certain resources are scarce, such as water or soil fertility. Time is also a critical resource especially
on farms where time can literally be money. In a smaller garden it’s less critical but
can still be important. Some of us put a lot of emphasis on labour
saving methods and tools, perhaps because we’re conditioned to think that work is bad,
but time can often be a scarce resource. A big part of this RED Gardens project is
keeping track of a lot of data, including the amount of time that I spend in each of
the family scale gardens. As one would expect there is a significant difference in the number of hours spent on each method. In total I spent 102 hours in the Intensive
Garden in the 2017 season. This is a well established garden, but I still
spent a lot of time double digging the beds, and making a lot of compost, but not a much
as I have in previous seasons. I also spent a lot of time in sowing, transplanting
and caring for all of the plants, as well as in harvesting, but that’s to be expected,
because this is a really productive garden. I spent a lot less time on the Extensive garden,
with only 72 hours required in the same season, but this garden is set up to be easier with
less time needed for digging and weeding, and less time required for caring for seedlings
and transplants. There’s also fewer crops so less time is required
for all of the harvesting. The No-Dig Garden, in comparison, took only
67 hours and a lot of people like the idea of this method as it supposedly uses a lot
less work. I did find that it took less time to establish
the beds and to manage the fertility, but this will likely change as I shift to using
more compost as a mulch. Another key reason why this garden took less
time was that I didn’t give it as much attention as it probably needed, and that resulted in
lower yields. The Polyculture Garden took a lot of time
with 93 hours in total but that’s still less than the intensive garden. This is a relatively new garden, and I spent
a fair amount of time at the beginning of the season changing the structure of the beds,
but the broadcast sowing and the easy maintenance and care for the plants took a lot less time. Hand weeding unfortunately is a labour intensive
process, as is all the harvesting, but there was a lot to harvest. The Polytunnel Garden, on the other hand,
took a lot more time with 187 hours. I spent a lot of time managing the fertility
in this abundant garden, especially with all the foliar feeding I did. There was also a lot more crops, so there’s
more time needed in all the sowing and transplanting, and a lot of the plants need extra care and
attention in the confined space of the polytunnel. Watering is also an issue, but I’m still doing
it all by hand, and so this is one area that can definitely be improved by automated systems. Harvesting is by far the most time consuming
task, but it is the most productive garden. But some of the crops that only grow in the Polytunnel, such as beans do take a long time to pick. There are significant differences in the amount
of time spent in each of the gardens, but there’s also substantial differences in the
yields, and I was really surprised when I compared the yields to the amount of time
spent, as they matched almost exactly. And when I divided the total kilograms by
the total amount of hours spent in each garden I ended up with 5.0 for the Intensive Garden,
5.2 for the Extensive Garden, 5.2 for the No-Dig Garden, 5.1 for the Polyculture Garden,
and 5.0 for the Polytunnel Garden. This coherence around 5 kilograms per hour,
or about 11 pounds per hour, is really amazing, though it’s probably largely coincidental. But there is something behind it as the more
time you spend in a garden, the more your yield will increase, it just kind of makes
sense, but it’s so interesting to see just such a dramatic representation of this. It’s also really convenient that this 5 kilogram
per hour is the same as 5 kilograms per square meter that I talked about in the previous
video. Both of these are good rules of thumb, which
are useful and easy to remember. Perhaps 10 pounds per hour, or one pound per
square foot, are good approximations for those not using the metric system. A uniting factor of all of this is the diversity
of crops that are grown in each of the gardens, but some crops take much more work, and other
crops are much less productive. The Simple Garden is an example of a very
different approach, because there’s only 4 crops, all of which are easy to manage, high
yielding, and can be harvested all at once. The garden is also designed to be much simpler, with the help of sheet composting and a ground
cover to manage all of the beds. I’m not surprised that this Simple Garden
took only 42 hours, including all the time I spent at the beginning of the season establishing
the beds. All the other tasks took much less time, but
the higher yields didn’t follow the trend of the other gardens. Using the same formula, I end up with 12.4
kilograms per hour, which reflects the marginally higher yields and less than half the work. This garden will take much less time in the
2018 season, so I expect much higher productivity, perhaps as high as 20 kilograms per hour. Compared to 5 kilograms per hour, this garden
could be almost 4 times as productive, and in a league of it’s own, but it’s designed
to be that way. Most of us want a greater range of vegetables,
so we need to accept that there’s going to be more work involved. But if you didn’t mind the limited diet, and
had very little time, then this might be the best method for you. Of course there are a lot of labour saving
options, and this is a big focus of a lot of social media posts. I’m not afraid of hard work, but I do like
to be efficient with what I do. But within the context of this RED Gardens
project, I think it’s important to figure out how long things actually take, and to
not be always focused on finding the fastest and easiest way to do everything. A good example of this is watering in the
Polytunnel Garden. Up until now I’ve been watering by hand, instead
of installing automated watering systems, because I wanted to see how much time it would
take, so I could figure out how much time I could actually save. This 5 kilogram per hour guideline is likely
to change as each garden develops and becomes more productive, and as I become more skilled
and efficient as a grower. I would expect it to increase to 6 or maybe
even 7 kilograms per hour. It will be interesting to see if some gardens
become more productive than others as this project develops, but I don’t expect there
to be a lot of divergence, except for the simple garden of course. For now, 5 kilograms per hour is a good guide,
as is 5 kilograms per square meter, in this context of climate, and scale of production
at least. This is the last video in a series summarising
the gardens and the 2017 growing season. We are now heading into a new season of exploration,
growth, and filming. If you enjoyed this video please like, subscribe
and share, and if you want to support the project, check out the Patreon link here or
down in the description. Most importantly, thank you for watching

46 thoughts on “5 kg per Hour (11 Pounds per Hour)

  1. Interesting subject matter.though i have never kept any records myself. My work in the garden includes drinking tea watching the wildlife meditating gazing into the pond and planning. Reminds me of the old gardener when asked what he did all day in the garden replied sometimes i sit and think and sometimes i just sit..
    I dug the paths in my greenhouse out lower than the beds and i just drop the hosepipe and walk away. Works a treat. The only time i water the beds is when sowing or planting out.

  2. Holy cow this is the coolest garden video ever. I'm so looking forward to seeing they next level were you chart time over years.

  3. I guess you're kind of proving that monocultures are the way to go for kg/hour/m^2, and the industrialists will agree. But I wonder what things would look like if you took into account the chemicals used (if any?). Maybe biodiversity and soil health can be another impossible to measure metric?

    The conservationist in me wants to believe a poly-culture garden will produce more with less effort and less pest and disease, but it seems you are proving this wrong. Maybe there are benefits in poly-cultures years down the line, or maybe there are benefits in the nutritional value of the crops.

    Anyway, great work, I'm already looking forward to see how this season goes!

  4. They say you reap what you sow, would you mind sharing where you purchase your seeds. Do you have any thoughts on how your seeds affect harvest volumes? Would love to pop down to see your gardens sometime if you have visitors!

  5. I think i would like to live and work on a farm like this. Seems very nice. Cool that you can get such yields also.

  6. Thanks for the terrific analysis, once again. can you give us a hyper link to each of these garden definitions – from one of your earlier videos? just that i cant keep track of the real differences between these types, and it would be great to click to actually see those details when we are hearing about the garden details

  7. It would be great if you could somehow do a sample test with the gardens and increase the hours spend on one, while keeping one at the same level. Getting 2 the same gardens would give the best results, but as you have the details for all the different methods, you can start that right away. I'm interested to see if the theory of spending more time caps out at a certain point or if it just give more and more yield.

  8. Very interesting and as well presented as ever. Thank you. TBH however, if I were building such an analysis on my own allotment, plant health, bed appearance and grower satisfaction would be the top three measures. Ah the joys of being retired and time rich! I thought your new co-presenter showed great promise with something of the same relaxed, confident style of her old dad. Thanks again for your efforts.

  9. I dig out the paths 6 inches lower than the beds and flood the paths. The beds stay dry and are surouned by water.like a medevial casrle surrounded by its moat. Obviously i cannot walk on the paths untill the water has soaked away. My beds are about. 3 ft wide and with a good soaking the water spreads sideways into the beds. Roots have to go down to search for water.the surface of the beds remains dry which discourages slugs. Soil is a sandy loam which has had lots o compost laid on top.

  10. I don't understand how you can spend so little time on watering compared to harvesting, without automation. For me watering is most time consuming task.

  11. I feel like the simple garden is an example of why the mono culture setups are so common in large scale industrial vegetable farming.

  12. that's one of the most interesting gardening videos I have watched for a long time – what an impressive work and very well presented. I must take a long time keeping account of the time you spent on each task. I find it extremely interesting that you always got 5 kg/sqm, so in terms of yield there's appearently no better option. However, it could be interesting to see if the no-dig garden potentially could break this pattern if you could get your hands on vast amounts of compost and get it up and running like C. Dowding. I can see that you didn't spend significanty less time on weeding here, so there should be some gain here in the long term. I am very fond of the idea of a no-dig garden, so I guess I want it to win – so I am biased 😉 Good we have people like you to actually test assumptions in a systematic way

  13. This is by far the most interesting and most helpful gardening channel I have found. These numbers are fantastic. Thank you for doing all the work!

  14. Hi there, I have been fascinated by your collection of videos and the whole RED Garden Project. Have had an allotment myself for almost a year now, not quite to your scale of course, but it does interest me in collecting data and the sheer pleasure of harvesting time. The 5 kilo per hour was interesting especially as you explained that went right across your 6 project gardens. Time intensity can only be truly calculated in monetary terms on larger or full scale operations. Pointless on smaller allotments although I do record expenditure over income albeit harvest comparisons to my local Super Market. Interested about the comment you made in the same video about growing crops purely for Compost and the subject video "growing potatoes for Compost" think that's the correct title but you'll know what I'm on about. Anyway looking forward to more videos. Best Wishes to you and your team.

  15. Sorry I wasn't able to get back to you. The way I set up my raised beds is I try to dig down any where from 1.5 to 2.5 feet from ground level depending on how lazy i feel that first layer is than filled with leaves, so that when compacted is usually 3 to 4 inches, wanting maple if available but if wanting a greater acid soil i use oak and pine. Next layer is 2 inches of rotted chicken and pig manures, then I putin a 4 inch layer of cow manure, a 2 inch layer of compost and top that off with 6 to 8 inches of topsoil from the garden area or neighboring fields, my boarders are placed around the beds and they are planted as I go using roughly a square foot layout but don't do this religiously, i try to plant to have a harvest of from 3 to 5 lbs of crop per foot. Varieties which I eat and enjoy and then gradually adding others until they become regulars. I do not always use bed but also use patches for asparagus, bamboo, corn mangels, sugar beet, and the three sisters, for some of my corn, beans, and squash or pumpkin. Hope this answers some questions.

  16. Bruce are you really convinced about the value of "foliar feeding"? From my horticulture studies (quite a while ago now, I admit) the stomata on leaves are for gas exchange. I've never quite understood where the concept of foliar feeding originated, and how leaves are supposed to be able to take in fertiliser, and then utilise it. I should look into it, I suppose. Great video..

  17. Thanks a lot for this video. I think the "simple garden" conclusions are very helpful for those who seek to work very little, especially if it's designed to be a "cash crop" (hate that expression) and the diversity of food you get for yourself is produced in a reduced-size garden. But apart from financial considerations, it's very satisfying to observe that the less you do, the "more" you produce.

  18. I would like to see a video on how you record all of your data. Is it done on paper or digitally? Do you use any software to analyze the info? How much time do you spend just recording data? Thanks again for an awesome video!

  19. I have watched a few of your videos and am enjoying the info you very thoughtfully put out here for us. I had a question if I may,
    Why couldn't I just put spent kitchen scraps and lawn clippings just put onto the flower gardens instead of putting everything in a compost PILE? Will it hurt the flowers or plants any? I am just TODAY starting a baby compost pile and am wanting to put it in my backyard in an area that was initially a large fenced dog pen area. It is no longer in use for dogs but this spring I want to transplant some fruit trees in there. Can you point me in the right direction please. I want success with these all in one fruit trees, as they are sort of expensive. I appreciate you taking time to respond, or anyone for that matter! Thanks again?

  20. I know the video is old but I think you should read the 2015 french report on la ferme du Bec Hellouin in a similar climate to yours.
    In a word, in a non mechanized farm where you optimize the crop choices, you can double your revenue per work hour if you do a bit more than doubling the yield per square meter on a year.

  21. It would be interesting to try a range of intentionally divergent amount of times to see how we’ll yield tracks with effort. For fun maybe take 1 square meter and try to only spend 1 hour and see if you can still get at least 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *