The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Garden joy planning

Bean seedling

While I was sick this past summer and fall, I doubted everything about the homestead (well, everything except Mark and Artemesia). Now that I'm bouncing back, it's easy to settle into old patterns. But I've decided to be smart instead and make the necessary changes so I don't go down the same dark road again.

To that end, my garden ambitions this year are extreme --- I hope to cut back my work by 50% while still feeding us most or all of fresh produce we eat. Spreadsheets to the rescue!

Garden joy spreadsheet

I've attached my garden-planning file in case anyone wants to use it as a jumping-off point for your own work-to-joy analysis. For those terrified by the mere idea of Excel, here's the upshoot:

  • We're cutting everything back a small amount so I won't end up giving so much away
  • I'm not going to preserve any soup for winter, so I dramatically reduced quantities of soup components
  • I generally deleted crops that aren't streamlined to the point where they produce in proportion to the amount of work I put into the project

I suspect we'll end up having to buy a few more goat carrots, onions, and possibly winter vegetables. But otherwise we should still be eating primarily off the farm for the entirety of 2017.

Final estimates: garden square footage will reduce by 43%,  yields will reduce by 38%, and work will reduce by 50%. I hope this means joy will also increase by 100%. Stay tuned for more details as the project progresses.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Good lord...way too organized! Reminds me of my spouse the researcher! Oh the spreadsheets, the orgainzation! I however am more the disorganized daydreamer. :) Then she keeps telling me I'm an extrovert on some sort of chart and she is the introvert.
Comment by Eric Wed Jan 18 20:44:33 2017

Hi Anna and Mark,

Anna, I am impressed. I started off last year with lots of intentions. And I did get a lot to grow thanks to your last year's spreadsheet.

I have been looking harder at Aquaponics and enlarging my current setup. I especially like the idea of putting the Aquaponic over spill into the garden and the claim that things grow twice as fast??!!

That claim makes sense to me with what I have read about using the paddy system with cattle.

Gotta try some of that water on my real-time conductivity sites. I should be able to see results quickly once the ground thaws and the biology gets up and running.

FWIW - I ran the snow plow over two sensors, so I gotta wait until the ground is non frozen to get the sensors back into the ground taking real time data.

warm regards to you both, John

Comment by John Thu Jan 19 00:25:30 2017

Hi Anna,

I forgot how big a block was? 2x3 feet?

I expect to be growing quite a bit more this year and with a lot less work.

I am still eating last year's apples. Stored in paper shopping bag, in a loose plastic bad in the refrig. Kale didn't do very well just being frozen. Tasted off.

Gotta try drying stuff like you do.

Comment by John Thu Jan 19 08:40:22 2017
I like the work smarter not harder attitude. I'm sure we will all benefit from your less intense schedule through some fun adventures and exciting projects.
Comment by Brian Thu Jan 19 09:15:16 2017

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.