With a few weeks left before the summer begins to fade, our harvest season is beginning in earnest! Tomatoes popping off the vine, fridges filling with zucchini, forgotten lettuce long since gone to seed (it happens to the best of us). Our gardens provide different treats throughout the growing season, but now is the time when our gardens provide fresh ingredients in spades. As you fill up your baskets, try tracking your harvest this year!
Tracking your garden harvest is a great tool you can use to determine how productive your garden was this year and can help you increase your plant success next season! It’s an easy check-in for your garden’s productivity that can tell you a lot about how your garden did compared to last year. You can compare different fertilizers and nutrient programs to find what works best for your garden. Find out if your tomatoes need to be rotated, what the best spot is for certain plants, if a specific garden bed is experiencing the same issues season-season, and so much more!
Measuring everything that comes out of your garden can be tedious, especially when you regularly pop into your garden space and harvest. Once you get into the rhythm, weighing and tallying your produce after each harvest becomes easy. Keep reading for our tips, tricks, and tools to track your harvest for a better garden next year!
Why should you track your harvest?
We touched on a few benefits of tracking your harvest, but we want to expand on the list of reasons why you should keep count of the fruits of your labor!
- Figure out how much produce your garden grows in a season
- Measure each type of crop harvested
- Plan your needs for next year
- Learn what worked, and what needs to be improved on
- Determine what you actually used from your garden
- Track your garden’s success each year
- Diagnose problem areas in your garden
- Learn from past experiences
- Show off your garden’s success!
How to track your harvest:
Now that you’re sold on tracking, how should you get started? We made a free harvest tracking guide, perfect for keeping track of the amount of produce you harvest at different intervals during the season. Use this guide to track the type of crop, each specific variety, harvests throughout the season, the size of your harvests, and how much you saved by growing your plants yourself! This guide is easy to print, easier to use, and perfect for any crop. We have a few tips on how to use this guide:
There are different methods you can use to keep track of the amount of produce you grow, whether using handfuls, cups, or weighing your produce in pounds and ounces! The best unit for measuring your harvest depends on the equipment you have available. Determine a set unit for how to measure each crop. If you harvest three cups of lettuce in one week, and a half-pound of lettuce the next week, it will be more difficult to take a final inventory of what you grew at the end of the season.
Make sure you measure and record your quantity after each harvest. If you make a guesstimate after you’ve already eaten or processed your harvest, you will likely have inaccurate results at the end of the harvest period.
If you’re a cold-season gardener, use a different guide for your different plantings throughout the season! Some gardeners use a greenhouse or a cold frame to extend their harvest season, so track your harvest based on when you plant.
Keep your sheet! You put so much work into tracking your garden’s productivity, don’t let it go to waste. Keep your sheet in a folder or a binder where you can easily compare results from previous growing seasons. The more data you have, the more you can use it!
What are other ways to track your garden?
Tracking your harvest is an amazing tool, but what if your harvest was smaller due to a drought? What if you expanded your garden space and were able to grow more plants? Tracking your harvest is a great tool that you can use to measure some garden success, but so much of your plant’s health is due to effects that change from one season to the next!
Garden Journaling is an easy way to track these seasonal changes. Garden journaling is perfect for recording the changes in your garden that aren’t as easy to see with numbers. It’s also a great choice for people who don’t prefer working with grids or spreadsheets and want a more fluid tracking device.
Keep track of how you planted your beds, fertilizer and amendments you used, any pests you noticed, weather events, and even how good your crops tasted! Different amendments can make plants taste slightly different depending on the available micronutrients in the soil. Update different notable events throughout the season and use those notes to determine how you should rotate crops, prepare your beds with compost, and get off to a better start next Spring.
Tracking your harvests is more than a tool, it’s a satisfying way to see the impact we can have on the plants we cultivate. With so many ways to stay in touch with how your garden changes, it’s easy to find the best method for your needs! Grow a healthier garden that grows with you.