September 8, 2015

Harvest Wheel

In a previous post I mentioned I had read Masanobu Fukuoka's The One-Straw Revolution (available as a free download here. Thanks Chris!). It's a very interesting book for a number of reasons. One is that he has developed a very good work-smarter-not-harder system for growing grain. Our situation is different, so I have not figured out how to fully utilize his techniques on our homestead, but it's encouraging to see it done.

In one chapter he shows two diagrams of what he calls "Nature's Food Mandala". I really liked that idea and adapted it to what I'm calling my "Harvest Wheel".  Mine is based on my regional growing season and what I've been able to harvest over the years and when. It does not include preserved or stored food, only fresh. That means it isn't a complete picture of being food self-sufficient. Also it is somewhat idealized because it assumes ideal growing conditions, which don't happen every year. Still, is a valuable visual tool to help me plan my planting.

harvest wheel photo harvest_wheel_zpsh5ntm3rk.jpg
Click for a better look-see

I'm still working on it and I'm sure there are some things I've forgotten; shell beans for example. Even so, it is encouraging to see how much of the year we're able to grow and harvest food. Also it gives me an idea of where the harvesting gaps are so I can focus on filling them, for example winter gardening, hoop houses, even a greenhouse.

My goal is to grow more fresh and preserve less. As an analysis tool, I'm hoping this is a step in that direction. Next I'll work on a planting wheel.

35 comments:

  1. Good idea, Leigh! I often find turning something into a graphic representation brings not only a better understanding of the status quo, but also new ideas about how to proceed. Looking forward to seeing how you use this technique :)

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    1. Thanks Quinn. There's something about a graphic that communicates "at a glance" as they say. It feels very useful!

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  2. Have you looked at Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest? I never got the chance to try any of his ideas but they seemed do-able.

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    1. Judy, I think my library has a copy because I recall flipping through it. I'll have to look again. I know it's a very popular book.

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  3. Thats a good idea with the wheel, being new to a Poly tunnel (hoop house) I am now sowing for winter cropping, its taking a bit of getting use to as it alters the growing seasons for the good :-)

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    1. Dawn, we're going to do our first hoop house growing this year too. It's been on my to-do list every year, but this year we're finally making a start!

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  4. That is a great idea. I have always wanted to read that book but my library doesn't have it. So thanks for the free download link!

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    1. You're welcome. It's a very interesting read.

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  5. I love your imagery. It can demonstrate more than a list. It's a flow chart and that's how nature works too. One thing automatically flows into the next. Great idea. :)

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    1. Chris, that's so true. To make the chart I started with lists, but somehow they don't communicate to me as well! It's nothing surprising, but it's helpful just the same.

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  6. I've been think about how to apply Masanobu Fukuoka's ideas to your homestead. Have you considered a small patch say 4 by 12? I would look into upland rice. It doesn't require flooding. I considered growing some but never got to it. Bountiful Gardens had seed at one time.

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    1. Judy, it's not the rice, it's the straw. He uses 100% of his straw as mulch, whereas my grain straw is valuable goat feed! Still, I'd love to be able to grow rice, cuz we really like it, so I'll have to look into that upland variety. :)

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  7. Great thought process, Leigh. Now you've given me more to ponder. I am really hoping to increase our ability to harvest food to the 'year round' mode with the addition of our greenhouse. I can't see where we can grow anything in there in the hot summer months, it will just be too hot. But the fall, winter and early spring should see it full of edible plants as well as seedlings for the garden.

    Fern

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    1. Fern, I'm thinking along the same lines in regards to summer. It's worse when we get a dry spell. I think we all have a mental idea of our harvest seasons, but seeing like this is giving me food for thought.

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    2. Leigh, I agree with Erika (next comment), you need to get Eliot Coleman's book. It is one that I have read most of and has given me many ideas for our greenhouse. I bought it years ago when we were still in the planning stages. It is well worth reading. Ditto to Erika's comment.

      Fern

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    3. I thought for sure I'd seen that book at my library; I must have flipped through it at a bookstore. Dang. Ditto for the Steve Solomon book. So now the hunt is on.

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  8. Yes, read Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest. It is full of inspiration as is his Winter Harvest Handbook. Can't wait to see what you do with a hoophouse. Mine has been lacking attention and I know I could be doing so much more with it.

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    1. I'll have to check it out from the library. I need inspiration!

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  9. It seems we are working in the same direction. After this catastrophic summer (we have started to harvest tomatoes this week), we have decided to grow crops only when water is available, with means creating microclimates for spring and fall and a hoop house for the winter. We are hoping to reduce growing plants in summer so we can use the little water we have for survival watering of perennials, shrubs and trees.
    Cheers,
    Lucía

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    1. Lucia - have you looked into Steve Solomon's Gardening When It Counts? The book is about gardening in places with hot dry summers.

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    2. Lucia, there seem to be several of us thinking along the same lines. And Judy, thank you for another book recommendation! I'll have to look that one up when I get Eliot Coleman's book.

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    3. Thanks for the tip, Judy. I'll look into it.

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  10. Leigh, I like this harvest wheel but don't understand what you'll do in winter if you don't preserve now?

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    1. I'm still preserving everything I can get my hands on, but I would like to learn how to extend my gardening season. I have the same problem a few others have mentioned, that it gets too hot and sometimes too dry for garden plants to be happy. I have a good climate here, so I'd like to take better advantage of it. :)

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  11. My accountant brain loves a chart.

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    1. Always glad to make someone happy. :)

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  12. That's really neat -- it organizes it so well in one spot. Nice!

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  13. Hi! That visual aid is a great idea! Nancy

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    1. Thanks! It is interesting to see it in a picture.

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  14. Wonderful post. Since going back to work I've had to reduce the size of the garden and the livestock "collection"...more with less. I grow a year round garden and that has really helped with reducing the amount of time spent canning and dehydrating. Love your Harvest Wheel.

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    1. That's encouraging to hear, Lynda. And that's what I hope to accomplish as well.

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  15. The Shepherd based his whole vegie garden on the One Straw Revolution - he has never rototilled and the soil out there is fantastic - rich, black, full of worms - they love that sheep poop.

    Glad your rooster came home. Silly guy. Do you suppose he has the answer to why the chicken crossed the road? Ha ha ha.... T.

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