The Fantastic Farm & Garden Calculator was created to help us plan our small biointensive farm. Tracy came up with an amazing spreadsheet calculator back in February of this year, and we've been using it ever since. Apart from some germination & fertilization issues hampering the growth of a few items, the calculator has been pretty close at predicting the amount of food we could grow, and are growing.
I'd like to point out the growth issues we've encountered with our micro farm:
Germination: We have double drip lines down our 42" wide rows, and were hand watering the freshly seeded areas to avoid running the irrigation on the many unplanted rows. "Keep the seeds moist!" We thought we were keeping them moist, but our hot dry spring probably dried some of the seeds out.
Fertilization: We had a soil test before getting started and our nitrogen was quite low, with a high organic matter content that I'm told can tie up available nitrogen. (To "amend" our clay soil , we tilled in aged horse manure, and rotted straw.) After we made our raised rows we added llama manure. We didn't add it to four rows because we planned on having our early season greens there, and were unsure if the manure was aged 90+ days. The rows of salad greens without llama manure were planted in early March. The rows of salad greens with llama manure were planted a month or more later. The results? The rows without still have rather small growth with the lettuce and arugula, while the other (planted a month or more later) has been providing us with nice harvests for our CSA.
Plant spacing: I'm the main "farmer", and I have some CSA workshare members helping me seed & weed. I tend to seed heavier, especially on the salad greens. Others were a little to literal with the seed spacing (using the thinned plant spacing instead). In sparser areas, we have too much wasted space. My tighter plantings are doing well and producing a lot of food. Our next planting of these sparse areas will be seeded more intensely.
I think if we hadn't had some of the planting related issues we had, I think we'd be much closer to the calculations the FFGC gave us. This fall and winter we will be compiling all our data and experiences in our Grow Your Own CSA ebook, as well as making any adjustments to the FFGC that are needed.
What are your experiences with the Fantastic Farm and Garden Calculator? Contact us and let us know!
I feel that once we address these issues,