Farmers! Gardeners! Market Gardeners! FINALLY, a calculator that helps you to get the most produce from your land!
If you’ve ever attempted to plan a garden or farm in order to produce high yields and a wide variety of crops for a specific number of people you may have an idea of how daunting and overwhelming such a task can be. You don’t simply have the pleasure of deciding what varieties of the many crops you want to grow. Different crops have different spacing requirements, planting dates and maturation dates, among many other differences. All these factors must be accounted for so that you can figure out when and where you will plant your crops in order to make the best use of your land and also know how much it is capable of producing.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that allows you to type in basic information about your production goals, then easily determine how much of each crop you need to plant and when you need to plant it in order it to feed the number of people you want to? And, wouldn’t it be helpful for market gardeners and farmers to also be able to make potential retails sales projections? Tracy Sweely created the Fantastic Farm and Garden Calculator (FFCG) to make this process as quick and painless as possible so that you can enjoy the cultivation experience and concentrate your time and energy on actually growing and marketing your crops. With a good garden or farm plan in hand you can keep as much of your land under cultivation as possible during the growing season and produce the varieties you want and quantities you need. Click here for a screenshot of the entire Calculator.
When you use the FFGC you will input specific types of information and the calculator will generate the information you need to proceed with your garden or farm. Calculator users can download the spreadsheet-based planning tool and can save and print their results. Types of input you will need to provide include:
- The number of people you are attempting to feed.
- The size of your cultivatable rows
- The frost date for you area
- The date you want to end your garden or farm
- The amount of each crop you want to provide to each person you are feeding each week
- The amount of each crop you are going to sell each week
- The number of weeks you want to harvest each crop
- The harvest interval (do you want to harvest a specific crop weekly or bi-weekly?)
- The average number of days to harvest for each crop variety you want to cultivate.
From this information you provide the FFGC will calculate:
- Plant spacing for each crop
- Total row feet of each crop to plant per week and per season
- Total number of plants you will sow per week and per season
- Annual yield of each crop you need to grow in lbs
- Planting dates for each crop
- First harvest and final harvest dates
- Number of days to harvest for each crop
- Amount of seed needed for the season
The FFGC will also project for market gardeners and farmers potential income per week and for the season.
This information is generated to assist users in basic planting and in orchestrating space-saving crop succession planting. To try a demo click here. To help users translate their plan to on-the-ground implementation the FFGC comes with a protocol and templates to map out crop rotations, a planting overview, crop planting and harvest guides, and crop varieties. Click here to view the protocol.
It should be remembered that growing produce is not a hard science but is dependent on many, many variables. Variables that will cause divergences from information generated by this calculator include, but are not limited to, soil conditions, sun exposure and other weather variables, growing methods, seed age or seedling health, and experience level of the grower. For this reason, the FFGC should only be used as a guide to help you plan your garden or farm, and the calculations generated should not be seen as certainties but as approximations. Using the FFGC is not a guarantee of success.
The FFGC was designed using intensive cultivation methods originating from biodynamic, French intensive and biointensive systems, but the Beginner skill level versions of the calculator can be used for non-intensive growing methods as well. To learn about and begin to use intensive growing methods please use the following list of links:
There are two versions of the FFGC, one for gardeners and one for farmers. The Garderner’s version of the FFGC is the basic calculator. The Farmer’s version includes a Retail Sales Calculator component. There are three skill levels in each version. 1 If you have never gardened before or if you’ve only had a garden for one season or just dabbled in gardening for a couple of years, use the Beginner skill level. If you do not use, or have not used, bio-intensive methods, use the Beginner skill level no matter how many years of gardening experience you have. If you have 2 or more years of serious bio-intensive cultivation experience and are familiar with using all bio-intensive techniques, use the Intermediate skill level. If you have had 5 or more years of serious bio-intensive cultivation experience, have had consistent success using all bio-intensive techniques, have highly developed soil structure in your planting beds and are in an area where the growing season is very long (i.e. Zone 7 and above), use the Advanced skill level.
Consider the amount of produce you have produced in the past, and consider the following when deciding about your skill level:
From our research a grower just beginning to use bio-intensive methods or a grower using traditional methods can grow roughly 1/2 to 3/4 of a lb of produce per sq ft. Someone who has been able to grow this amount of produce would use the Beginner Skill Level. The Intermediate Skill Level would be used by someone who as been able to grow 1 1/2 lbs of produce per sq ft. The Advanced Skill Level would be used by someone who has been able to grow roughly 3 lbs of produce per sq ft.
Because you would have to pay for a new account in order to switch skill levels within a particular season please be conservative in your skill level estimate. It is better to use a lower skill level and produce more than anticipated than it is to use a higher skill level and produce less than anticipated.
- Skill levels are based on information from How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons - Ten Speed Press, 2006 ↩