Results of the 2015 food diary

For the last couple of years, I have kept a diary of the food (vegetables, fruit and herbs) my daughter and I have grown ourselves – well, largely me, except for picking blueberries and tomatoes.

From September to December 2014, we ate an average of three items per day. For the same period this last year, the average had gone up to three and a half items. And overall for 2015 our consumption averaged out at three, so consumption hasn’t changed significantly.

As the first half of 2014 had been taken up with an allotment which was then abandoned, the knock-on effect was that there was less to eat this January in comparison with the previous year. Also, the allotment had provided me with crops abandoned by others which further boosted early ’14 figures.

This January, on the other hand, sees my garden with a few offerings which have overwintered (chard, rocket, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, tomatoes, chillies and nasturtiums) as well things that are making a comeback already (chives, as pictured below).

As for range and type of foodstuff, I have become more adventurous, so nettles and nasturtium leaves featured on the menu for the first time last year. I also found a variety of carrots that like clay soil, though I do need to thin them out more quickly this year. And in general I need to start sowing much sooner.

Better get on with it then – but lunch first!


About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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27 Responses to Results of the 2015 food diary

  1. Lovely update thank you for sharing have a blessed day

  2. That’s a pretty impressive average, especially as it’s for the entire year. Must also save you money and, of course, it’s cutting food miles (could you measure in food centimetres instead?!)

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I think it does save on the food bill as well as the mileage, especially as the seeds packets can last several years and some of the things grow from saved seeds.

      I like the idea of food centimetres 😉

  3. drofmit4108 says:

    Happy Gnu Year Helen….
    may 2016 see you really start to produce.
    One tip, don’t grow things that you can buy cheaply from your local sources…
    do, though, grow things that you cannot get easily, things like fresh herbs for instance….
    grow things that you know you can grow well that are expensive in the shops….
    by doing both of those things…
    and by growing things you like that you can grow but just aren’t available in the shops….
    you will get a much greater satisfaction.
    As yet, even after five years, we haven’t got a decent place to raise seed…
    so for common things like lettuce, some early cabbages, etc…
    where we do not need quantity… we buy from the local nursery[s]…
    half a dozen at a time…
    works wonders, good crops from types known to grow well locally.
    But, whatever… you and your youngster… have fun!!

    • Helen says:

      Happy New Year to you as well, Tim.

      I’m still working out exactly what works. Perhaps this will change as the soil improves as well.

      Getting plants from nurseries can be good – that’s how I got my best cauliflowers. So, something to look into perhaps.

      I hope you have a bountiful year in 2016.

  4. jeffollerton says:

    That’s an impressive average, to be sure. Someone above mentioned saving you money; are you able to roughly calculate the value of the food you have grown and eaten? As far as I know there’s no published statistics on the economic value of home grown food, it would be a really interesting exercise.

    • Helen says:

      I did a calculation about 18 months ago but on my phone I can’t find the post to remind me of the results. As far as I can remember, I saved approx. £150 on herbs, which covered the cost of garden sundries. So, the vegetables themselves were free.

      As a one off, I sought out the theoretical cost of a bowl of sprouting broccoli. Had I bought it, I would have paid upwards of £5 and had plastic packaging to deal with as well.

      Anyway, I agree with you it would be an interesting exercise – and quite complex. Eg there are the hidden costs such as wear and tear on my car, if I have picked up seeds on a day out. Or would I not need to count that cost as I’d already covered it under say ‘entertainment’ or ‘education’?

      • jeffollerton says:

        In the first instance I think a simple calculation of adding up xx kg of each crop at £yy per kg, minus the total paid for seeds/bulbs/tubers/young plants would be informative. Calculating some of the other things would be trickier, I agree.

        • Helen says:

          Well, I could start noting the amount each item weighs. Perennials such as Jerusalem artichokes wouldn’t even have a cost. I just save a few tubers (and even if I didn’t they would still come back next year).

          • jeffollerton says:

            I think you could actually work backwards from your diary if you know approximately how much each “portion” weighs.

          • Helen says:

            No, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have a clue. I don’t generally weigh stuff, unless I am following a specific recipe. So yesterday, I used about 500g of homegrown produce for piccalilli. Therefore as a very rough guesstimate that would have saved me £6+, going on the price a jar would cost in a shop. But most stuff just gets eaten by the handful here and the handful there.

          • jeffollerton says:

            Understood, I’m a bucket cook too 🙂

          • Helen says:

            I didn’t know that was the term 🙂

          • jeffollerton says:

            I may have made it up…’s derived from “bucket chemistry” which is a phrase I remember from A-level Chemistry, and which the Wiktionary defines as: “Any chemical process or technique that is relatively low-tech, and does not require specialist equipment or skills, or precise measurement or control.”

          • Helen says:

            That’s great – thank you!

  5. well done – have you tried nasturtium flowers? Much more exciting than the leaves and they add real colour to the salad

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I started eating the flowers in 2014. I added then to the rice cooker and liked the taste as well as the colour. On balance, I slightly prefer the leaves myself, though.

      The packet of seeds cost £1.99 and I’ve had two years’ worth of cropping + the benefits of companion planting. Self-seeders are great!

  6. Isn’t it fun being adventuresome? And what are you doing with those nettles? 😊

  7. Isn’t if fun being adventuresome! And what are you doing with those nettles 😄

  8. Karen says:

    Wishing you a bountiful garden in this coming year, Helen.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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