Fruit and Veg Growing Challenge - the final countdown 2013...

20 August, 2013

As many of you are aware over the last two years I've set myself a couple of fruit and veg (not quite) self-sufficiency challenges.

The first ran from 2011-2012 where I challenged myself to grow at least 50% of my fruit and veg for a year. I grew 65% which was a lovely surprise and very rewarding.

This spurred me on to then up the anti to aiming to grow at least 80% of my fruit and veg for a year. This challenge started in October 2012 and was meant to go for 12 months.

However, I set myself this challenge before I made plans for a long anticipated holiday which I will be leaving for in two days time. This is much of the reason why I have been stupendously busy lately, and will also mean the blogging will be quiet while I'm away for the next five weeks touring Europe. But I will check in with any fruit and veg growing I come across on my travels as well as any garden inspiration.

But all that aside, while I have cut short my challenge by a month and a half I feel it still bears a post challenge debrief.

Firstly though, an update on the last month and a half of the challenge. July saw the garden produce a slightly lower than target 77% of my fruit and veg. While August is not quite over, I've seen fit to tally up the garden vs bought produce for this month, which has seen the results bounce back to a respectable 88% homegrown.

Just one example of a recent harvest.

So, overall over the past 10.5 months the garden has produced on average... 83% of my fruit and veg needs.

Yay garden!

Here is the homegrown produce wrap up:
Fruit: 1.2kg apples (hey, the trees are young...), 1kg alpine strawberries, 0.6kg blackberries, 6kg figs, 4.3kg lemons, 20kg peaches, 6.3kg raspberries, 4kg rhubarb, 3.4kg rockmelons, 14.8kg strawberries, 1.3kg watermelon.
Salad: 30 bags mixed lettuces, 30 bags spinach, 3 bags beetroot leaves, 5 bags rocket.
Root crops: 2.9kg beetroot, 1.9kg carrots.
Cucubits: 5kg cucumbers, 6.6kg zucchini.
Beans/Legumes: 0.3kg snowpeas, 2.9kg broadbeans, 1.5kg french/climbing beans, 4.6kg peas, 0.3kg borlotti beans, 0.2kg yin yang beans.
Brassicas: 2.4kg broccoli, 2.3kg cauliflower, 2.8kg kale, 1.7kg cabbage. 
Alliums: 0.2kg garlic, 9.9kg onions, 0.6kg spring onions.
Misc: 30 artichoke flowers, 0.8kg asparagus, 15 cobs corn, 9.6kg tomatoes, 1.5kg eggplant, 0.4kg capsicums, 16 bunches parsley, 9 bunches basil. (These are the only herbs I harvest by the handful, so I count them. The others I don't bother documenting.)

The main bought items were mainly:
Fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, mandarins, plums.
(Of these only the grapes are not already in my garden. I have many, many apple trees (59 at last count - yes I am a crazy apple tree lady), two oranges, one mandarin and 4 plum trees, but these are all young and yet to fruit. I plan to get some table grapes when I eventually extend the varandah and grow them up to provide both summertime shade and fruit.)
Veg: celery, onion, carrots, potatoes and parsnips.
(I already have celery in the garden, but it is still pretty young. I'm hoping for a bumper crop of onions this summer to get me through next year. Potatoes have been planted so here's hoping for a crop - I've never been great at growing potatoes. Parsnips are in the ground at the moment, so I need to sow some earlier ones to have some at cropping size come next winter.)

So that's the garden wrap up for 2012-13. While I have derived a huge amount of motivation (it was painful to write down bought produce I could have grown if I was more organised) and knowledge about what I like to eat so I can better plan what I grow, I don't think I'll continue with the fruit and veg growing challenge. I'm not sure if I will set myself another challenge of a different sort either. I think I will just wait and see what inspires me.

But for now I will bask in the glory of the 83% homegrown fruit and veg result.


  1. Well done - that's very impressive! (Not least for writing it all down). 59 apple trees - holy guacamole! That's a whole lotta apples.

    Have a great trip - I hear there's an open air museum with lovely gardens near Cardiff (if you find yourself in Wales) :-)

    1. Thank you. And yes, it is a whole lotta apples! I just keep seeing another variety that I absolutely must have! It's a disease.
      Unfortunately I won't be heading to the UK this time around (I'm off to Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland and France - yay!) though its certainly on the to-do list. Thank for the suggestion though!

  2. Oh my goodness! You are a star gardener! Well done. And I have to say, where on earth did you fit 59 apple trees? Do you have an orchard tucked behind the vegies?
    At least you will be able to feed the entire neighbourhood come the zombie apocalypse..
    Happy holidays!

    1. I dunno about star gardener, but cheers! It seems I will need to do a blog post about all my apple trees. There are many dwarf ones in there, but a few usual size trees and many are interplanted around the vegies and ornamental garden.

  3. Europe. I have travel envy...

    What a fantastic result Bek. That's a hugely successful challenge done and dusted. I can't rival the 59 apple trees, but I confess to eying off my land thinking about where i can put more Ballerina ones in.

    1. Yes, I have been a long sufferer of travel envy, but now am causing it. I will say its fun to be on this side.
      Cheers! It was well worth it.
      Go on... just a couple more ballerina trees won't hurt ;)

  4. WOW! Just fantastic. But did I read right, 59 apples? Where do you fit them? Do you have a huge backyard? Or miniture trees? I must say that while I am doing very little documentation, I am buying hardly any veg. Right now just potatoes, onions, garlic, the odd bit of corn and red capsicums... but that is mostly becasue I am not completely eating seasonally... I will wack myself later. As for fruit I am buying apples, mandarins and lemons, but that is mostly becasue my meagre 6 apple trees are newbies as are my 4 citrus trees.

    I am probably officially tired of eating brassicas but they at lest create visiual variety as I have purple and lime green varieties alongside the normal white cauli and green broccoli. Thank god for fennel bulbs I say!

    Have a fantastic holiday!

    1. Thanks! Yes, I have not mis-typed, it is indeed 59 apple trees. My backyard isn't huge (less than 1/4 acre, but its not a massive house so there is a fair bit of garden space) but most are dwarfing trees.
      Very nice that you're mostly self sufficient. I have to say I don't subscribe to the belief that you should be completely self sufficient and seasonal - I like more flexibility in my eating patterns. I hope your fruit trees become big strong bearers of delicious fruit as soon as may be.
      Thanks - I shall do my best :)

  5. Wow!!! 20kgs of peaches and 14.5kgs of strawberries makes me very envious indeed. I would love to say that I even got a kilo of onions but mine are stupidly small and I have fears they may take a months of Sundays to get enough for a weeks use.

    Have a brilliant trip. Hope the weather gods are kind to you as well.

    1. Well, actually the 20kg of peaches aren't stictly from my garden, but my parents - but as I harvested and preserved them (sharing the products with the whole family mind you) I feel I can include them in the challenge. Hopefully my peach trees will be as productive one day!
      Thanks! I'm doing a few cycling tours so I hope so too!

  6. Wow Bek- I am envious of your haul! -although I reckon I would have beaten you in regards to capsicum (still going from summer!) and eggplants (esp. counting all of mine that got stolen). 9.6kg of tomatoes and 14kg on strawberries- amazing!

    1. Wow - you still have capsicum and eggplants! I'm jealous.
      It's seems like a lot of tomatoes and strawbs, but its amazing quicly they go with some for self use, some for giving away and some for preserving.