One-Hour-Per-Day Gardening is Back

Recently prepped beds: cardboard over rich soil covered by compost and woodchip paths.

We have a big garden and try to grow an increasing percentage of our own food. We’ve still got potatoes and some canned vegetables from last year in the larder. People often comment on how large the garden is and how much work and time it must take to keep up, so again this year, I am working to quantify this by logging one hour per day on the garden. Of course most people don’t have the time or space to work an extra hour a day in a garden, but if we can provide 70–80 percent of our calories from gardening one hour each day, others might still get good results with a quarter- or half-hour-per-day gardening. We’ll play with how hours of work correlates with percentage of food grown.

In 2018 I did this same project but lost track by mid-July, when we had averaged about 37 minutes per day over the growing season (Feb.–Oct.). You can read all of last year’s updates in our archive. We grew most of of our calories through this last March: our food bill dropped to about $20 per week for two people. We don’t grow flour, oats, oil, and a few other staples . . . yet.

The Specifics

Trellised raspberries in need of pruning.

The plan is to log each hour of work in the garden and what tasks are done. It doesn’t have to be an hour each and every day: if it is raining, I could work two hours the next day, for example; right now I am just starting seedlings, which do not need an hour each day; and the spring planting season needs more time each day, while the middle of the season requires less.

Once the season gets going, I’ll post an update most weeks about what I’ve been doing with my hour. The logged hours can be seen on in the following chart, which I’ll summarize once the season is over.


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