Keeping notes throughout the season is the best way to understand what you’re growing, how your crop responds to the prepared soil and nutrients provided, what energy costs are, etc. Otherwise, you run the risk of continuing bad habits and losing money without even knowing it. The perfect solution is to be critical and honest with yourself while identifying what your crops truly yield. If not, you’ll revert to the same seed catalog early next year and spend money on items you shouldn’t.
Each growing season is hardly similar to the one that preceded it, but the challenges of pest/disease levels, irrigation systems, fertility requirements and harvest storage strategies must always be considered. Were there certain crops that developed any pest or disease issues? Could the crop layouts within your greenhouse be better designed to fit more varieties? If you tried anything new in your soil preparation, did your fruits or vegetables have a positive or negative response to it? Asking these simple questions go a long way in making educated guesses down the road.
Let’s say your broccoli harvest was a big hit at this year’s farmer’s market and the customer feedback was extremely positive. Soon enough, other farmers grew envious of your broccoli harvest. It’s easy to see why a broccoli harvest for next year is to be expected. But what if you decide to do kale next season instead? It’d be a puzzling decision because your customers just loved your broccoli. But there’s more than what meets the eye.
Think of it this way -- broccoli heads traditionally yield one harvest a year while kale leaves are available all summer long. If you replaced that very plot with kale, the value of that area suddenly skyrocketed because it no longer yields just one harvest a year. While harvest records will reflect a larger profit margin, you also just increased the productivity of your greenhouse crop layout. This is critical for growers that utilize a smaller greenhouse because space is limited and therefore valuable.
Reviewing growth rates, seed catalog prices, resistance to insects and disease and understanding customer feedback each go hand-in-hand with active record keeping. It can be tedious but it serves as the first proactive step in making sure you’re getting the most out of your annual harvest.