The Garden Harvest Totals. My 600 Pound Life.

 I planted my garden in the spring, tended to it all summer and harvested most of it in the fall. I dealt with snakes, dirt, the dreaded hornworm, maggots, bands of marauding mink and near hurricane force wind (too many cruciferous vegetables).  Now comes the hard part.  Eating it all.

My Mudroom Pantry

I don’t like brussels sprouts.  You know this about me.  You also know I’m not right in the head.  Which is why it makes perfect sense that I would dedicate 32 square feet of my garden to growing the stink monster brussels sprouts.  No it doesn’t *actually* make sense but neither does storing enough fabric to sew a quilt big enough to cover the ever chilly Iceland.  Yet that’s exactly how much fabric most quilters own.


The question I am most asked about my garden is WHAT do you do with all the food?  I, (and this is going to sound ridiculous, but) … I eat it.

About half of the food gets preserved, frozen or dried and the rest gets stored fresh.  How much food?  A lot of food.  If I were the sort of person to actually have dinner parties instead of thinking about having dinner parties I’d serve a lot of squash for instance.  Because I grew 71 pounds of squash this year.  For myself.

Potatoes? Yeah, I grew a few of those too.  Just in case.  Chances are there won’t be a world potato shortage and chances are I won’t be called in to do an emergency sculpture out of mashed potatoes for a World Renowned Fall Fair during the time of the shortage, but …  it seems best to be prepared just in case.

Just to be on the safe side you understand.

After my final weigh in, here are the totals of the main crops I grew for fresh storage this year.

Garden Harvest Weights

Pounds Grown

Potatoes – 150

Squash – 68

Sweet Potatoes – 20

Carrots – 20

Beets – 15

Onions – 20

Garlic – 10

Brussels Sprouts – I, um, haven’t exactly found the time to harvest them yet.

Total: 300 pounds

I estimate I grew around 300 pounds of zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, strawberries, corn, and cabbage.

That means my total vegetable harvest for 2018 was a minimum of 600 pounds.

I’m wildly curious to find out if I eat it all myself will I gain 600 pounds?  That would be awful on so many levels, not the least of which is the fact that mashed potato sculpture is a sport that requires surprising agility.

The harvest is spread around my entire house.  I have dried beans ready to be plucked out of their pods on the counter, sweet potatoes in a plastic bucket curing near a heat vent and chili peppers hanging off of cupboards to dry.

The sweet potatoes will become Guaranteed Crispy Sweet Potato fries, the squash will become pumpkin ravioli and roasted squash soup with apples.  I’ll keep the hot peppers whole and then either chop them for pepper flakes or reconstitute them in water for cooking with.

The workhorse of most kitchens – garlic.  I’ll roast it, crush it, mince it and slice it.  I have one braid of it hanging in my mudroom but most of it is stored in my pantry with everything else.


My Favourite Recipes for the Garden Harvest

Sweet PotatoesGuaranteed Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

CarrotsSzechwan Carrot Soup

Potatoes Gnocchi with sage and browned butter

SquashPumpkin Ravioli

I’ll get back to you on the weight of those brussels sprouts.  Even though if someone asks me whether I like them I still say “No, I hate them, do you like them, because if you do i will always be highly suspicious of you”.  BUT I will eat them when they’re done like this.  Mind you I’d also eat toes if they were deep fried and covered in a honey mustard sauce.

Have a good weekend and don’t forget to keep up to date on on  The Christmas Pledge because December is meant for fighting with family, not strangers in mall parking lots.


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  1. Sarah says:

    We started weighing our produce several years ago because I compete with myself so much. I have a weighing station just outside the door and a small scale inside for small things. We even weigh our herbs when we do a large harvest. We keep a flow sheet and write it all down every day. Last year was our largest, just over one thousand pounds! We can, freeze and dehydrate. And eat it all. We share berries with family because who can eat 150 pounds of blackberries? Gene tore out two of the six plants so there should be less this year. I am really enjoying your blog.

  2. Eva Tovstiga says:

    Hey Karen,
    Your stories of your garden this spring and summer inspired me. Since I live in Arizona now we plant in the fall and around February so about a month ago I emptied my compost pile (which I have basically ignored other than dumping more stuff on top for more than…ummm, about a year or two) and dug it into my tiny garden. It’s been rewarding to watch everything grow despite what I call my “black” thumb.
    I should be harvesting the first of the lettuces and smaller things in about a month or so!
    Thanks for making me laugh with your stories and inspiring me!
    I printed out the Christmas pledge and am actually doing things on it, what a wonderful idea!

  3. Janet says:

    Thank you for the recipe links and showing how beautifully a harvest can be displayed while still being practical. I’m looking forward to making some new meals this week!

  4. Hey Karen! Know when the heavens open and angels start singing? That kinda happened when I stumbled upon your perfectly, ridiculously realistic musings about this creative and haphazard gardening/cooking/making existence we call life. …what was I going to say??? Oh, probably thank you, first of all- it’s a very good thing that you are doing- the sharing part, at least. And, oh yeah- an idea- because I bet you’d do it well- and perhaps already have- I’d love to see how you make the most of the crissity cross hybrids that come from planting too many cucurbit types in too close proximity. Oh, I’m not asking you to waste garden space, really- but doesn’t it happen to you too?? This year I planted Baby Boo pumpkins too close to loofahs. Know what I got? Neither do I. They’re long and white but seem neither edible nor easily carvable. And of course they were some of the most prolific damn plants I’ve ever grown in my life. Thank you, worm compost. So now what? I’ve got like 100 lbs of one kind of fall decor? Alas, to the worms they will go. Cheers!

    • Punkie says:

      We have that happen to us. We call ours pumzinnies. They come out long almost oval shape, but not quite. They have stems like a pumpkin. They are orange like a pumpkin. I think you can eat them. Great for carving. Will add pic of I can remember. Nice to know we aren’t the only ones this happens to.

  5. leo muzzin says:

    Next season I am going to make it a point to weigh my harvest and try to assign a dollar value to it just to see if I am covering the cost of seeds etc. Regardless of what that turns out to be, the enjoyment I get out of a gardening is awesome!

  6. Grammy says:

    Oops — forgot to say to Karen how impressed (and jealous) I am for her harvest! Life in the Art of Doing Stuff house inspires us all.

  7. Punkie says:

    I am in the middle of harvesting my loofahs right now. I think I came across your site last year or the year before while trying to learn as much as possible about loofahs when I decided to grow them. What I didn’t realize then, but I discovered a few days ago is that you have so much more information about all kinds of gardening and other stuff like homemade vanilla, which I can’t wait to try making. My health is not the best. I am limited in what I am allowed to do. The garden is where I go to escape. Finding you and your crazy funny sense of humor has just added a sense of fun that I have been missing for a long time. Gardening is really hard work, but so rewarding when you best all the little buggers that thawrt every effort to keep your garden alive. I actually laugh while reading what you write. I never thought to weigh everything we grew this year. I’m go glad I found you. Happy eating. Punkie. P.s. I will post a pic of all of my loofah when I finish picking them. Last year we ended up with 4 or 5. The year before that one little plant lived. It wouldn’t grow and it wouldn’t die. It stayed 3 inches tall. Very disappointing. This year I may get 40. Also, for other readers, don’t count on seeds from a grower being viable. I learned how to tell if your seeds are good at all before you put them in the ground. It turned out that my seeds from last year’s loofah were better than the ones we paid for. Most of those seeds were no good. It sure saved me some grief to know this ahead of time. The test is drop your seeds in water for At least 15 minutes. If they sink they are good. If they float. No good.

    • Grammy says:

      I have had the same results from loofah seeds — the only ones I have ever had success with are harvested from the home-grown ones. After several failures many years ago with commercial seeds from reputable places, a friend with a big garden gave me one of her lovely, huge loofahs. I was careful to save the seeds when I prepared it for use in the bath (it was so large, I cut it into several good-sized pieces). I don’t grow them every year (don’t need to) but always just use seeds from the current crop for the next one.

  8. Linda says:

    Sure wish I had about 100 pounds of those brussel sprouts. I love them but I can’t afford them. I think I’m jealous.

  9. Patricia S. says:

    Find someone to take those Brussels sprouts!! I’m sure there are people in your vicinity who would love some. If I weren’t in FL, I’d come harvest them myself!

  10. MichelleR says:

    Off topic but just watched Lynne Knowlton’s tree house featured on Colin and Justin Great Canadian Cottages. What a beautiful and serene place.

  11. Paula says:

    My question was about curing the Sweet Potatoes but I saw someone else already asked the question and when I followed the link in your reply, I realised that I had already read that particular post. This again confirms that I have a memory like a sieve.
    Anyway, no wood fireplace here but propane, do you suppose that might work? Also I have had my SP harvested for about a month, do you think it is too late to cure them? I look at them every time I go past them in the mudroom (heated) and think to myself “I have to cure those” but not knowing exactly how; they are still sitting there.

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. Well, the biggest part of the first part of curing them is maintaining the humidity so the sweet potatoes don’t shrivel up. If they were in a big bucket or bunch in the mudroom then they’ll kind of had those conditions If there was some sort of lid or cover on them even better. Basically the window has kind of passed but they have been cured a bit just by being in the warm room. For long term storage they like to be between 12-15 celsius. ~ karen!

  12. Susan Sidell says:

    Brussels sprouts are done to perfection when tossed with some greens in a floral arrangement. That’s the only way I can enjoy them. Visually appealing.

  13. Erin says:

    Ugh. I totally get it. Every surface in our house is covered in produce. I cooked down the last of the hoop house tomatoes last weekend. Potatoes, garlic and winter squash have taken over the cold guest room. Cabbages and random turnips grace the mudroom. I’m trying my hand at a little facto-fermentation this weekend. Wish I had weighed the harvest – great idea!

  14. Beckie says:

    Leave the Brussels through a light frost or 2, it sweetens them!

  15. Carol Denney says:

    How do you store these vegetables especially the potatoes. We still have some in the ground deciding what we need to do to store them for the winter.

    • Karen says:

      Potatoes are just stored as you see them. In crates or wicker baskets in my mudroom which is kept at 5 C (40 degrees F). That’s the optimal temperature for storing potatoes. Everything else is different. Carrots and beets and other root vegetables are best stored in something that maintains their crispness through humidity so I store those in damp peat moss. You can see how I do it here. ~ karen!

  16. Sabina says:

    This year I’m finding several of my garlic heads have spoiled already. I have them stored in my basement in hanging mesh baskets. I’ve never had this problem before and this year I doubled my planting so I really don’t want to have this problem again, any advice Karen? Plan B is to just make a big pot of garlic soup with what I can salvage. I just hate buying garlic from who knows where in the store.

  17. Marna says:

    Wow that’s some haul! I love the variety you grew. I had a little of this and a bit of that, and a bucket full of Meyer lemons, enough for us. I have a small tree and a bush, they are the same size and have only had them for 3 years, had only a few of the large lemons the first year.

    • Karen says:

      Wow. To be able to grow lemons!!! ~ karen

      • Meg says:

        I do, inside!! You can grow them!!

        I love having them, even the *leaves* smell like lemon. They like a bit more humidity, but they do fine in a New England home in winter, even though it can get really dry. I grow them in a group with my other plants, so they form a little ecosystem that has a bit higher humidity than the other areas of the house. (I should say I put them in the sunniest spot possible, and also sometimes supplement light now, any lights really will do.) Grew them from a seed, from a big ol’ lemon off a friend’s lemon tree when I lived in L.A. Still waiting to find out if they flower/come true to the momma lemon tree!

        • Meg says:

          which obviously means maybe I can’t grow actual lemons because I haven’t actually done it…..but I’m hopeful because the plants seem happy. hahah!

  18. Scott says:

    In 2014 I harvested 850lbs of produce. That’s a lot for a single guy and his cat, even though Zebe loves fresh green beans. That’s the year I learned how to can. Most people would think I was crazy, but if anyone will understand my logic on this next part it might be you. “850 is a lot, but if I can squeeze in 250 more lbs I can brag that I grew half a ton.” That has been my unrealized goal since. 2015 I had a girlfriend. 2016 the weather was horrible and to many projects. 2017 I had a brain tumor. 2018 recovering from said brain tumor. Hopefully in 2019 I will achieve my goal and also finally finish eating everything I canned in 2014. I love your blog. A lot of times when I’m thinking about trying or learning something new you read my mind and post a blog about it.

  19. TucsonPatty says:

    I want some of the pototoes and just a little of the garlic, and I’ll be happy for the rest of my life. Well, actually if you had a cow for milk and butter with which to mash the lovelies, then I won’t ask for any thing more!
    BTW, why do you have to do the thing with the sweet potatoes?

  20. Ella says:

    Why do you have to cure sweet potatoes? Just curious…. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ella. When sweet potatoes come out of the ground they aren’t sweet. At all. They need to convert their starches to sugar which happens over several weeks after digging them up. Curing helps with that. It also gets them ready for long term storage by maintaining their moisture while hardening up their skins. The instructions for curing are at the bottom of this post. ~ karen!

  21. TucsonPatty says:

    Wow! I want just a few potatoes and some garlic, and I’ll do the rest. Wait – do you have a cow for milk and butter? Then I would be happy for the rest of my life. I’ll find somewhere to harvest some sea salt. Happy eating!

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