It’s Organic September this month, and what better way than to go organic than to grow your own veg? We’ve already created a guide to growing vegetables as a beginner, but what should you do with all the excess produce? Here are our top tips for putting every last carrot and onion to good use.
1. Preserving and Pickling
Once you’ve got a veg patch, it won’t be long until you’ve committed to the full The Good Life experience. You’ll find that you seem to have an abundance of produce that all seems to arrive at the same time. One way to keep it from spoiling is to preserve it.
Soft fruits can be easily made into jam; onions and carrots into chutney; and many fruits and vegetables can be pickled. Think outside the box, have a go at pickling a cauliflower with chillies, peppers and celery to make a spicy or sweet Italian sandwich topping known as Giardiniera.
Check out your local foodbank. Some of them take fresh fruit vegetables and would be very happy to receive some homegrown produce! Use an app like Olio to share food that would normally go to waste, or check out The Trussel Trust website to find your nearest foodbank.
Friends and family will no doubt be very impressed by your green thumbs, and would be happy to sample the ‘fruits’ of your labour. Build veg boxes for your them! New neighbours? They’d appreciate some free ingredients, and if nothing else, you’ll put a smile on their face.
In the same vein as preserving, most fruit and vegetables can be easily frozen for later use. Freeze berries on baking paper on a tray in a single layer, then once they’re solid, scrape them off and bag them up. Root vegetables like carrots need blanching first, but will just as easily freeze. Check out this list to see if it’ll freeze.
Join some local groups, get talking to people in your local community and other growers. Before long you’ll find that you’ve got to know a wide range of people with an even wider range of skills and trades. Talk to them about trading some of your extra vegetables for some of their surplus of eggs; trade your excess potatoes for a jar or two of local honey; exchange artichokes for artwork, the possibilities are endless!
If all else fails and you absolutely can’t find somebody willing to take free, organic vegetables off your hands (maybe you live in complete solitude in the Outer Hebrides), and you are unable to eat all of the produce yourself, then put those nutrients back into the earth. Your produce came from the ground, so turning it into compost and using it to feed new plants next year is a good way of completing the circle.
Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter our competition to find Britain’s Most Beautiful Garden here!