Sunday, 8 September 2013

My unexpected Zero Waste Week harvest

Proper gardeners & allotmenteers won't particularly be that impressed by the produce to the left, but I am absolutely surprised by the results, in a good way.

For this is yesterday's haul from my garden and for a non-committed and fair-weather gardener like me, the results have been encouraging...

... with the exception of that bowl of potatoes, the only harvest that came from three abandoned potato plants.  However,  I am surprised we had any at all and as I'd forgotten to buy extra spuds yesterday, these were a welcome and unexpected addition to today's lunch.

The blackberries are a real surprise this year, especially after I deliberately hacked back the bramble to clear some space.  I hadn't quite expected nature to love my brutality so much and as a result we've picked several bowlfuls of blackberries over late summer.   After such great results, I'm now planning to take the loppers to it again and see if we can create the same harvest next year.

And as for those tomatoes, having only planted 6 cherry tomato plants in late spring/early summer, since the first one ripened about 10 days ago, I'm delighted to have collected a small bowl of ripe tomatoes every other day.   We normally have to ripen any tomatoes that we grow using the banana in a bag trick, which can be dispiriting, so this has been a fantastic surprise ~ especially for a tomato fiend like me.

But the greatest unexpected treat of all has been that bucket of apples.  Having planted the tree seven years ago, each year it has disappointed with small offerings that are populated with unwelcome creatures that eat the apples from within.

For the very first year ever,  this summer has provided a bucketful of apples that are a decent size and the majority of which are bug free.  As it happens, the tree was pruned last year too and with great weather, finally it seems to have worked.

But of course, as Zero Waste Week comes to an end, the issue at the forefront of my mind is storage and preservation so that we can make the most of our apple harvest. I would hate for any of it to go to waste.  So, having followed Love Food Hate Waste's advice for years, it was a 'no brainer' to store as many as I could in the fridge for future inspiration. A Twitter conversation on the topic also brought tips from @melaniebbikes whose advice led to stewing some to add to the freezer.  I also liked this tip too, which I'm going to try another day.

Collecting so much produce from our small garden this week has made me much more aware of the rewards in growing even just a few things that save food miles and packaging ~ and for very little effort too.  It would have been such a wasted opportunity not to have planted those tomatoes. Pot luck was definitely on our side.

Meanwhile, to prove that sweet things pictured above aren't just for dessert, I cooked up some of yesterday's blackberries, added some chopped apples, a few veteran spring onions, a handful of mint from the garden and pepper seasoning, creating a great sauce to accompany today's lamb. 

Now that was another unexpected Zero Waste Week result!

So with Zero Waste Week 2013 almost over,  I hope you've had a great week yourself.   If you've missed it and want to catch up with all the news, visit, where there are lots of tips.  Those of you who are particularly enthused may even want to sign up for The Rubbish Diet and see how much further you can reduce your waste over the next eight weeks.  If you haven't tried it yet,  do sign up at

But before I sign off, perhaps I should confess to our own food waste tally.  We didn't quite get to zero, but we didn't do badly.  I have no qualms in blaming most of it on the kids, with the abandoned Toasthenge, a few dregs of bottom-of-the-bowl-moist-cereal, a tiny bitesize piece of bagel, a small amount of pasta that competed with an unusual lack of appetite and some unappealing leftover fries from an emergency fast food pitstop this evening.  Sadly my own contribution was some very burnt stewed plums which I'd forgotten that I'd left on the hob during school pick-up on and my two slices of bread with mouldy measels.  All the above, of course, have been fed to the worms, so nothing has gone to landfill.

Huge thanks to Rachelle Strauss of MyZeroWaste for all of her hard work and inspiration in running another successful and well supported campaign.  Such a great start to September!


Eco Thrifty Living said...

That fruity sauce looks delicious! I'll have to remember that one!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Thanks - it was inspired by a strawberry salad I recently had at our local Picturehouse cafe. The combination of sweet fruit, a variation on chopped onion plus a peppered flavour is unexpectedly great. Very pleased that my experiment with the apple and blackberries worked. :)

Hazel said...

I agree with Melanie on twitter- herb jellies are delicious and very useful (I especially like and use mint jelly. My experiment to use up the masses of chives in the garden made a less successful jelly...) I add a spoonful to gravies and casseroles and spread in sandwiches (even cheese). If you make plain apple jelly you can glaze tarts, add to pies or even dilute to drink as cordial!
I hate using 'good' apples on it though- it feels like a waste! I try to use windfalls or apples you see in boxes by peoples gates, begging you to take some!

Nina said...

Hi Karen,

It's been a great year for foraged apples too. For the first time I've tried drying them in rings in the left over oven heat after other cooking. Takes about 4 hours with the fan left on.(or a warm window)They will go leathery when done.
Absolute treat this year was wild cherries! pounds of them.4lbs are bubbling nicely for wine, 4lbs made jam and 4 lbs in the freezer. The few left over are in brandy, for cherry brandy at the end of the year! Yum!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Thanks Hazel - I like the idea of using some as a cordial. Definitely something for me to explore. :)

Thanks Nina - I am going to try making some apple rings. Just need to be around long enough so may have to wait until the weekend. I don't want a repeat of my burnt stewed plums, lol. Great result with the cherries. :)

Jen said...

I agree that planting cherry tomatoes vs large tomatoes are better bang for your buck. As the owner of a lone plum tree that has yet to produce a single blossom, I'm pretty impressed with your apples.

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