We Too Frequently Complain That Crops Are Going To Seed, Flowering Or Past Their Best. Here’s How To Conquer Gardening Food Waste and Enjoy Every Bite Sized Garden Vegetable.

My leeks are going to seed. What a waste.

How To Conquer Gardening Food Waste - beetroot leaves

Of course leeks, left unharvested, always go to seed eventually, that’s nature. But this year they are going to seed earlier than normal, before I’d normally harvest them. What a waste?

No, not really. They aren’t wasted at all. They can still be harvested and eaten. As can so may other plants I see condemned to the waste bin or compost heap when they could be eaten. Somewhere I saw a figure that claimed that 30% of the food we buy goes to waste. It seems high, but maybe some people waste more than I do!

As for the percentage of food waste compared with what is grown it is clearly going to be higher. There are the obvious unavoidable bits such as all the outer leaves when we harvest a cauliflower. And all the leaves when we trim down a leek. And when we get the food into the kitchen there’s waste when we peel potatoes, parsnips and carrots.

Plus there is spoilage during transport and all the cooked food we throw away. This makes me think we waste far too much of the food we have spent months growing. So what can we do?

Adopting a Waste Free Mindset

Most of the waste we produce is due to our mindset. When a potato is peeled we throw the peelings away. Do we really need to do this? Could we have a more biointensive ands sustainable mindset?

Of course the peelings can go on the compost heap, so isn’t totally wasted, its recycled back into the garden. But surely we can do better than that?

In many cases we don’t need to peel potatoes. Just give them a good scrub and cook them in their skins which is fun of nutrition and fibre. Alternatively use the skins to produce potato crisps. See the recipe below.

And what about adopting a mindset that says that the flowers from brassicas are delicious?

A lot of my greenhouse brassica crops, once the leaves have been picked as salads, eventually go to seed. They produce beautiful yellow flowers on crunchy stems and can be eaten raw in salads where they add colour. My local oriental shop sells them like this and my Asian friends love them. They complain that supermarkets never stock them and they over to go to Asian stores to buy them.

And what about the leaves of all those root crops we grow? For example a few beetroot leaves can be harvested from the growing crop without causing too much harm. And if the crop goes overmature and a bit woody that’s a good time to focus on getting a crop of delicious and colourful beetroot leaves fro salads and pestos.

And don’t forget all those cabbage, cauliflower and sprout stems that get thrown away. The core of the stems is luscious. I use it in dishes such as Singapore noodles where it adds a peppery and crunchy freshness. Or just lightly stemmed or microwaved with a roast where it is wonderful. Why waste such a dainty dish! Or add it to a salad such as in the recipe below.

What about those leeks that are prematurely going to seed? Easy. Harvest and cut into short section, rounds, then freeze ready for soup making. Alternatively, sauté long and slow in red wine to make a delicious accompaniment to roasts.

Finally, don’t forget your seedlings.

If you have spare plants and no one to give them to, eat them. All the leftover module grown seedlings I have end up up in salads. They tend to be much stronger flavoured and a delight to eat.

How To Conquer Gardening Food Waste – My Favourite Recipes

Brassica Stem Salad


The core of any brassicas

A handful of radish or mooli

A bunch succulent home grown coriander

Salt and Pepper as needed

A hint of soy sauce

Olive oil


Using a mandolin or knife finely slice the radish and brassica core.

Add the coriander

Mix with soy sauce and a little olive oil.


Use a mix of honey and citrus juice instead of soy and olive oil. O

Or add orange segments and honey.

Potato Peeling Crisps

These are great with a galas of something before dinner.


Vegetable peelings

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil


Air dry the peelings of potatoes, parsnips or carrots.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oil.

Place in a hot oven and crisp them up.

To ensure even drying and crispness ensure you turn the peelings from time to time. And there’s no need to put an oven on specially to cook the the crisps. Use the residual heat when the oven ids cooling from batch cooking something else.


Add some chilli flakes to the peelings .. or other dried spices.

Duck fat adds loads of flavour but is quite fattening and decadent.

You could also use a deep fat fryer at around 160C to crisp the peelings.

Beetroot Leaf Pesto

This is great on pasta.


A large handful of young, succulent beet leaves.

Handful of almonds or pine nuts

Parmesan cheese .. as much as you like!

2-3 cloves of garlic

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

The amounts of each ingredient isn’t vital. Experiment and use what works for you.


Blend the leaves, cheese, nuts and lemon until you have a finely chopped mixture to your liking.

With he blender still running on slow trickle in the oil until you get a smooth paste to your liking.

Taste and adjust, adding salt to taste.

Toss the pesto with your warm pasta.


Use as a dip for crudités .. or spread on fresh bread to biscuits.

Add a few black olives in the original mix!


This one is simple. Just take a mix of veg and simmer until soft. Blend. Add salt and pepper as required.

Eat, freeze or even bottle.

Vegetable Stock

Take mixed veg or even peelings.

Simmer for a while.

Strain and reduce the liquid.

Don’t season as the seasonings get concentrated as it’s reduced.

Freeze in suitable size batches depending on concentration. I tend to use ice cube trays, but do reduce it a lot.

Can be used fresh as well.

More Recipes on How To Conquer Gardening Food Waste

I’ll be adding more recipes to help conquer waste in the near future. Feel free to suggest your favourites in the comments section.

Take Food Waste Action

As well as cutting down your own waste why not look at Food Action Waste Week 2024?

Food Waste Action Week will run from Monday 4th – Sunday 10th March 2024.

Join the Facebook Groups Here

To join the How to Dig For Victory Facebook group follow the link.

And here is the link to UK Garden Flowers, Trees, Shrubs & More

#BiteSizedGardening #Gardening #Vegetables #veg #fruitandveg #allotment #biointensive

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