Garbage Garden – Fall report and a recipe for pickled red onions

It is fall in my neck of the woods. Time to file my last garbage garden report.

According to the internet, you can gain your independence from your local grocery store while saving scads of money by simply regrowing produce on your window sill from your kitchen scraps. My garbage garden was an experiment to see if some of the methods recommended on the internet would work for me. Here is how it all turned out.

Romaine lettuce

I tried two different methods to grow romaine lettuce. The first method required me to start the stump of romaine in water and the other method saw me putting the stump of romaine straight into the dirt. Neither method worked particularly well. The romaine lettuce started off strong but then quickly withered and rotted away.

Conclusion: This experiment would work well with kids to teach them about growing food, especially during the winter when you need something to do. It is exciting to see how fast the leaves of romaine shoot up and you could grow enough to put on a sandwich. However, you will not get enough to feed your family and be independent from the grocery stores.

Celery

The internet advised growing celery by putting the stalk in a container of water. As with the romaine, you must watch for rot and mold. I eventually transplanted my celery out into my garden.

Conclusion: Meh.  My celery grew quite well but mine only produced a tall seedy stalk. Not enough for a round of cheese whiz with celery or really, even enough to add to a pot of soup.

Tomato:

After my failures with the romaine and celery, the tomatoes were an unexpected success. I buried tomato slices in potting soil in a container and then I pretty much forgot about them because I didn’t think they were going to grow. Several weeks later, I found the container I had abandoned in the wood shed only to discover that the tomato had sent up tiny green sprouts.

Baby tomatoes!

I planted these sprouts in my garden and they have been growing lustily ever since.

This is a picture of one of the surviving tomato plants. I don’t know if the fruit will have time to ripen on the vine as we could get frost any day now.

If you look really close, you can see the slightest blush of red.

Store bought tomatoes seem to be surprisingly vigorous. I found this guy growing from the scraps I put in my compost pile

Volunteer tomato plants. These guys just don’t quit!

Conclusion: Wow – I wish I had tried this experiment earlier in the year. This time the internet was right. Theoretically, I could grow enough tomatoes from a single store bough tomato to feed my family and neighbours all winter long.

Green Onions

The internet told me to set the white ends of my green onions in a glass of water for a perpetual supply of these small green treats.

Conclusion: This worked! And it works pretty well. Definitely a workable strategy for a window sill garden. If you eat a lot of green onions, I would recommend this method.

Red Onions:

I took home a couple of red onions from work that had sprouted. I cut them open and removed the tiny baby onions (sets) and planted them in my garden.

This is what I harvested:

Conclusion: This worked really well, maybe not as well as using onions sets from the nursery but I ended up with enough to make a jar of pickle red onions to enjoy this winter.

Pickled Red Onions

I used the recipe from Simple Seasonal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced (I used every thing I harvested)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ⅔ cup  sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pickling salt

I omitted some of the spices called for in the original recipe because (believe it or not) they were too hard to find in my neck of the woods. The original recipe also called for:

  • 8 peppercorns
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 4 thyme sprigs

I used a tablespoon of pickling spice instead.

Method:

  1. Cut onions into ¼ inch slices. I used a mandolin.

    The mandolin made quick work of the onions. I didn’t even have time to cry.

  2. Dissolve the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. I added the pickling spice as well. You can put the pickling spice into a little bag and let it infuse the vinegar before removing the bag. However, I like how the pickling spice looks in the jar so I just tossed it in.
  3. Add the onions to the saucepan and simmer on low for 5 minutes uncovered. If you are using thyme, add it for the last minute.

    Mix it all together

  4. Use a pair of sterilized tongs to pack the onions into canning jars. If you are using them, add the peppercorns and allspice to the jars.
  5. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath canner (adjusting for altitude)

I ended up with a single pint jar of pickled red onions for my troubles. There are only two of us and we don’t eat a lot of pickles so this single jar should do us for a while. Besides, it was free and I was able to repurpose food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Have you tried growing food from kitchen scraps? Leave a comment and tell me about your successes and failures.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Garbage Garden – Fall report and a recipe for pickled red onions

  1. I guess you know that green tomatoes will continue to ripen after you pick them if you put them on a sunny window sill but some of your readers may not know it. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your garbage garden experiment. Thank you for writing about it.

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    • Thanks Anita. I did know that tomatoes will ripen off the vine, I just hate doing it because it seems like an admission that summer is over. I know, picking my tomatoes will not change the weather. I don’t have that kind of power! 🙂

      Like

  2. Thank you for all this useful information! One big mistake I made was thinking how great it would be to have stinging nettles in a corner of my garden for making shampoo bars etc. so I transplanted a few from the forest and wham! They are everywhere— not my best idea. But too many tomatoes I wouldn’t mind at all…

    Liked by 1 person

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