Monday, November 16

Mums the word this week

We managed a plot visit this week but only in order to harvest some fresh vegetables.

We have been watching War on Waste presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and I am afraid that neither our parsnips nor our carrots would pass muster and would be consigned to the rubbish dump. The supermarkets would consider them too small and ugly.

In fact most of what we grow would be too large, too small, too wonky or the wrong colour. Have you ever looked at an apple and thought "Oh dear that is too red, it will have to be composted" ? No neither have I but the supermarkets do!

Is this fussiness confined to UK supermarkets or are other parts of the world just as wasteful?
Well our vegetables may not suit the supermarkets but what they lack in commercially accepted beauty they make up for in taste. Amazingly taste doesn't seem to feature on the supermarket check list.

We harvested out first beetroots of the season. They were sown rather late but have produced reasonable sized roots.

Last year I wrote a post about keeping pot mums after they had finished flowering and then planting on the plot.
Last year during autumn we transferred them to the garden greenhouse and they provided a few cut flowers. In spring they were replanted in the plot where they made fairly large plants. This year, once the plot greenhouse was emptied of tomatoes, the plants were again planted in large boxes and taken inside.

I haven't disbudded them - which would have produced large flowers - so now they are producing lots of spray chrysanthemums.

I was lacking a white and a bronze variety and so when I spotted a white pot mum at the supermarket, it made its way into my trolley. So far my search for a bronze flowered plant has been fruitless.





26 comments:

  1. I don't care what the supermarkets say, your veggies look perfect to me. Mick's uncle grows chrysanths on his allotment so he provides me with lots of cut flowers at this time of year.

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    1. I think I remember you mentioning this before, Jo. Chrysanthemums and dahlias are very traditional plants for allotments. I'm guessing your uncle grows the larger flowered ones and spends lots of time disbudding them etc. They are beautiful flowers but Ilike the spray wants too and they require far less effort. :-)

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  2. What gorgeous mums!!
    And you are so correct--taste is NOT important to supermarkets. They're only interested in what can be picked fully "green" and shipped without damage. It's a sorry state. I'll take home grown ANY day!
    Have a wonderful week in the garden

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    1. They get away with the lack of taste, Sue for most people there is not a lot of choice in where they buy their vegetables. Also the lack of taste isn't obvious at first glance is it? You have to buy the produce first before you realise it doesn't have any flavour. Incredibly our greengrocer sells carrots that taste like carrots!

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  3. The relative cheapness of mass produced food and goods creates the perception that these things are low value and therefore disposable, despite the abundance of information about the huge human and environmental cost of such waste. However, it takes personal and institutional motivation and genuine effort to bring about wide spread change and I'm not sure there's much sign of that yet.

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    1. I think the problem is that not enough people really care as long as they have a ready supply of cheap fruit and vegetables, S and D.

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  4. I've just eaten a tasty apple which when cut into "quarters" had two tiny pieces and two very much larger ones definitely wonky but so what I'm not perfect either and hopefully nobody will put me on the dump pile! the satisfaction of home grown even if wonky fruit and veg is nowhere to be seen on supermarket shelves. Your harvest looks great to me.

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    1. Most of the apples we grow wouldn't meet supermarket standards either, Marygold. We often have blemishes on them and so as you do cut them in quarters just to make sure nothing is lurking inside which is the only major issue we have with strange looking apples. It certainly doesn't affect the taste.

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  5. I haven't been around for a while, but last year I followed your advice on the 'mums and ended up really extending their flowering, having blooms almost up to the requisite time this Autumn. Sadly, I forgot to water them and they are no more. Lesson learned.
    HFW has got us all talking, hasn't he? I think this whole nonsense of 'perfect' fruit and veg reaches all the way down even to many of the independents, mostly due to the wholesalers. I know many of my American friends find the same levels of perfection in their supermarkets too.

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    1. It's a shame about your mums maybe if you cooked them right back and give them a good water they will shoot agai.pn, Deborah. Or is it too late? You are absolutely right the wholesalers need to buck up their ideas to. Maybe if the small independent greengrocers sold wonky veg at a price cheaper than the supermarkets sell their perfect specimens they would give the supermarkets a run for their money.

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  6. Those mums are lovely! Such a nice variety of colors and shapes. We are so wasteful here in the U.S., from the farms and supermarkets to the restaurants and consumers. The amounts wasted are just staggering. We love our wonky, homegrown fruit and veggies here though and eat lots of them!

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    1. You would think that the wonky veg could be used elsewhere, Dave. For instance if they could be sold to companies making soups or ready meals. Blemished fruit could be used for juices and smoothies etc. For those types of things it is the flavour and not the look of the raw vegetables that counts and it would be far better than just putting them on compost or in incinerators.

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  7. I have seen some US bloggers writing about wonky veg recently, so I'm sure this a widespread issue. I dread to think what some people in the Third World think of our Western attitudes to food waste! One of my uncles used to have Nursery near Reading, on which he grew tomatoes and chrysanthemums. He always referred to the latter as "Chrysanths".

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    1. I also dread to think what those in this country who can't afford fresh fruit and veg think of the mountains of rejected produce.
      Chrysanthemum is still very much an in word as Jo's comment testifies.

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  8. I'd be thrilled to see fruit and vegetables that look "real" at the shops. The waste is utterly sickening. I've been harvesting all sorts of carrot shapes and sizes here (and cutting out the dodgy bits). I especially hate to waste anything I've spent time and effort growing myself! Love your chrysanthemums, especially the dark reds and the new white one.

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    1. The dark red is one of my favourite colours too, CJ.
      It must be really sickening for the producers to see piles of their efforts going to waste too.

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  9. I emailed Morrisons after those programmes and told them that strangely enough veg don't actually come out of the ground all perfect and that if they wanted to see for themselves that they was quite welcome to come to our allotment and see our wonky looking parsnips when we lift them in a few weeks time........haven't received a reply from them as yet......wonder why?! Xx

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    1. Don't expect a reply any time soon, Trudie. Although the program focused on Morrison's I don't necessarily think they are the worst offenders. Maybe we can produce some criteria for the perfect looking person and then line up all the supermarkets head people and fire any don't meet the criteria

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  10. Ditto on all the waste - our homegrown food may not look perfect but it is miles above most grocery stores in terms of taste & nutrients. I can't tell you how often I pick up some fruit - be it a melon or pineapple - that looks "perfect", but - as Sue pointed out - the taste is practically non-existent...bleh. I consider wonky veg as having character - who says uniformity is king? And those mums are lovely - impressive that you have been able to keep them over from last year - I don't think I've ever known anyone that did that.

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    1. Melons can be particularly disappointing, Margaret.
      I read ages ago that potmums had the roots treated to keep them a dwarf size but that this grows out after a time and the plants revert to a normal size which is what mine seem to do. It would be a shame to waste the plants by just throwing them away.

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  11. too red apple is waste? I'm shocked with supermarket policy! Anyway our vegetables have real taste that supermarket can't beat! ;)

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    1. So is it the same problem in your country too, Malar?

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  12. I wonder what it will take to change the supermarket policies? It is not as if customers who care can boycott the stores - most people don't grow their own food and still need to shop every week?

    I don't like or even use anti-social media but perhaps a mahoosive Facebook campaign might get their attention. Even then, supermarket buyers will only change their contracts if they can see a commercial advantage to themselves - hmm, perhaps that is the answer? The first big company to start being sensible might grab a whole load of good publicity and new customers??? Then the rest would have to follow.

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    1. There are campaigns on Facebook, Jayne but I really don't think a big enough number of people care enough.
      It's not really just the waste of the produce but think of all the vegetables that are grown unnecessarily to throw away and the amount of field space that is used to produce them.

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  13. It's awful to think how much waste supermarkets produce, and with so many starving too. I have NO doubt that your veggies buy and sell mass produced supermarket ones. It's the taste rather than how they look that matters!xxx

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    1. They certainly won't end up on the compost heap, Dina

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