A Rind is a Terrible thing to Waste

A rind is a terrible thing to waste…and my thoughts on a different kind of pesto.

My late grandfather used to wear a shirt that on one side read “Worms eat my garbage” and on the other it read “A rind is a terrible thing to waste.” Pretty cool, huh?

Well, I always thought it was cool. So maybe my definition of “cool” is a little different than yours. Whatever.

As his shirt indicated, Grandpa had a worm composting bin, known to worm wranglers as vermiculture. He would use the resulting casings on his garden, and the stuff worked wonders. I’ve never ventured into the realm of vermiculture, but I do compost practically everything from yard waste to food scraps. I hate wasting stuff, and composting really limits waste. It is also easier than trying to cram a bunch of stuff in the tiny green waste bin. I’ve wasted many a ten minutes jamming a shovel in the stupid thing like a man witch over a cauldron trying to cram leaves down. Not a fan. But the compost pile—back to that.

Many of my fellow gardeners are the same way. It makes sense, really. When you pour so much of your sweat, tears and occasionally, blood (pruning shears are very sharp and I am easily distra—SQUIRREL!), you are far less inclined to waste anything–even dead pea vines, leaves, or old non-producing squash plants. And wasting food at all is obviously a big no no, if one can help it.

Take carrots for example. Home grown carrots make store-bought carrots taste like carrot flavored wood pulp. So when you successfully grow amazing Nantes carrots by some sweet miracle, you’ll make darned sure that each morsel of that carrot is well used.

I was listening to NPR one day when the guest made a comment that one could actually eat carrot tops, and she even made pesto sauce. Heh?

At the time of said show, I was growing Nantes carrots. And there was indeed a sweet miracle in that I was actually growing them successfully for the first time ever. I’d tried many times before, but no luck at all.


So I had a ton of these amazing, sweet carrots with bright green carrot tops (the so-named comedian is clearly not a gardener). And I got to cooking.



I love the ethereal beauty of my food processor in this lighting…actually I just have a dirty iPhone camera lens.

I used my standard pesto technique. I say “technique” because I can never remember recipes. Don’t judge, it works for me. Said standard technique consists of shoving basil, nuts, garlic, salt and olive oil in a food processor and blending until it tasted right. Except I used carrot tops, minus the stems, and the nuts were cashews. I used this as a base for barbecued pesto pizza and every single person I served it to told me they preferred it to the basil version. To this day, I use basil in tomato sauce, in salads, and in a number of other culinary pursuits. But not pesto. Domek pesto is now made with carrot tops.


This is the first three of many bags of frozen carrot top pesto sauce in the Domek freezer

Eating carrot tops isn’t going to save the world exactly. It does make my eating habits a little more sustainable though. The space where I might’ve grown a ton of basil for pesto can now be occupied by an herb garden or a few more pepper plants. And I have to buy a little bit less that has to be transported overland to feed my family.

So what does this have to do with composting, you may ask? Good question! Remember when I mentioned that I had never grown carrots successfully before? Well, I happened to amend that planter bed with a significant amount of my homemade compost. Nothing else different, but that was enough and PRESTO (or should I say PESTO!)…carrots!

I apologize for that joke. It was awful. It really wasn’t very aPEELing…ok, that’s it. No more puns.

If you are interested in starting to compost, there are many different websites and guidebooks to get you started. Or you could do what I do—take all coffee grounds, lawn clippings, and kitchen scraps that aren’t meat, dairy or oily and toss them in a large black compost bin outside. Moisten it occasionally. Turn it every few weeks. I’m sure better gardeners have more exact formulas, but this has worked for me. If I’ve ever overthunk anything, composting would not be it. Hopefully you won’t either.

So yeah, a rind is a terrible thing to waste. As are carrot tops. Again, I apologize for the jokes, but I can’t seem to stop. I really must get to the ROOT of this problem someday…

Much love.



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