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Diggers Rest, Issue #010 -Gardening by the Moon explained, vegetable cobbler recipe
November 11, 2005

A free monthly resource of gardening tips, recipes and reminders to make your garden grow!

November 11, 2005 Issue #10


The no dig garden website is a venture into publishing on a topic I love. Thanks for joining me on the adventure! I'd love to have your feedback.
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In this issue:

1) Gardening by the moon explained
2) In the garden this month
3) Recipe: Vegetable Cobbler

Gardening by the Moon

Every long term gardener has their own tips and tricks on how to get best results in a garden. Tips they swear by even though there may be no scientific data to back them up.

One such tip is gardening by the phases of the moon. There is logic in this method of gardening. The moon has an effect on weather patterns, ocean tides and even human behaviour. So why not plants?

The moon's phases are described in four parts, first quarter, second, third and fourth. The first two quarters are waxing (increasing) phases and the two latter quarters are waning (diminishing) phases. The cycle lasts 29 days. The full moon as marked on a calendar is the demarcation between the two types of phases.

So how does this all relate to your garden? Well, in the waxing phase, the theory is that the water table rises and plants take up nutrients faster, making it an ideal time to plant. The waning phase is much better for pruning and weeding as the water table is lower and things like tree sap run much slower.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that harvests are larger and plants don't go to seed as quickly if planted in the appropriate cycle.

So, quarter by quarter, here is what you should do if you'd like to garden by the moon...

Quarter 1: The start of the waxing phase with the new moon is the best time to plant above ground leafy vegetables. Plants that respond well during this quarter include broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, celery and cauliflower. The water table is rising and the plants will take up nutrients and germinate quickly.

Quarter 2: The gravitational pull of the moon is less but the additional light theoretically aids leafy growth. Vegetables that respond well to being planted in this phase include those that form internal seeds like beans, peas, tomatoes and vine crops. The second quarter is also where vegetables should be harvested. This is when their moisture is at its peak.

Quarter 3: Just past the full moon, the water table is dropping and growth is slowing. This is the best phase for planting root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets and onions. It's also a great time to do any pruning in the garden that is needed. The cut ends will lose less moisture or sap during this period.

Quarter 4: A dormant period and no planting, harvesting or pruning should be carried out. This time is best used for weeding, turning the compost and other garden chores.

Give it a shot. You may be surprised.

In the Garden This Month

Northern Hemisphere:

If you are in a cold zone or even a temperate zone, you are almost certainly resting your garden at the moment. Cold weather is either here or on the way. As the mafia guys say 'fergetaboudit'. Rest, relax and in a month or so, start thinking about what you will do next year.

Make some diary notes about what happened in your garden last season and try to identify problems and potential solutions for next year. Don't repeat your mistakes. Now is the time to reflect, research and rectify, before it becomes a distant memory.

If you are in a tropical zone there are still plenty of things you can be planting. Check out the sowing guides for your area.

Southern Hemisphere:

Here we go. The garden should be well underway now. Spring growth is vulnerable to all sorts of pests that are about and active now.

Use simple, effective, organic spray solutions to deter garden pests with items you almost certainly have around the house. Control recipes are here

Put marigolds or nasturtiums around some of your garden edges to attract bees. They won't take a lot of space (although the nastutiums will wander) and can help deter some pests. And they add colour where there isn't much yet. A win-win-win solution.

Keep your beds fertilised and watered. If you are in an area with water restrictions think about recycling some of your grey water from the kitchen or shower. It's important not to use any grey water that has chemicals or phosphorus in it, but a little forethought can make a little water go a long way.

Just 5% of the water we use in the home is for drinking, so water wise is water wonderful. Click here for simple homemade fertiliser recipes

Feature Recipe: Vegetable Cobbler

This is a wonderful one dish meal. A vegetable stew with light tea biscuits around the edge as topping.

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion peeled and chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 zucchini (courgette) trimmed and sliced
2 sticks celery washed and chopped
1 cup mushrooms sliced
3 tomatoes skinned and quartered
1 can (475g) cassoulet beans
salt and pepper to taste


3/4 cup plain wholewheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup cheddar cheese grated
1 egg beaten
2-3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 220C (425F). Melt butter in a large fry pan, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and cook a further 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini, celery and mushrooms, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, beans and salt and pepper to taste.

To make the topping, mix the flours with baking powder, a pinch of salt and mustard powder. Rub in the butter until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs, stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and then bind together with the beaten egg and enough milk to make a dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 3/4 inch thick and stamp out 10-12 rounds about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Spoon the vegetables into an ovenproof dish and top around the edge with the dough rounds, overlapping them slightly to make a crust. Brush the rounds with milk and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes and serve hot.

Happy Gardening!

Judy Williams

Copyright J.L. Williams 2005

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