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Diggers Rest – Healthy junk food? Eco gardening tips; Kale with Hijiki
August 04, 2012

August 2012 Issue #84


What fun that we both love gardening. Thanks for joining me.

1) Healthy junk food?
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Kale with Hijiki

As with life, so too with gardening...

"Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it."

Child's birthday party – Jessie and Ethan

Healthy junk food?

A child's birthday party with vegetables? Hit me over the head with wet lettuce leaves please!

I've just had 2 weeks in Sydney, Australia, where my granddaughter went to a 3yr old friend's birthday party. It was in the ground floor of a large building/warehouse called 'Clown Town' and wowee, did it bounce, buzz, bang, fizz and pop with colour, noise and entertainment.

There were lots of birthday parties being hosted there and each birthday group also had their own room for their celebrations, with a table on which were vivid looking jellies, juice, lollies, chips, cheese balls, and various other deep fried or sugary shapes.

A magician came in to get them all revved up and yelling, with lolly prizes; and at the end a fairy came in with an ice-cream cake.

WE SURVIVED Clown Town, reeling out of there to the real world... and home to some real food!

There's nothing junky about these ideas for getting children to eat vegetables, click vegetable tips for kids

Eco gardening tips

  • Flakey bio-plastic bags:
    These biodegradable plastic bags have an unintended consequence. They disintegrate into little shiny pieces which catch my eye and order me to pick them up.

    I'm not kidding... I had a folded bio-plastic bag buried in the bottom of my handbag. I recently turned my bag upside-down to give it a good cleanout, and all these floaty, shiny flakes fluttered everywhere. They stuck to my clothes, the carpet, furniture and walls. I'm still finding them.

    The tip is—do not store these bio bags to use later. The other tip is that if you think you have money in your handbag, you do, but it's the lowest denomination and (in my case) always mixed with seeds, shells, pebbles and other little collectables of nature!

  • Olfactory testing:
    I see people at the markets sniffing melons, looking for the sweetest. The order of nature is that once fully ripe, melons and other fruits have a lovely sweet aroma, which in turn attracts creatures to eat them. This scatters the seeds and so helps the plant reproduce.

    Many gardeners smell their soil. It's obvious if something's sour or bad, and so like melons, we should be able to detect sweet, good soil.

    Good soil should crumble and have air spaces, not be compacted and deprived of oxygen. There should be microscopic life, which in turn encourages larger life forms like worms, beetles, spiders and other crawlies. Is your soil alive and breathing—does it smell nice? See what your nose says.

  • Herbal water:
    Often you need to prune your herbs to encourage new growth. Wrap these prunings in cotton and tie under the hot tap when running a bath. Adults and children love the wafting scent in their baths. For refreshing foot baths, pour hot water over herbs in a small basin or pot first, then add to your foot bath later.

    You can also add this cooled herbal water to a spritzer bottle to give yourself a cool spray anytime and help moisten your skin before adding any skin cream.

    Kale with Hijiki

    Kale steamed with seaweed

    Credit: World's Healthiest Foods

    This easy-to-prepare recipe offers an exciting twist to kale with the flavor and extra benefits of hijiki seaweed. It is a complement to just about any Asian-flavored meal.


    • 450gms (1 lb kale)
    • 1 Tbsp dried hijiki* (or arame if you prefer), soaked in 1 cup warm water
    • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
    • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
    • ½ Tbsp minced fresh ginger, minced or chopped finely
    • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 tsp sesame seeds.
    *(Try and get certified organic seaweed to minimise the risk of heavy metal contamination, such as with arsenic.)


    • Rinse and soak hijiki while preparing rest of ingredients.
    • Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water.
    • While steam is building up, slice kale leaves into 1/2-inch slices, and cut again crosswise. Cut stems into 1/4-inch.
    • Chop or press garlic and let sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out its hidden health benefits.
    • Place chopped kale in steamer and steam for no more than 5 minutes.
    • While kale is steaming, whisk together soy sauce, pressed garlic, minced ginger, olive oil, salt and pepper.
    • After squeezing excess water from the hijiki, add hijiki to the dressing.
    • In a bowl, toss kale with the dressing and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

    Preparation & cooking time: 15 minutes
    Serves: 4

    Happy gardening,

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