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Diggers Rest – A new spring will come; Eco gardening tips; 17 Year Soup
March 28, 2020

March 2020 Issue #175


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

1) A new spring will come
2) Eco gardening tips
3) 17 Year Soup

Spring will come

Stayin' inside, stayin' inside? Gardeners' gotta garden but stay inside your own garden. Have a listen to this! Fabulous... Facebook – Stayin' inside

Eco gardening tips

  • Cheers for crispness?
    Cut the green tops off vegetables like carrots, beets and parsnips before you put them in the fridge. These tops absorb moisture and are what hastens carrots and other root veg to go limp and bendy.

    Some of the tender top leaves can be eaten of course, but do store them separately from their bottoms!

  • Wrap up
    My personal fave way to store celery and most brassicas in the fridge is to wash (cut celery into long sticks) and wrap in slightly damp tea towel, then put into plastic bag removing as much air as possible. If you've got a large celery for example, wash and prepare it and keep half in plastic bag in fridge and the rest do the tea towel wrap thing. Once I went away for 4 weeks and this celery was as good as freshly picked! More insights on veggie storage here.

  • Letterbox loving
    In Auckland I saw a nice idea. It's a twist on the old bag or box of produce put out at the gate. This house had a cool looking fancy 'box' permanently built on top of their letterbox. It was filled with a carton of grapefruit—obviously from the abundant tree by the house.

    The owner said that when she didn't have spare produce, such as feijoas from their hedge or the grapefruit, she put in a pot plant or two. A novel way to dress-up the entrance to your property. In large bright paint a PLEASE TAKE sign. Pity I didn't have my camera with me. A DIY project for the times methinks.


Peaceful gardening at last...

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17 Year Soup

This soup is so good, a nurse ate it every workday for 17 years.

In case you think he would get bored by something he has eaten thousands of times, far from it. Even though he always uses the same ingredients, "The soup never really tastes the same", he says. "It's always a little bit of a surprise: The onion came out strongly this time, or that's a really good butternut squash. If I hadn't made it as often as I had, I'd never have noticed that."


  • 450g lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 10 cups broth or water
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1.3cm dice
  • 280g baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1.3cm dice (about 3 cups)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lemons.


  1. In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, jalapeno, coriander, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  2. Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, re-cover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until it starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup, deglazing the skillet with a little bit of the broth from the soup, then add the deglazed contents back to the soup pot. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and add more if needed. Pick out and discard the bay leaves.
  4. Thinly slice one of the lemons and cut the other into wedges. Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl. Pass lemon wedges at the table.

Notes: BTW its real name is Greek Lentil & Spinach Soup with Lemon. AND don't skip the zing of lemon, which makes it sing.

Preparation time: Approximately 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Makes: About 8 meals, keeps in fridge for at least 3-4 days

Live, love and garden

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