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Diggers Rest – Birdhouses; Eco gardening tips; Hasselback Herb Pumpkin
August 27, 2021

August 2021 Issue #192


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

1) Birdhouses
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Hasselback Herb Pumpkin


Called Birdhouse Forest, at White's Beach, Vermont US, this marshland was a mosquito breeding ground. The owner put up these whimsical birdhouses for tree swallows, which love the bloodsucking skeeters. There are now over 400 little birdhouses, a large colony of happy swallows, and the mosquitoes are kept well in check.

Eco gardening tips

  • Grow as they grow
    There are lots of gardening myths, tall tales and 'well it works for me so it must be true'. There are also lots of blogs, sites, and social media posts on why these myths and so on, are NOT true.

    I see some rubbish printed, and wonder at the ignorance and gullibility of so called gardeners… BUT here's the thing… we've all had to start somewhere. So whether you're a little child planting their first five peas in a circle, or an old biddy enjoying picking parsley from a windowsill plant pot… keep going, enjoy growing, learn what works or not, and remember this maxim:
    "Grow as they grow." Which means, as your plants grow, you grow in knowledge too!

  • Liar, liar, pants on fire

    Well not pants but tomato bottoms, and not on fire but rather saggy. Yes blossom end rot (BER) is a sad thing to behold on one's tomatoes. Definitely a lie, the old myth that eggshells would fix calcium deficiency, as the cause of BER is not that simple. Egg shells even finely ground take almost forever to dissolve in soil and supply calcium.

    Firstly most soils are not deficient in calcium, so the problem is getting the plants to take up the calcium in soil. This is usually affected by inconsistent watering, and/or cold soils which means plants struggle to uptake soil minerals like calcium, boron and phosphorus. It's not always as simple as that and it may be your soil does have a mineral deficiency, in which case, get a soil test.

  • Sneaky snails
    A homing snails experiment was done by Ruth Brooks in UK. How sweet that garden snails (helix aspersa) are homebodies and don't like to be hurled far away from their slippers and families…so to speak.

    A research team was set up and the national Great Garden Snail Swap began. Without going into all the conditions, barriers, weather and so on, the results were definitely conclusive. They showed snails found their way back to their home patch from up to 33 ft (10 m) away. Over 33 ft, possibly but more research is needed. So in my case with a 65 ft (20 m) wide section, I can safely toss snails from my veggie garden on one side onto my compost on the other side.

    Worth reading: Slug and snail control.

wooden birdhouseYour own bird house!

A cute little bird house to hang in your garden.

Enjoy the wildlife and provide an ideal little spot for birds to make their own!

Hang one or more up in a nearby tree or railing. Easy as and watch the action happen. Check them out here.

Hasselback Herb Pumpkin

Hasselback anything always looks and tastes good, whether it be spuds or sweet potatoes. Pumpkin doesn't disappoint either, although it takes a bit longer to prepare. Give yourself about 15 mins to carefully cut and prepare this rave quality dish. Thanks to


  • half a large butternut pumpkin (halved lengthways)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season.
Herbed butter
  • 80g butter, at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • 1 small Tbsp maple syrup, or honey if you prefer
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped mixed herbs (such as dill, parsley, coriander and chives).


  1. Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F).
  2. Put all herb butter ingredients in a small bowl and mash with a fork until mixed. If preparing in advance, cover and place in the fridge. Otherwise set aside until ready to baste the pumpkin.
  3. Using a sharp knife, trim the skin from the butternut, but keep the shape as much as possible. Scoop out seeds.
  4. Place the pumpkin flat-side-down on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. With your sharp knife, make incisions into the pumpkin widthways, about 1/4 " ( 0.5 cm) apart. Work carefully, cutting ¾ of the way through the pumpkin. Drizzle the olive oil over and give it a light seasoning of salt. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Add herb butter, softened if necessary, using a pastry brush to baste the pumpkin and push the butter into the crevices that have opened up between the slices.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C (356° F) and roast for another 20-30 minutes until pumpkin has cooked through but is holding its shape, and the top has taken on a lovely golden caramel colour. Season with salt and pepper and additional parmesan. Best eaten piping hot.

Preparation time: Approximately 30 minutes
Cooking time: Approximately 1 hour
Serves: 4-6

Live, love and garden

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