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Diggers Rest, Issue #001 -- Tips to make your garden ZING!
February 10, 2005

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

February 10, 2005 Issue #01


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. Just reply to this newletter.

In this issue:

1) Building your first no dig garden bed
2) Gardening tips for your area
3) February's feature recipe - Risotto! Huh?

Building Your First No Dig Garden Bed

While you've almost certainly read the article on the website about how to build a garden (see build a garden instructions) there are some additional points that I think will help.

Only make your gardens twice as wide as your arm length. By that, I mean make sure you can reach into the garden to the halfway mark for harvesting and weeding.

You should not walk on your no dig garden. It will compact the layers of organic material and may cause problems later. It may also track undesirable things (weed seeds especially) into the bed.

If you want to plant out your garden the same day you build it, water the layers of materials as you lay them down. The straw layer in particular takes some time as straw does not readily absorb the water. Presoaking the bales in standing water can also help if it's an option for you.

I know if you are living in a city or a suburban area, you are probably scratching your head on where to get lucerne and straw bales. Don't fret! Most cities and towns have garden centres that can supply these items.

If they don't ask them to order them in or take a day trip to a rural area and gather your supplies from a livestock supply center. It's all part of the adventure and the planet will thank you.

In the Garden This Month

Northern Hemisphere:

It's only February so I'm guessing you're not out in your veggie patch just yet! Brrrrr! But you should be starting to think about what you want to do over the coming months.

Now is the perfect time to research and plan your garden. Always start with a list of things you or your family like to eat. Seems self evident...but you'd be surprised...

Then on a plain sheet of graph paper do a rough drawing of where you want to put your plants. For basic tips, refer to the information at plan a garden. Check out the companion planting guide at the same site.

In coming weeks, I will be posting a planning sheet for gardeners, but it's not there yet.

Think about staggering your crops so they don't all ripen at once and prepare a rough 'calendar' of activities in the coming weeks.

Spring will be here very soon and next month, the seedlings will need to get started. Start collecting usable containers now!

Southern Hemisphere:

Absolutely the height of summer now and hot, hot, hot in most places. Relax. This is a time to watch your existing garden in it's final stages of fruiting.

In the cool of the evening, go into your garden and watch for pests. This is absolutely the height of their season too. However, towards the end of the month, those beds will need rejuvenating before you get your fall vegetables in. So top up your compost and mulch.

This is also a planning month for you.

What will you grow in your cooler months? Check out the sowing guides for your area at sowing guides for the vegetables that like cooler weather.

Finally, if you are in a drought prone area, never mulch a dry garden. Water it well before you put the mulch on. Mulch will stop moisture getting in if you aren't getting much rain.

Feature Recipe: Risotto

What??? Yup. Risotto is a basic rice dish, but is included here for two reasons. You can mix just about anything with it and it tastes fabulous. Secondly, it's suitable for both hot and cold weather dining.

It is simple.

4 cups stock (chicken, beef, fish, vegetable, whatever)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 minced onion
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup grated fresh Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock in a covered pot. While that is heating up, in another large pot, melt the butter and fry the onion until translucent.

Stir the rice into the onion pot and stir until it is evenly coated in the butter. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine.

Stir until the rice has absorbed that liquid, then start adding the hot stock. Do it in about 1/2 cup amounts. Stir the rice continuously until all of the stock is in and absorbed.

The rice becomes creamy at this stage and should be almost ready. Taste to make sure it is cooked, but not overdone.

Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in the cheese and serve.

Variations: We do this dish a LOT because it is so quick and fabulous. At the 'onion' stage, we will add bacon or chicken and mushrooms. We will then top it up in the pot with either fresh cooked asparagus, or snow peas or left over roasted vegetables.

Try your own variations. It's rich and yummy!

Next month...How to grow the BEST tasting tomatoes.

See you then.

Judy Williams

© J.L. Williams 2005

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