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Diggers Rest, Issue #004 -- Brilliant beetroot, May gardening tips.
May 12, 2005

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

May 12, 2005 Issue #04


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) What's NEW on the site?
2) Brilliant Beetroot
3) In the garden this month
4) Recipe: Chunky vegetable soup

What's NEW On The Site?

I've spent the month making up for my lazy ways...There's LOTS that new this month.

I started by adding more pest control tips so your garden can remain a chemical free zone. The most recent tips deal with moulds and fungi on your plants.

For those who want to use no dig gardening methods for other sorts of gardening, I've added a section about Herbs, flowers and fruit

It's enough to get you started at any rate if that is of interest.

And there are even some pictures! Very productive month, I think, so check it out.

Brilliant Beetroot!

Are you looking for a truly versatile vegetable to grow and serve? Try beetroot!

It has the most amazing colour and texture. Varieties range in colour from gold to deep red/purple and are delicious raw, boiled, baked, pickled and juiced. Even the leaves are edible!

The root is packed with Vitamin C and the leaves are a great source of Vitamin A and potassium.

Beetroot is native to the Mediterranean so needs a fairly warm climate to do well. Unlike most of the plants we've discussed in the past, the seeds should be planted directly into the garden (or container) without going through the transplant stage.

Soak the seeds in water overnight to help germination, before planting. You should see your plants emerge in 10-14 days.

Two or three plants will emerge from each of the seed clumps, but then you have to make a decision before thinning. Do you want to eat the leaves or the root?

If you pick the leaves often, the root will develop poorly. Some sort of trade off has to be made. Even so, small beets are better than no beets at all.

Vegetables do best when they grow quickly and beets are no exception. Feed them every couple of weeks with a good water soluble plant food. They should be ready to harvest in 8-12 weeks.

Preparing Beetroot

  • When boiling beetroot (in salted water), always leave the skin on. Otherwise the colour will run. Allow to cool, peel, then cut to size.
  • Wrap in foil and bake, just like a potato. Then serve it with sour cream and chives.
  • Juice it raw with carrots and celery
  • Whip up some Russian Borscht. Again, the sour cream and beetroot combo is excellent.
  • Cut it up into a salad. Some herbs that really get along with it include dill, caraway, rocket and chicory.
  • Pickle it and use it to add zing to your salad sandwiches. I LOVE this.

  • One small may want to use disposable gloves when handling before a dinner can stain your fingers for a day or two...

  • In the Garden This Month

    Northern Hemisphere:

    Now is the time to plant your herbs for the kitchen. If your vegetable garden is a distance from the kitchen,prepare a small patch separately for your herbs near the kitchen. This is the best way to ensure you'll have quick and easy access to them. Check out the new page on Growing Herbs. Herbs will do well in containers too!

    Get those potatoes in the ground. As the plant starts to grow, keep building up the mulch materials around it. You don't want the growing potatoes to be exposed to the light as they will turn green and become toxic.

    Keep your garden free of weeds. There should be few in the no dig garden and they should be easy to pull as they come up. Weeds will compete with your vegetables for nutrients, so get rid of them.

    Southern Hemisphere:

    If your vegetable plants are now finished cut them up and fold them back into the garden or toss them on the compost.

    Discard any plants with disease as they will just spread it around the garden.

    If you've grown pumpkins, you'll know they're ready for harvest when the vine withers.

    If you feel some of your vegetables could be in danger with an early frost and they're not yet ready, protect them with a cloche.

    A cloche is a semi transparent, portable structure that will protect the plants from frost by keeping the air around them a little warmer.

    These can be bought or made using flexible tubing to create arches over the plants and covering with an agricultural fleece. The fleece comes off in the morning once the sun is up.

    Feature Recipe: Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup

    A light summer meal or a hearty winter dish? It's both!

    1 tablespoon of oil
    1 cup of leeks, sliced
    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    3/4 cup of carrot, peeled and sliced
    3-4 stalks of celery cleaned and sliced
    800g tin of peeled tomatoes (or similar amount blanched, chopped and peeled)
    4 1/4 cup of chicken, beef or vegetable stock
    200g of sweetcorn kernels (canned or fresh)
    300g of green beans chopped in 1" pieces
    300g of garden peas (canned or fresh)
    Sprig of basil, sprig of thyme, chopped
    1 bay leaf
    salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the oil in the bottom of a large pot and cook the leeks and onion until golden. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes, basil, thyme, bay leaf and stock. If you are using all fresh vegetables, put them all in at this stage. If using canned, only add the canned veggies at the end, to heat through, just before serving.

    Bring water to the boil and cook all the fresh ingredients together, seasoning to taste.

    Bring the heat back and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender.

    Serve with bread rolls or toast. Now that is comfort food.

    Happy Gardening!

    Judy Williams

    Copyright J.L. Williams 2005

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