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Diggers Rest, Issue #005 -- Beyond organics, June gardening tips.
June 09, 2005

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

June 9, 2005 Issue #05


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) Beyond Organics
3) In the garden this month
4) Recipe: Cheesy Zucchini Casserole

What's NEW On The Site?

I've created a book page for the best of breed that I'm aware of. Not all of them will be easy to find but they are worth the search.

If you have a suggestion for something that should be included, just let me know by replying to this newsletter.

Beyond Organics

It's June. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, your garden must be underway. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, it's just getting cold and perhaps your garden and you are resting.

Time to reflect, for just a moment, what we're doing growing organic vegetables and where it fits into the scheme of things.

The organic gardening movement has been going since the 1920's and really, it's about remembering how we used to farm food before we discovered chemical fertilisers, pesticides and preservatives.

A sense of powerlessness can paralyse if a problem seems too large. How do we fix land degradation with just a vegetable patch? You would be surprised.

What you do on your patch of the earth does make a difference. And growing organic is the first, giant leap.

In England, nature reserves occupy 85,000 acres, while gardens take up more than 1 million acres. So if all of them are using organic techniques, you have a healthy chunk of country.

But the concept I want to share with you is the idea of using your patch of land to not only garden organically, but ecologically.

'When we begin to think of the combined size of gardens, rather than individual size, new possibilities begin to emerge in terms of their ecological role.'

This is a quote from my new favourite book "Beyond Organics: Gardening for the Future" by Helen Cushing.

' Going beyond organics means shifting our concept of gardening from one that is based around human needs, desires, aspirations and perceptions, to one than encompasses nature's point of view.

It means understanding the big environmental picture that our small gardens are a part of, and gardening in a way that maximises the garden's positive contribution to the well being of that wider environment.

It means seeing our garden as a piece of the global landscape that interacts constantly with the ecology both within and beyond our fence lines.'

Cushing goes on to describe ways to do this by creating natural habitat for the birds, insects and small animals that are native to your area. Building up the soil to create a vibrant ecosystem that will naturally thrive and survive while natural habitats are being wiped out.

She describes birds, frogs and organic gardeners as a dream team. The book is Australian-centric in terms of the plants and conditions she goes into detail on, but the concepts really smacked me between the eyes.

It's worth considering gardening ecologically...especially the next time you are replacing garden plants.

For details on someone who is gardening ecologically read Jeannies Garden

In the Garden This Month

Northern Hemisphere:

You should have something happening by now in your garden. If you have sown vegetable seedlings in the past few weeks, they may need to be thinned.

If they don't get thinned (I know it breaks your heart!) they will crowd each other out and crop poorly. You don't have to do ALL the thinning now, but keep an eye on them and leave just the heartiest seedlings to mature.

Once your potato plants are about 6 inches high, build up the mulch around them. As mentioned last month, if the tubers are exposed to daylight, they will turn green and become toxic. Watch them closely and keep adding the mulch!

Southern Hemisphere:

If you're growing Brussel Sprouts, strip away the bottom leaves as young brussel sprouts appear. This will improve the crop.

Rhubarb can be planted now in most southern gardens as long as they are 'crowns'. Seedlings won't germinate in this temperature. Plant in full or partial sun and feed well.

Patrol your garden regularly for colonies of slugs and snails. They'll become a real pest if not controlled between seasons. Take your flashlight after dark and get out there!

Feature Recipe: Cheesy Zucchini Casserole

Zucchini and tomato together are an unbeatable combination. Throw in some cheese and garlic and you've got a winner!

1 1/2 lbs of zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed
14 oz can of peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup wholewheat flour
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of natural yoghurt
1 1/2 cups cheese grated
1 cup wholewheat breadcrumbs

Blanch the zucchini in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain. Melt half the butter in a pan and cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add tomatoes and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

In another pot, blend the remaining butter, flour and milk and heat. Whisk constantly until the sauce thickens. Cook for an additional 2 minutes then add the yoghurt and 1 cup of the cheese. Blend well.

Using a greased, casserole dish, layer one third of the zucchini, cover with half of the tomato mixture and half of the sauce.

Continue to layer until you have a top layer of the last of the zucchini. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle over the top of the zucchini. Bake in a moderate oven (350F, 180C) for 40 minutes.

This dish can double as a winter warmer or a barbeque addition. Very nice indeed...

Happy Gardening!

Judy Williams

Copyright J.L. Williams 2005

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