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Diggers Rest - Doggone it, Eco gardening tips, Cyril's Choko Pickle.
June 02, 2008


What fun that you and I both love the topic of gardening. Thanks for joining me on this adventure. For any questions or feedback, just click on reply on the top toolbar of this email.

1) Doggone it
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Cyril's Choko Pickle

Doggone it

After last month's article on peas, I was reminded by a reader about dogs and peas. Seems this Rotweiller (that's the dog not the reader) loves to nibble the peas off before she (the reader) gets a chance to pick them. I've previously heard of a Beagle doing that too, along with carrots (that's the beagle eating carrots, not carrots eating peas)... oh dear, well it looks like dogs have good sense when they're able to choose their food.

I'm just back from staying two weeks in sunny mild Sydney. There's barely a check on any of the vegetables due to the warmish weather, and the herbs seem to be still in full growth. Speaking of which, here's a way to use surplus herbs. This idea is really back in fashion I see, and it's an enjoyable and useful way to show off your creative skills: Making herb vinegars.

Going into winter? If you have a mild winter and it's still autumnish where you are, consider sowing Radicchio or Italian Chicory. It prefers cool weather and turns bitter in the heat.

Good time to put in Rhubarb crowns now, or divide your existing plants once they slow in growth and you've had enough pies.

Spring and summer areas: Sowing and planting should be in full swing. Some areas are still a bit cool, so there's still time to plant long season veggies like tomatoes and vines. There's a great heirloom tomato called "Siberian" which you may be able to get hold of. It withstands 3-4 frosts and matures in a couple of months.

Eco Gardening Tips

  • Oops the water's gone on the floor: Isn't it annoying when you water something, say an indoor plant, or patch of garden or lawn, and the water just runs off without soaking in? It's caused by a slight waxy watertight barrier that often forms on organic matter on the soil surface when it dries out.

    To the rescue comes soap. Use a biodegradable laundry powder, mix roughly a small spoonful in a can of water, or sprinkle powder very sparsely over soil. The harmless and (beneficial in small doses) surfactants, carbonates, citrates, silicate and zeolites in it act as wetting agents and have moisture retention properties.

  • Plants in containers: Container grown herbs and veggies are fun, but you're giving yourself extra work if you use terracotta pots. They do look nice but they're so porous they dry out quickly, especially on a hot balcony. Glaze them with oil based house paint, or use ready glazed pots or wood planters. Watch out for metal pots as your poor plants' roots can do a slow cook or freeze in them.
  • Nitrogen rich fallow crop: If you decide not to grow any veggies over winter, one of the best ways to improve your soil is to grow a fallow crop like many farmers do. Nurseries usually sell large bags of lupin, clover, alfalfa or lucerne. Sow them thickly and in early spring fork the plants under or just cover with no dig layers, such as paper, compost and mulch, and your garden will be enriched with nitrogen.

An old friend, Cyril has made his pickle recipe for 19 years. Chokos run amok in some Sydney gardens, but you can buy them in most veg shops worldwide. I don't like pickles much, but I cooked up a small pot full and tried it out on a friend who dropped in. He put some on a sliver of bread, them put a lot on more bread, no comment, then took a huge scoop out of jar onto more bread.... so I said, "Do you like it?" He finally stopped eating and said, "I don't like it, I LOVE it!" He said he would find it hard to buy the sugary, tasteless shop bought stuff again. Even I ventured a try. It is lovely and spicy I must admit, very good. I'm going to make a full amount now (I only tried 1/4 recipe) and use some for presents.

Cyril's Choko Pickle

- Salt
- 4 chokos
- lb green beans
- 1 lb onions
- 1 pts malt vinegar
- 1 lbs sugar
- 1oz ground ginger
- 1oz curry powder
- 2 chillies or chilli powder
- cup wholemeal flour
- 1 dessertspoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1. Cut up chokos small and sprinkle with salt.
2. Leave overnight and drain off liquid.
3. Place vinegar and sugar in pan. Put ginger and chillies in a bag and boil in vinegar and sugar for 20 minutes.
4. Cut up beans and onions.
4. Take out bag and put in all vegetables and cook for at least 1 hour.
5. Mix flour, curry, mustard and turmeric into paste and cook with vegs for ten minutes.
6. Put into clean, hot jars and put lids on.

Makes about 6 medium jars.

(Cyril says this is a rough guide and he adds or uses less according to his desire always successful)

Happy gardening.


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