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Diggers Rest - Wanton improvement, Eco gardening tips, Parsnip Puree.
July 02, 2008

A free monthly resource from the wonderful world of gardening; giving you tips, recipes and reminders to make your garden grow!

July 2008 Issue #34


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) Wanton improvement
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Parsnip Puree

Committing reckless acts of wanton improvement

Do you surreptitiously plant your papaya and avocado stones, your pineapple tops, fruit seeds and spare plants etc, in any unloved bits of bare soil, like my son Toby in Sydney? He's got plants growing around the car parks where he lives in an apartment block and even a half dozen pepper plants and some native spinach alongside the drive into the basement garages.

At his previous address he filled the empty spaces with vast vines of pumpkins and melons, plus at least one papaya tree that's now hanging with fruit. Another son, Stacey, has choko plants coming through the wild weeds on a certain council river bank nearby.

They don't know it, but they're unofficial "Guerrilla Gardeners." Want to know what that is, or want to become an official one? It can be as exciting and dangerous as you wish.

Read about it here and check out your area: Guerrilla gardening

Chokos: Last newsletter brought some puzzled emails... what are chokos? C'mon now! But I suppose many of us think they live in the centre of the world and everyone else should know what we know, sorry.

Chokos are from the Cucurbitaceous family — like cucumbers. They grow worldwide in temperate to hot climates, with big commercial crops in Mexico and Costa Rica. You may know them by some of their many other names, such as: chayote, vegetable pear, mango squash, cho-cho and chow-chow.

Winter areas: Garlic and onion bulbs can be planted if you haven't done so sooner. Clean up any over wintering snails hiding low under anything flat. Pick any last tomatoes tinged with orange before frosts soften them and ripen them inside. Feed the birds and enjoy great winter meals with fresh dug carrots and other harvested root veggies and squashes.

Summer areas: In some areas the really hot times are around the corner, so make sure your mulch is adequate. Successive plantings of salad veggies will occupy your small talk and walk. You can't beat rocket and radishes to grow for speed, ease and "may I have some more please?"

Eco Gardening Tips

  • Not a punnet of mushrooms but a baleful: Here's a neat idea for straw bale gardening (read about it here). Buy an edible mushroom spore pack from your local garden centre or online. They don't cost much and provide several months' pickings. There seems to be a good selection of varieties, such as field, burgundy, shiitake, oyster mushrooms and more. Spread it on your straw bale and watch it mushroom into growth.
  • Wild charity: Here's a tip for those gardeners who love their casseroles and crockpots — like me. Whether you make porridge overnight, tomato sauce by the kilo, casseroles or whatever, often there's a grim rim crusty sticking like grim rim crusty's do! It's budgeproof... so out to the garden and give it to where you know the ants are — bull ants are extra good. Or make your dog's day and keep it occupied for hours. What about the chooks — their beaks make great pot scourers. After feeding the wild ones, hose or rinse dish then wash in usual way. Good as new.
  • Stop press: Freeze the press, here's a handy bit of news. Don't let a maverick frost catch you unawares and ruin your last few summer pickings or new plants. If it forecasts overnight frosts or it feels like it, f-o-r-c-e yourself outside with the local gossip rag and lay sheets, one layer thick, on vulnerable plants. You can buy frost cloth also. Use clothes pegs to hold your frost deterrents in place if necessary.

Here's a tasty, savoury sauce, with a touch of sweetness, to pour over baked, stir-fried or roasted vegetables. It's particularly nice with spuds, chokos, carrots, eggplants and kumaras, and you can sprinkle rosted sunflower seeds on top.

Parsnip Puree

- 500g parsnips (about 4 medium parsnips)
- 2 cups vegetable stock or water. (If using water, also add some flavourings such as: a small onion, 1 garlic clove, 2 stalks parsley or 1 stick celery, dash of white wine, squeeze of lemon or other flavourings you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 2-3 tablespoons lightly roasted sunflower seeds (optional)

1. Bring stock or water to boil.
2. Slice parsnips thickly and add to stock. If using water add other vegetables cut in big bits as you only want their flavour and will be fishing these out later.
3. Cover and simmer until parsnips are very soft, approximately 20 minutes.
4. Drain (keep stock) and remove as much as other vegetables as possible.
5. Blend cooked parsnips in machine or mash, with olive oil and cream.
6. It should be a smooth paste, but add some stock if necessary depending how liquid you want it.
7. Pour over veggies, sprinkle with roasted sunflower seeds if wished, or put puree in bowl with spoon for people to help themselves.

Stores well in fridge, so can be made ahead a day or two.

Makes enough to cover veggies for about 4 people.

Happy gardening.


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