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Diggers Rest - Five gardening senses, Eco gardening tips, Gina's Chinese Sprouts
January 05, 2009

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

January Issue #40


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) Five gardening senses
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Gina's Chinese Sprouts

"One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste."

Five gardening senses

A very happy new year to all. In 2009, may your gardens flourish and all your senses be renewed.

It's true, isn't it... gardening brings pleasure to all five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. There are not many other things that can make that claim.

It's a wonder we gardeners are not gibbering maniacs, over-run with emotion and dizzy with agony and ecstasy.

Back to practicalities now. Last month I suggested boiling water for stubborn weeds. Just want to add a warning here that you only need to trickle it carefully on the middle of the weed — usually ones that you can't pull out such as with long roots in a path, like dandelions.

You don't want to unnecessarily kill insects, or in my case, boil a bee.

For example at this time of year where I live, there are lots of NZ native bees zipping and hovering over the ground and then they dive down with their load of pollen where they've laid their eggs into their little round holes they've dug out — very often in the fine soil between cracks in pathways.

Northern hemisphere: As you dig up your winter root crops, save only the best for storage and eat first the carrots, swedes, spuds etc that are blemished or small.

It's a good time to divide and re-plant or give away clumps of chives, perpetual spring onions, mint, rhubarb, and other perennials.

Southern hemisphere: All those 'fruiting' crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, capsicums and eggplants need regular watering, sometimes every day or so. Don't let them dry out or your fruits will fall off, grow distorted or in the case of tomatoes get blossom end rot or split skins.

Keep sowing and planting salad crops, beans and peas, and even a second crop of potatoes can go in for late summer harvest.

Eco gardening tips

  • Calling all bees:
    Even if you're totally into self-sufficiency and want only edibles in your garden, don't forget the bees. For many vegetables like zucchinis, cucumbers, squash and the likes, bees buzz into male flowers, then say hi to female flowers... and pollinate them.

    Attract more bees by growing some colourful flowers nearby, or at least let your herbs produce a few flowerheads. Chives, nasturtiums, lemongrass and more are all flowering now in summer areas, or can be planted out in winter zones. I usually let one plant each of bok choy, spinach, lettuce, etc flower and set seed... good for the bees and good for seed saving.

  • Herbs:
    Most herbs have sweet, attractive flowers... which the bees also love of course, but if you want to have strong and bushy herbs and get lots of pickings from them, it's best to nip most flowers out. It's OK to leave a few flowering heads, but otherwise prune the tips.

    Constant picking and eating encourages more growth. Later in the season you can let some of the annuals and bi-annuals such as basil and parsley go to flower and set seed for next season's sowing.

  • Strawberries and birds:
    I think I've cracked it. I've thwarted those dang birds that swathe through my strawberries. I've only got a small patch but one moment there's lots of luscious berries and the next time I look out the door, there's none and away flies a happy bird!

    I found some tinselly Christmas decorations in the discount shop, along with some cheap flags and see below how gaily my garden repels the birds from my strawberries. With only the tiniest puff of wind the flags and tinsel move and glitter constantly.

The recipe below is a popular dish in China, and a favourite of Gina's, my daughter-in-law. She usually cooks it with garlic sprouts, but I can't grow enough of these or find them in the shops here, so I use chives. Still tasty.

Gina's Chinese Sprouts

   - 2 bunches garlic shoots or chives (approx 100g)
   - 4 eggs
   - Oil for gentle frying (extra virgin olive oil gives a nice taste)
   - Salt


  1. Whisk eggs together and add to spoonful of warmed oil in wok or frypan. Stir eggs a bit and when just cooked, remove from pan.
  2. Heat another spoonful of oil in same pan, add garlic shoots or chives chopped into 4cm lengths. Stir-fry on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until softened a bit.
  3. Add cooked eggs back into pan, mix and heat through.
  4. Add salt to taste and serve.

    Good with brown rice.

    Preparation: 10 minutes

    Serves: 3-4

    Happy gardening


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