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Diggers Rest – If we disappeared from the world, Eco gardening tips, Red Lentil Soup.
June 02, 2009

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

June 2009 Issue #45


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) If we disappeared from the world
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Red Lentil Soup

Driving along listening to the radio, an old Andrews Sisters song came on. Who remembers The Beer Barrel Polka? It's got the line, "Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun"

And here's the first verse, which I'd never heard before. Sing it to the polka tune, go on, dare you, out loud... in your garden!

"There's a garden, what a garden
Only happy faces bloom there
And there's never any room there
For a worry or a gloom there..."

Listen here.

If we disappeared

A new book "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman, tells what would happen in time if humans disappeared. If we don't practice sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, or if the universe goes on its course because that's the way it goes regardless of us human minions... and we all perish, then here are just a few snippets:

  • Within 20 years, around the world, the common garden vegetables we're used to eating would revert back to less-palatable wild varieties.
  • In 100 years, feral housecats would be keeping in check the smaller predators like raccoons and foxes.
  • In 35,000 years, the soil would finally be cleansed of the lead deposited from decades of productive smokestacks.
  • Questions & answers on gardening

    Dale posted a good question, and there's some interesting answers here at Cheap way to contain raised garden beds

    Also invaluable information for all gardeners is posted by Les at Green manures and nematodes.

    Eco gardening tips

    • Basil:
      In autumn/wintery parts of the world, basil is likely to be looking sorry for itself. Basil is a warmth-loving plant that won't survive cold.

      Although it is a perennial that will go for years in warm areas if well fed and watered, it's usually treated as an annual, living for one season and re-planted again every spring.

      Basil is such a tasty and versatile herb, so if you want basil year round, grow it on a sunny windowsill, plant it in a pot outdoors and bring it in at the first hint of cold... or move to a warm climate.

    • Hot pots and plots:
      Growing herbs and veggies in pots is popular. Because a pot is exposed on all side to hot or cold air, it's important to watch the soil for drying out. Mulching retains moisture and a more even temperature. Clay (terracotta) pots are best as they protect roots from excessive heat.

      Same with raised plots, bathtubs, tires (also spelt tyres). The more exposed the sides of a garden are, usually the more extreme the temperature range is. So watering and mulching are extra necessary.

    • Multiple births:
      Seeds such as beetroot and silverbeet or chard are easy to grow because they're large and each seed is actually a group of seeds surrounded by a cork-like coating. After germination, it's best to pinch out the weakest seedlings leaving one good one from each group to grow on.

    This recipe was so nice, people at my local Newtown markets came back for repeat $2 servings from Helen and her large pot of wonderful thick soup.

    Red Lentil Soup

    • 1 cup dried RED lentils (250gms)
    • 2 large onions, chopped small
    • 2 large potatoes, chopped into bite-sized bits
    • 1-2 large carrots, chopped
    • 1/2 cauliflower, chopped into florets (optional)
    • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
    • 2 tspns fresh grated ginger
    • 2 Tbls oil
    • 2 tspns ground cumin
    • 2 tspns ground coriander
    • 1 tspn turmeric powder
    • 1 tspn salt, or to taste
    • 1 can chopped tomatoes
    • 1 can coconut milk (optional)
    • 3 Tbls lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
    • ½ tspn pepper, or to taste
    • 3 cups water, or more to make soup go further, with 1-2 stock cubes (optional)


    1. Use red lentils as they don't need soaking. If you want to use brown lentils, soak overnight and cook 30 minutes longer.
    2. In large pot sauté onions in oil, spices, garlic and ginger, mixing and cooking for 2 minutes and taking care not to burn.
    3. Add lentils, chopped veggies, and tomatoes and water (and optional stock), then bring to boil.
    4. Lower heat immediately, and stir in coconut milk if using.
    5. Simmer on low heat with lid on for 20 minutes or until lentils and veggies are tender, stirring occasionally to check that bottom is not sticking and burning.
    6. If using cauliflower, add florets now and cook further 5 minutes covered.
    7. Add lemon juice and extra seasonings as needed.
    8. Remove pot from heat and serve immediately. If re-heating later, only heat what you will use. Delicious the next day.

    Note: A good substitution for all the spices is to use 1 Tbl curry powder or 2 Tbls curry paste instead. Can also add 1 small chopped chilli if you like things spicier.

    Preparation: 35-40 minutes

    Serves: 6-8 (Makes approximately 3 ltrs)

    Happy gardening


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