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Diggers Rest Moving home; Eco gardening tips; Ricotta Capsicums
January 15, 2010

January 2010 Issue #52


What fun that you and I both love gardening. Thanks for joining me.

1) Moving home
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Ricotta Capsicums

It is a shame when you grow you own,
That you leave your garden when moving home.
Someone else will munch your celery,
Pick your beans oh so cheerily.
Pluck your herbs and snip your veggies,
And make your spuds into roast wedges.

Moving home

I've moved again! Not to a new country like I did two years ago and came back to New Zealand from Australia. This time it's just over the hill and across Wellington city to Aro Valley. It's nice and bushy and up high enough to catch the sun. Wow... is there work to do in this patch of grass and weeds! But in the meantime I'm slumming it, having to make do with the likes of supermarket lettuces. Send kind thoughts please...

Sowing guides

I get a lot of praise for the useful Sowing Guides, although a reader from Canada has written to say it's impossible for example, to sow seeds in Jan, Feb and March as the ground is frozen solid. Here's a guideline:

The sowing guides were actually done by friend Judy, who comes from Canada! It is near impossible to cover all areas specifically, so the guides are pretty general. There will be some very cold and some not so cold places in each section.

You will see that for the Northern Hemisphere cold climate guide, there are no frost tender plants for sowings done in Jan, Feb and March. The guides are for sowing seeds outdoors, but if the ground is frozen then sow seeds indoors and transplant 1-2 months later, otherwise wait until you can get a bit of crumbly tilth for sowing outside.

Q & A

The Question and Answers page, has not had much attention recently and I have a lot of submissions to check and put up. It's back to work now, so keep your questions coming and especially keep answering others' questions — it's great to share gardening knowledge.

Eco gardening tips

  • Old sponges:
    For potted plants, recycle old kitchen and bath sponges by cutting them into small pieces and mix with the potting mix. The sponges will absorb excess water but keep the soil moist for longer. It's a great alternative to peat moss or soil moisture aids.
  • Sweet cukes:
    Cucumbers with seeds, especially apple cukes, can get a slightly bitter flavour if left on the plant too long. Telegraph cucumbers are seedless and don't have this problem, but for the seeded varieties, pick them early, not too big and they'll be sweet as.

    Also, along with plenty of water and feeding, the more you pick, the more flowers and cukes appear.

  • Junk mail:
    Printer's ink is usually plant based these days, so even junk mail can be useful in the garden. A handy gadget is a shredder which you can buy at most stationary and chain store shops for the cost of a lunch. Shredded leaflets, envelopes, school notices, etc make great bedding for pets, nests for chickens, fodder for worm farms and compost bins and mulch.

Capsicums or bell peppers make a good-looking and tasting dish when stuffed, raw or cooked. Here's an easy one to impress:

Ricotta Capsicums

  • 4 red capsicums
  • 250g (or one tub) ricotta cheese
  • 2 heaped Tblns chopped basil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 large Tbln pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to season


  1. Heat oven to 180C and bake pine nuts for 5 minutes on oven tray. Leave to cool.
  2. Mash ricotta with fork and stir in all ingredients including pine nuts.
  3. Cut each capsicum in half, remove seeds, arrange on baking tray and fill halves with ricotta mixture.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 as main meal or 8 as part of meal.

Happy gardening and here's to a great year ahead.


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