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Diggers Rest – Environmental understanding; Eco gardening tips; Colourful Rice Salad.
October 11, 2010

October 2010 Issue #61


What fun that we both love gardening. Thanks for joining me.

1) Environmental understanding
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Colourful Rice Salad

"Although you’ll find my garden a mess
Come in, sit down, converse.
It doesn’t always look like this
Sometimes it’s even worse!"

Environmental understanding

I've been reading about the founders of Wanganui's beautiful and unusual Botanical Gardens in NZ.

Stanley and Blanche Bason gifted their huge garden to the city when they got too old to maintain it in the 1960s. I like Stanley Bason's environmental understanding — he wrote in his diary:

"I will pledge myself as a human being to assume my share of man's stewardship of our natural resources.
I will use my share without greed or waste.
I will respect the rights of others.
I will support the sound management of the resources we use, the restoration of resources we have despoiled and the sage keeping of resources for posterity.
I will never forget that life, beauty and progress depend on how wisely man uses these gifts, the soil, the water, the air, the minerals, the plant life and wild life."

What's your idea of a no-dig garden?

Here's an interesting question from a reader — and some replies. You are all good organic gardeners, who don't mess up the layers of soil more than you have to... so how would YOU describe the way you garden. Click What's a no dig garden?

Eco gardening tips

  • Canary in the coalmine:
    As you may know canaries die of toxic gasses easily, so in a coalmine if the canary dies... scramble! Same with teflon coated cookware... high temperatures were found to kill pet birds in kitchens.

    Which brings us to silverbeet, sometimes called chard. You don't need a green thumb, no thumbs or 3 brown thumbs to grow it — silver beet will still grow.

    BUT if it looks yellow or sick, that's a metaphorical canary in the coalmine... you've got a problem with your soil. Thus if your silver beet is not lush, lush, lush, change your thumbs (no really, fix your soil).

  • Green manure crop:
    Sometimes it can take years to get poor soil into good condition, so if you have limited compost, think about growing a fallow or green manure crop.

    Best grown before winter, get a big bag of seeds from a garden centre or online shop. They can recommend the best for your area. Popular crops are wheat, rye, oats, mustard, lupins, peas and hairy-vetch.

    Come spring, chop of their heads and leave to dry as mulch, whilst the roots help fix nitrogen in the soil. Alternatively you can add a few no-dig layers such as paper and mulch over the top of your winter cover crop and let it rot nicely underneath before planting.

  • Using old to grow new:
    Wood is likeable, so it's nice to be able to re-use old bits of wooden furniture – and what better use than to grow seeds in drawers. If you see broken desks or similar thrown out for collecting, grab the drawers and use instead of plastic seed trays.

    Bigger drawers can be used for a micro salad or herb garden near the kitchen. Eco friendly and naturally attractive, wooden drawers can be retired finally to the compost when they crumble.

Colourful Rice Salad

This herby, healthy recipe can be made with any rice, but it's beautiful with brown and red or black rice combined.


  • ¾ cup brown rice such as basmati
  • ½ cup black or red rice, such as Thai red rice
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small head lettuce with small handful endive leaves. Or 1 small head radicchio (for a slightly peppery, bitter flavour) shredded finely
  • 1 finely chopped and de-seeded red chilli
  • ½ cup roughly chopped toasted pistachio nuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or chopped and crushed
  • 3 Tablesp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook each rice separately in double amount water for 35-40 minutes until bite tender. (Can be cooked together but colours will run)
  2. Rinse through with cold water and drain well.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in salad bowl.

Preparation: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 people

Happy gardening,


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