For the Best Gardeners in the Cardiff Area

   Jan 28

Your Questions About Gardening

Paul asks…

Who had a beloved pet die, and did you do anything to commemorate the pet?

My beloved pet is aging and I am considering planting a small garden.

Was there anything you did to help you with the grief?

GardenersCardiff answers:

I got my first cat when I was in kindergarten, and she died when I was a senior in high school. I wasn’t home when it happened, I was away at a volleyball game. Sometimes I think that’s a good thing because I would have been a mess watching my dad bury her, but sometimes I think I should have been there because she was my cat for over 10 years.

I know this doesn’t work for everybody, but a few weeks later we got a new kitten. The house was too empty without Samantha, so having a new kitty made it better. I still keep pictures of her up in my room today, and she’s been gone for about five years now.

So personally, I think one of the best ways to cope is to adopt a new pet. Not as a replacement, but just so you have a companion. It made it easier for me.

George asks…

Okay, my family is game, we all want to eat healthy. Can you help me with a weeks worth of dinner meals?

Not just salads! Come on you veggies out there, give me some recipes, not just links. I’m beginning to wonder what you’re all eating. I want good healthy stuff, not just pre-made freezer foods. For exampe, Linda McCartney makes a Thai pasta with peanuts and mock chicken, where can I get that kind of chicken? Anyone have a recipe for a meal like that?

GardenersCardiff answers:

Get some squash, such as delecada or acorn. Those are my fave’s. Pumpkin? No.

Chop them up (put the seeds aside for later) into chunks (2cm or so).
Keep the skin on (unless not organic)
Put them into a lasagne pan or other baking pan/dish with sides.
Throw the chunks in. Mix with extra virgin olive oil and a few squished and chopped garlic cloves
Bake it at say 350F until they are soft enough to eat.
Works well in toaster oven because closer heating elements.
Super easy, super yummy! And you can do it before starting on the rest of your meal.
Takes about 20 min or so depending on oven etc.
Put seeds in oven and toast them till brown (just put on baking sheet or whatever)
Seeds are then ready to eat. Perhaps sprinkle on top of squash.
For the December holidays, I like:

Use a lasagne pan
Slice potatoes into chips
Layer them in pan – with chopped cashews and little rosemary sprinkled over each layer.
Once filled the pan – drizzle water (or soy milk) on top careful not to displace anything, basically enough liquid to cover bottom of pan.
Cover pan – with tin-foil or whatever works
Bake in oven at 350F or more until potatoes are cooked. Maybe 40min. To 1hr.
All liquid should be gone (or almost) at the end.
Simple, but really good.
I also like stuffing too. I just bake it in an oven dish or bread pan etc. Instead in the ass of a bird.
We’re always eating popcorn. We drizzle flax oil on it and then sprinkle nutritional yeast and or kelp powder on it. Yummy! Sometimes I will mix the above with water in a dish and make a sauce and a few drops of (bragg or tamari) soy sauce then splash and mix into popcorn
We stir-fry just about everything. It’s so easy to use a wok. We make quick soups and everything with it. We use olive oil and water, but you can just use water, throw in your veggies into hot pan, put on lid, add tiny bit of water down side, woosh, steamed in minutes. The wok is our major cooking utensil and since it’s designed for quick and easy vegetable dishes, perfect for vegans too. I only use flat pans for pancakes and flat breads. Doesn’t make sense to me. With the wok, a flick of the wrist and I’m mixing the contents without a spatula and no splashing over the sides as happens with low edged flat pans. I put a heaping pile of vegetables from the garden in the wok, and soon it shrinks and is ready. Would never work with a flat pan, I’ve tried. Well, you didn’t ask about pans, but I think that since I got a wok, meals are very quick and always delicious and different, I just choose different vegetables each time and that makes a different meal each meal. Squash and kale one meal, peas turnips and bok-choy the next, carrot swiss chard and tofu. You don’t have to change the recipe/procedure for a new meal, just the ingredients. For soups and stews we use a Japanese thermos pot. Boil, then stick in thermos. Super easy.

Walnut Roast (loaf/stuffing)
1.5C water
1/3 C onion chopped
3.5 C bread crumbs (I just use toast chunks)
1 C w.w. Flour
2.1/3 stp. Salt
1.5 C soy milk (water works)
2.1/3 C minced nuts (walnuts best, or cashews mixed)
Mix all till firm. Put in oiled baking dish at 325-350 till firm.

Lentil roast (loaf)

2C cooked lentils (red cook fastest)
1C chopped walnuts
salt if you want
3T olive oil
1C bread crumbs
1 med. Onion chopped
1/2 T dried basil
Water as needed
saute onion till soft. Remove from heat. Add lentils and mash. Then add remaining ing. Mix well. Put in casserole dish bake at 350 for aobut 40 min. Can use 1/2 C sunflower seeds instead of walnuts if you want.

Donna asks…

What is a good and cheap way to set up a cichlid tank?

I just recieved a fish tank for Christmas. I would like to know cheap and easy ways to create caves for cichlids. Should i buy real rock and stack them. Also if i were to use real rock to make caves for the cichlids where is the cheapest or best place to them.
The tank size is 55 gallons
The tank size is 55 gallons

GardenersCardiff answers:

You didn’t mention the size of the tank but only concerns how many fish you can have. Obviously bigger tanks cost more to decorate.

Starting from the bottom up, you need a substrate, which will be either gravel ( use the natural, colored gravel tends to make the fish harder to see), or for African cichlids, get crushed coral. For regular cichlids you can used natural stream pebbles also, as long as you boil them first, and have a good place to collect them.

I always make my own caves and rock piles and let the fish rearrange them. All digging cichlids like most Central American ones and African Frontosa don’t care much how you want the rocks- if they are strong enough to move them they will.

Rather than buy rocks at a pet store, go to a nursery and garden store and get slate and shale pieces. They are fairly flat and you can break them to the size and shape you want with a hammer. I live in Manhattan, but I still find my own foundation rocks in Central Park. Pieces of granite and feldspar once washed make good posts to lay the slate on top of to make caves. Malaysian and African Driftwood sold in stores is expensive and is a favorite for cichlids that like soft acid water (mostly South American and Flowerhorn Cichlids). Don’t use any for African cichlids. They need alkaline water which you can maintain with plain baking soda instead of expensive buffers . If you live near a beach, you can use beach driftwood as long as it is aged enough to sink rather than float. It should be boiled first.

Many decent sized cichlids will not tolerate plants, either real or arartificials it blocks their line of sight and messes up their territoriality. So, the dig them up. For this reason, I find the best two plants are Java fern, which you can attach to rocks, and Anubias which rely on rhizomes rather than roots, and will still grow if the fish move them. They will often rip up wide plants like Sword plants, as these really tick them off because they can’t see around them.

As for water conditioning, rather than cycle your tank with a cheap goldfish, you can get a faster effect if you use some used gravel from an established tank, and a small amount of dirty filter wool from an established tank to place in your filter. These will introduuce the good nitrfying bacteria you need, so your tank will probably cycle in two weeks rather than 4 or 5.

Your filter should be big enough to circulate all your tank water 3- 5 times an hour. Penguin filters are the cheapest, but keep the receipt because some of them stop and start or turn noisy. Aquaclears are the best moderate priced filters.

I usually put 3 home made caves in the tank, and other rocks against the back as hide rocks. As I said above, medium sized cichlids will rearrange them, and some will put gravel on top of them. There is really nothing you should do if this happens, as they are happiest when their territory looks the way they want it to.Some will move airstones and even take submersible heaters off the glass and move them. I have a large pair of Flowerhorns in a 50 gallon tank that took the heater suction cups off so they could sleep under the heater, and put every single piece of wood and every rock in a nest it took them three weeks to make. Midas Cichlids, Rose Queens, Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Convicts, and African Frontosas do similar things. This is one of the main reasons I don’t recommend pre-made decorations except for small cichlids like Rams and Kribensis. They are very smart and very territorial and like to decorate their own homes. Angelfish and Discus won’t do these things, as Amazon cichlids are used to being in super-sized rivers of water where they don’t have that much environmental control.

You need a bsic water chemistry kit, and you can use the cheap Dip Stick ones the sell at Walmart. They aren’t exact, but they are close enough to let you know if you are having water quality problems. Most good pet shops will test your water for you if you need to.

Good Luck.

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