Monday, October 21, 2013

Ever Seen a Gift Horse?

You know the old saying "never look a gift horse in the mouth".  Especially if that gift comes directly from mother nature herself.  It never ceases to amaze me what mother nature will thrive back into her own works.  If you read my post A Very Tiny Ficus I got two very welcome surprises from one big gamble. And even one more good reson to always use compost.

When I pot any new plant I mix in a generous helping of nutrition right from my compost.  I did the same when I planted the tiny ficus twig.  Out in the sun the tree began to flourish and take root nicely, but that wasn't all that was growing in my pot.  I began to notice a plant sprouting beside my new tree.  I immediately recognized the leaves of a vining plant, possibly a squash.  Not one to take anything for granted I immediately took my chances and move the plant from it's pot to the garden

At first I was very sceptical.  I knew I had something, but I wasn't sure it would survive the shock of a move.  I placed it underneath a tomato cage hoping to protect it.  I watched it struggle with the environment, but was determined not to give up.  I was more than curious to discover exactly what the surprise gift I had been given was.  After a few weeks it seemed to adept to the new surroundings quite well.  Even thought it was almost overshadowed by the extremely zealous sweet potatoes.  Nothing will hold those ambitious plants back. I had to lay the tomato cage on its side. The vines quickly outgrew the support. Before long little blossoms began to appear. I knew they were too small to be a squash of any sort.

My husband and I kept a daily vigil on the blossoms hoping something would peek beneath the pretty little yellow buds.  More and more appeared every day, but the harvest seemed slow at coming.  I was beginning to wonder if there would be any at all.  Low and behold along come the anticipated October rains.  There they were, no bigger than a forefinger!  Tiny little green shoots, narrow and full of fuzz.  Oh joy, oh joy!  How I do enjoy a cucumber!  The compost I had thrown in with my ficus tree was completed by a stray cucumber seed, that is now (strongly) multiplying in my garden.  I'm not sure how many will survive before the weather becomes to cold to sustain the produce.  It doesn't matter anyway.  Whatever the prize I will cherish it,  cause I never look a gift horse in the mouth!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Coffee Grounds & Your Garden

Even if you don't drink it chances are pretty good you know someone who does.  Nearly every employee break room has a coffee center stocked with flavored creamers.  The beneficial uses of used coffee grounds are numerous, but do they really boost your crops?

Turns out they do.  These little jewels add three very important nutrients to soil- nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  Coffee grounds are also considered slight acidic, but in a favorable range.  There are a several different ways to get the advantages of coffee grounds in you plants.

I like to drop mine directly into the compost bin.   The earth worms will feed off of the grounds and break up the component.  Grounds are also beneficial in maintaining the optimum temperature throughout the bin.  Why is it important to maintain your compost temperature?  To avoid possible seedlings, and deter unwanted pests.  Adding coffee grounds to the compost bin will also promote a richer, darker more beneficial feed for you garden as well as your house plants.

When I start new seedlings indoors for my spring gardening I always add fresh coffee grounds to the soil.  It gives my seeds the right start.  They come out strong and healthy.  I simply poor a couple of cups on top of the soil and mix in in well before planting the seeds.  To give the growth process and bigger boost use a small amount of leftover coffee to give the seeds a good drink.  Add fresh coffee grounds to any transplanted crops to give the roots a bit of stabilizing nutrition.  CAUTION; You never want to over do the coffee grounds.  Too much of anything isn't always a good thing. 

Coffee Grounds are also beneficial as a simple pest control.  Particularly slugs and snails when added to the garden.  Just be sure to ALWAYS use fresh, never spoiled, grounds.  Avoid using any flavored coffee grounds or fresh coffee.  The arouma will attract the wrong pests in abundance.

When the spring and fall gardening season have ran the full cycle and it's time to clean out the garden add plenty of grounds to give the soil the right jump on the next seasons crops.  It's a good idea to mix the ground well, but it doesn't hurt to top coat the soil with the grounds and let the winter do the work.

So what do you do if you are not a java fan?  Where do you go to get fresh coffee grounds for your plants?  First, and maybe one of the easiest is the world leader in coffee ground compilation.  Yes, I'm talking the one and only Starbucks.  Walk into you nearest Starbucks and for the asking you can get a free 5lb back of fresh grounds.  Hat's off to the mega giant for being so environmentally conscious.  What a great way to keep all of those grounds out of the landfill.

Recruit friends to help out your garden.  Offer to take the discarded grounds off of their hands.  Take advantage of that break room at work.  Set up a container and ask the other employees to save the grounds for you to take home.  Remind them of the benefits on the environment also.

If you do enjoy a fresh cup of coffee in the morning while you are revving up with a dash of caffeine don' forget to take advantage of those used grounds.