Thursday, January 13, 2011

Roses Like Coffee, Too!

Record snowfall landed in the village of Cache Creek, yet as I stare out our front window all I see is that pathetic old rosebush. It's looking especially sad at this time of year. Something in my perverse nature refuses to acknowledge the snow rolls ploughed along the roadside beyond it. Stubbornly, I focus on that rosebush, inherited upon our recent move, and wonder how to restore its health.

I did some research. Apparently, roses like a good dose of coffee almost as much as I do. It's good to know roses and I have something else, other than chocolate, we both go well with. To my surprise, there are many acid-loving plants in the garden (like rhubarb) which benefit from varying quantities of coffee grounds mixed with their top soil. Not only do the grounds feed the plant a steady, low-dose acid, they also deter slugs. Coffee grounds in the garden have become such a popular trend, Starbucks (see: Composting) is now doling out bags of the stuff.

I'm too…thrifty to spend so much on my caffeine addiction…or its compost. There are plenty of coffee grounds at home. Until now, I've avoided putting most of it in the regular compost – I read that too many coffee grounds creates acidic imbalance in the compost pile. For use in the garden, coffee grounds require some easy, though separate preparation. They must be completely dried before storing in an air-tight container:

  • Line a sheet-pan with parchment.
  • Spread the wet coffee grounds (from a full pot of coffee) on the parchment paper.

  • Set the sheet-pan in a warm, dry place. Stir occasionally.
  • It will take several days to a week, depending on humidity levels, to thoroughly dry the grounds.

Given the total area I wish to supplement with coffee grounds, it will require months of steady preparation to store enough dried coffee grounds. This is my first batch of twenty or more and I estimate it will take as many weeks to gather enough coffee grounds for all the acid-loving areas in our new, yet dilapidated, garden.

Along with gathering toilet paper rolls and newspapers , this is one more easy preparation for gardening I enjoy. Any project, however humble, that temporarily takes my mind off the snow rolls and icy sidewalks, and onto thinking about warmer, sunnier days to come, well, that's my kind of hobby!