Saturday was a good day. Paul took the morning shift with the girls so I got to sleep in till 9am. Bliss. When I did get up, it was to a gloriously sunny and still day. (Wind-free days are rare in Wellington in spring.)
I played with the girls for a while and then, when they were taking their mid-day nap, managed to run some errands. I went to the chemist, the post office, the farmers' market, and my local cafe - where I picked up a bucket-full of spent coffee grounds for my garden.
I recently learned that coffee grounds are a wonderful fertiliser for the garden because they're high in nitrogen and contain small amounts of magnesium, calcium, potassium and other trace minerals.
How to use coffee grounds in the garden
- Dig into garden beds to add necessary nitrogen. (This is especially important in hugelkultur gardens where carbon-rich branches make up the bottom layer, and need plenty of nitrogen to break down.)
- Build a no-dig raised garden by alternating layers of green/nitrogen-rich materials (like coffee grounds, seaweed and lawn clippings) with layers of brown/carbon-rich materials (like dead leaves and untreated saw dust).
- Add to your compost bin as a green/nitrogen layer (alternated with a brown/carbon layer).
- Feed to worms in a worm farm.
- Sprinkle around the base of plants to help deter slugs and snails. It works because coffee is both abrasive and acidic. (You can also mix the coffee grounds with crushed egg shells to make a more effective slug/snail repellent.)
- Steep in water for a few hours at a ratio of 2 cups coffee grounds to 5 gallons/19 litres water, and then pour onto plants as a liquid fertiliser.
This is what I love about organic gardening. Sure I could go to the garden centre and buy a bag of synthetic fertiliser. And sure it would have the big three ingredients that would make my plants appear to grow well - nitrogen, phosporous and potassium. But:
- It would cost me money.
- It wouldn't enrich the soil.
- It wouldn't provide the other trace elements that plants need to be truly healthy and to pass on that health to humans.
- It wouldn't be as fun.
I also try to put waste products and natural products to use where I can. This saves me money, and is a better use of our earth's resources than sending them to the dump. (Although I still do that from time to time too. Just keeping it real.)
Last week I showed you a photo of our paddling pool full of seaweed I collected from the beach.
This week I can show you where that seaweed ended up, along with half of the coffee grounds, some garden lime I was given, and half a bag of blood and bone.
I dug it all in to my new corner garden and planted a couple of zucchini plants I had sprouted from seed. I would have planted more, but none of my golden zucchini seeds sprouted this year for some reason. Also, while digging all the goodies into the garden, I stood on the pot holding the three black zucchini plants that did sprout and killed one of them. Sigh.
Here's a photo of the two zucchini plants that survived long enough to get planted:
Right now they look tiny in that big corner garden, but they'll grow and spread.
I've also planted some more zucchini seeds in around them, and I'm hoping some of them take. Ideally I would like about five or six zucchinis in this garden, since it's such a big space and I love freezing grated zucchini for use throughout the year.
Here's a close-up so you can see the clay-like soil I'm working with here:
It's going to need a lot more organic matter added to it over time, but I've done what I can for now. (During winter I also sprinkled sheep pellets and vermicast into the garden.)
This weekend my other backyard gardens also got a sprinkle of coffee grounds, before I planted out the last of my seedlings. Large tomatoes got planted in their peat pots into the first garden I ever made here in Wellington. If you squint really hard, you might also be able to see tiny basil seedlings sprouting in front of the tomatoes:
I planted a variety of cherry tomatoes in between my new passionfruit vines:
I planted broccoli and cabbage seedlings next to the potatoes in the new raised bed:
And I moved three self-seeded pumpkin plants to the secret garden, where some potatoes have also self-seeded:
Now it's time to wait and see whether everything takes hold.
Keeping it all watered is the hardest part for me, as we don't have an outside tap to connect a hose to. However, while gardening on Saturday I met one of my neighbours and she is happy for me to use her hose from time to time. It's a bit awkward though as it means jumping a fence and stretching the hose to its utmost to reach my gardens. Still, it's better than my current watering can method.
I've also been collecting beer bottles to make water globes next to my established plants. These direct water deep down to plant roots, so it doesn't get wasted to evaporation and weeds.
And that's all my gardening news for the week. How are your gardens looking? Seriously, I love hearing your garden news. I'm nerdy like that.
Linked to the Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Fat Tuesdays and Patchwork Living Blogging Bee.