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We do certainly seem to be having a real winter, finally, and lasting for longer than a couple of days! Hoorah!
My husband always gets a kick out of my attitude toward whatever weather’s happening: hot is wonderful for ripening tomatoes, cold is great for fruit trees’ chill hours, moderate and dry is fine for working in the garden.
But, now our wet drippiness is truly a gift to the garden as a whole, after all these years of drought and the driest February which should have been our wettest month.
So I go outdoors, stretch out my arms, turn my head up to the sky, and relish every individual drop, knowing that the garden is equally appreciative in absorbing all the moisture.
Coffee Grounds as Nutritional Mulch
Two years ago, following a not-very-vigorous pea crop, I started mulching my bed with coffee grounds I’d picked up at Starbucks following some publicity about the company’s eagerness to give them away to gardeners.
Because coffee is acidic, I’d assumed that the grounds would be great for acid-loving plants like camellias, but not much else. And, I figured I’d have to compost them before using them.
But when the quantity of grounds that I could pick up went beyond my few acid-loving plants and threatened to overload the compost pile, I did some additional research. I found that the grounds were more of a middle-of-the-road provider of a broad range of nutrients, and that they didn’t need to be composted first. They could be applied directly to the garden soil.
This revelation made me shift into high gear, figuring I could help the entire garden with only the expense of gas to pick up the grounds a couple of times a week. So, I found about a dozen Starbucks, Peets, and Trader Joes in a local area that I was potentially willing to drive to pick up grounds.
After approaching each store with my proposal, and some false starts, I established good relationships with the management and employees at three Starbucks and one Trader Joe’s. I’d call them in the morning of any day that was convenient for me, and they’d save grounds for me to pick up later that day.
The first mass application went into that pea bed, turning in a two-inch layer of grounds into the top 4 inches of soil and compost. That next year’s peas were strong and plentiful, so I knew they were benefiting from the grounds.
Onto the rest of the garden!
Since last Spring, all the raised vegetable beds and all the fruit trees have their two-inch layers. The vegetable beds were done by September and have been beautifully productive all through the fall and winter.
We’ve just finished supplying the fruit trees, filling the space inside their watering berms a good two feet beyond their trunks with the grounds to foster nutrition to the root zones whenever the tree was watered.