coffee

We’ve Got Pumpkins!

And you will never see more excitement in the garden than kids discovering their first recognizable pumpkins.  Except in the case of worms and frogs.  Those are WAY exciting.

Granted we missed Halloween, but these are sugar pumpkins and we intend to cook them into pumpkin pie.  YUM! :)  Next up, our first tomato. More

Options for Edible Borders

Mandy’s garden is really beginning to take shape.  The front planter is brimming with rosemary, cabbage and bok choy among others while her rosemary transplants are surviving.  (Sometimes, that’s all we can ask!)  She’s been busy adding herbs to her walkway as well, tucking them in between the Vs of each paver–which stopped me in my merry photo shoot tracks. 

AGH–you put them where?  I stared at them in alarm, then I turned to face her.  Bright-eyed and proud, she stood awaiting my reply.  How was I going to break this gently?  I mean, disappointing enthusiastic gardeners was not on the top of my list of things to do.  But she had to be told. 

“Um, Mandy…these oregano are going to spread quite wide and far and–”

“Oh, I know!” she chirped (she’s very happy that way).  “But those radish will clear out pretty quickly so I’m planning on having the oregano fill in the space.”

I smiled.  Well I do like a knowledgable garden gal!  She’d already planned for near catastrophe–or more specifically–how to avoid it.  “Perfect,” I replied and resumed the business of snapping pictures.

Not only does she have oregano in place, but parsley, thyme, chives, basil–the works!  And while some of these will grow to be a tad crowded, it’s nothing she can’t manage with a little clipping.  Besides, this woman plans to USE these herbs, not just gaze at them in admiration!

But we did notice a wee bit of a bug problem with the cabbage.  Seems someone is chewing holes in her leaves.  Solution?

Follow your nose!  And the stinkier the better when it comes to organic pest control.  By that I mean garlic, coffee, compost, manure, mint…really depends on what beast you’re after for which method you choose.  Check the Garden Elements section of my website for full details, but with some experimenting on Mandy’s part, I’m sure she’ll find just the right concoction to rid her garden of pests.  Let’s hope for some windy days ahead, too.  Will help minimize the front porch stench.

No worries!  We’d rather be temporarily inconvenienced by the all-natural aromas than permanently poisoned by toxic alternatives. :)

 

Grocery Inflation

As if we needed yet another reason to garden–have you seen the price of food lately?  From fresh vegetables to coffee and cotton, prices have jumped.  And don’t even ask about the price of chocolate.  Our beloved sweet may become a rare commodity, indeed.  No kidding.  Seems West Africa farmers are giving up the crop in pursuit of better wages in the cities while at the same time, world demand is increasing.  Have you heard the health benefits of dark chocolate?  Heavy on the cocoa, easy on the milk.  Not a good combination when it comes to the demand side of the equation. 

Then of course there’s a certain hedge fund manager who bought a ton (literally, I think) of cocoa beans for investment.  Downright evil market manipulation is what I call it.  How could he be so cruel?  Why, I have a mind to grow some cocoa plants myself.  I’m in Florida, they grow near the Equator…  Sounds like a feasibility study’s in order!

Thank goodness gardening is easy and fun, else we’d all starve of malnutrition and chocolate deprivation.  Plant, water, harvest, consume–easy!  

Okay.  You caught me.  I’m luring you in.  But truthfully, gardening doesn’t have to be hard.  In fact, once you learn the secrets to mutinous-proof weed maintenance, it’s even easier.  If you don’t believe me, ask my kids. 

Or, follow along as I guide my friend Julie through the process of starting a family garden.  We’ll begin from scratch and work our way through each step of the process, much like we did with Mandie.  Remember her?  She’s still gardening, I think.  (Please, Mandie–tell us you’re still you’re still growing green and strong!) 

But there are more great reasons to garden than it’s easy and fun.  Think of the health benefits (non-toxic, because we only garden organic), the convenience (who has time to run to the store every time they feel like a fresh strawberry and spinach salad?), the educational aspect (last time I checked, botany was still a subject at school), and of course, who can forget the main reason:  gardening for the sheer joy of it.  For the kids, it’s more the adventure factor–creepy crawlies tend to be exciting for them whereas we seem to have lost the enthusiasm for that kind of thrill.  (Wait–I know it’s here somewhere…) 

Stay-tuned and watch the fun as Julie and her family venture into the land of green.  Better yet, how about join her and start a garden of your own and share your experience wit us?  We learn by doing!  A lesson best achieved in the company of fellow enthusiasts. 

Though it sure would be nice if cocoa plants grew like this row of garlic.  I could wait a season.  But five years is pushing it.

Use it or lose it

From muscle tone to precious resources, you can view this old favorite from several different perspectives.  In light of the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen, let’s focus on the latter.  While I’m no advocate for the global warming crisis – because I believe it’s a bit presumptive of us to make such vast predictions based on the tiny window of time we humans have inhabited this earth – scientific “models” are just that: “models” – I think we can all agree there’s no sense in waste.  From frugal consumption to garbage disposal, we should all practice clean living habits, and be good stewards of our environment.  I mean, even a dog knows better than to soil his living space, shouldn’t we humans?

Call me a waste-not-want-not kinda gal, but this is a motto I can live by, starting with my morning java.  You’re already dispatching your leftover veggie omelette to the compost pile, how about your coffee?  Used coffee grounds are in high demand around my garden so once I’ve had my fill, the used grounds are scattered among the blueberries, raspberries, azaleas and gardenias – don’t fight kids, there’s enough for all of you! – and my rose bushes, too (you all can thank me later with a bounty of produce). 

stores easily under your cabinet

I even save the old coffee and dilute it with water, to make a spray for insects.  I recently read in an organic gardening magazine one woman had good results keeping the white files from her tomato and basil by doing so.  Granted, it’s not a scientific fact – remember, I tend to question these things – I figure if it worked for her it can work for me!  If it’s easy, the questions become less frequent.  And why not pour some around the base of your potatoes, while you’re at it.  They love acid, they should love coffee, right?

And don’t forget that newspaper you’re reading.  When you’re finished, use it as mulch along your walking rows to keep the weeds at bay.  I’d place mine (if I still took my news the un-green way) beneath the hay so I don’t ruin that lovely “welcome to the garden” feeling I get every time I gaze at my neatly lined rows of straw.  It’s the little things that please me most.  (Big smile, here.)  That, and productivity.  Don’t forget, there’s a reason I’m saving the earth via my garden:  I have mouths to feed and years to enjoy.

But don’t stop there!  After school, what water the kids don’t drink, dump the remainder of their thermos into your houseplants – not down the drain.  Same goes for juices, etc.  I use these in the compost pile, though liquid in the bin does add to the mess factor on the way out — kids are working to fine tune their balancing skills for this amazing feat — another positive side effect. 

However you manage it, I’m a believer in wasting nothing.  Not because science dictates such, but because it makes sense.  Common sense; something we strive for everyday in our household. Without it, momma goes insane!