Now that we’re well into fall, I’ve been getting the garden ready for winter little by little. As I have time, I trim and clear the flower beds of dried stems and leaves so they’ll look a little neater over winter. As I was clearing one bed recently, I saw what looked like part of a cantaloupe under the leaves of another bushy plant. How would a cantaloupe get in my flower bed? I wondered. When I cleared away some of the growth covering this strange object, I discovered that it was indeed a nice round little cantaloupe still attached to the vine! I didn’t plant any cantaloupe seeds in my garden-I actually have tried to grow melons before, but with no success. So it must have grown from seeds in my compost pile. All year long, I continue to add coffee grounds, fresh fruit and vegetable scraps (including seeds), and plant clippings to the compost pile in my yard. This spring, I had a nice amount of rich, moist compost to spread around my flower beds. And without me realizing it, this cantaloupe vine had started growing in one of the beds, mostly hidden by other bigger plants. What a fun surprise! I felt a little sense of accomplishment as I picked the melon off the vine in my garden, even though I hadn’t really done anything to cause it to grow. So, I am resolving next year to try growing melons again!
In case you’re wondering what those other cuttings are in the basket, they are blooms from my garlic chive plants that are in the process of drying out. In the fall, I collect the seeds from the dried chive blooms. I plant these the following spring to grow more chive plants and also give the seeds to friends who plant them in their yards. Chives are so easy to grow and it’s great to have them growing all summer long so you can use them fresh when you cook and bake things! Finely chopped chives are also good mixed in cream cheese or scrambled eggs. Here’s a close-up of the chive bloom–those little black rounded shapes in the upper right of the photo are the seeds…
I haven’t cut open the cantaloupe yet…I want to admire it a little longer before I do! 🙂
I’ve known about Starbucks’ Grounds for Your Garden for about three years now. But a lot of people don’t know about it, so I thought I’d mention it because it’s such a great idea! Starbucks actually started this program back in 1995, offering customers complimentary five-pound bags of used coffee grounds that they could use for their gardens, as part of their corporate effort to recycle and reduce waste. And they’ve continued doing this each year since…when spring comes around, you’ll notice bins filled with free packages of used coffee grounds in most Starbucks coffee shops. Each bag of grounds has a sticker attached that gives directions on how to use them–either by adding directly in the garden or in a compost pile.
Coffee grounds add valuable nutrients like nitrogen and potassium to your garden (other nutrients include phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and copper). You can mix coffee grounds into the soil or sprinkle them around any flowers in your garden as an extra fertilizer; they work well especially with acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, and magnolias. Or you can sprinkle lightly around vegetables in your garden. Don’t apply too thickly; the grounds applied directly to the soil should be less than 1/4″ thick to avoid the growth of certain fungus.
I read on the About.com website that coffee grounds can help control some bugs. They say that, supposedly, ants hate coffee–so you can try spreading the grounds where you have ant problems.
If you want to start composting at home, you can fill a wooden or plastic bin in your yard with a mixture of leaves and other yard trimmings; then mix in coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps from fruits and vegetables (do not add any scraps from animal products–that will contaminate your compost pile). Keep the materials in the bin moist and mix every so often to encourage the composting process. The compost will be ready to use in your garden when it fully decomposes into a dark rich soil-like material. You can layer on compost about 1/2 thick in your garden beds–it’s a great fertilizer and it discourages weeds and helps keeps plants moist, so you don’t need to water as often.
So try using some used coffee grounds in your garden–your plants will love it, and it’s a great way to help the recycling effort! It’s also a good excuse to stop by Starbucks and treat yourself to a yummy Frappuccino® this summer!
(Frappuccinos® pictured above are from the Starbucks website)