Saturday, May 24, 2008

Garden Buzz

Not the kind you hear when a bee whizzes buzz.

The fine young gents and I took a trip to the Farmer's Market in search of Sungold cherry tomatoes. Well, I was in search of the Sungolds. The fine young gents were lured to the market by promises of cookies and getting to push the buttons on the pay-to-park machine. We also bought celery starts, a mild hot pepper plant, two varieties of watermelon for the gents to try, and fresh strawberries for tomorrow's breakfast.

Next stop: A quick trip to the garden store to look for a natural snail deterrent. Some things slimy munched my beautiful broccoli, then helped themselves to our lovely salad greens and gorged on our spinach for dessert.

While at the garden store, a fine young gent needed to use the restroom, which meant a trip across the way to the coffee store. Serendipity. On the door to the coffee store was a sign offering free coffee grounds to gardeners. The coffee gal led me around to the dumpster, conveniently located next to the garden store. Bags and bags of used coffee grounds and filters, plus a large bin of coffee grounds for those gardeners savvy enough to bring their own containers. Tea and tea bags, too, Coffee Gal told us. We grabbed as many bags as we could carry, the gents groaning the whole way back to the car. On the way home our car smelled like coffee.

As for my snail deterrent, which I forgot to buy, I read this article: How to Compost with Coffee, which states that, among other things, coffee may be a slug and snail deterrent because they don't like the texture or the caffeine, and (even better) coffee grounds can also be a cat deterrent.

There's a light layer of coffee grounds sprinkled around my poor mangled broccoli and my hole-y greens in hope that our slimy night visitors will go away, and a generous sprinkle in our tiny flowerbed-turned-cat-toilet in hopes that the neighborhood cats will stay away too. Despite washing many times my hands smell faintly of coffee. And oranges. There was a whole orange in one of our coffee bags, thrown away once it had been zested, and since citrus may be a natural cat deterrent as well, I squeezed the orange over the coffee grounds for good measure. Tomorrow I'll dig the rest of the grounds into my nearly-ready compost bin and share the wealth with my dear friend down the street, then back for more some time this week.

More information about composting with coffee grounds:

Coffee Grounds and Composting at

According to, "Sunset sent a batch of Starbucks’ used coffee grounds — the company gives them away for free — to a soil lab for analysis. Turns out the grounds provide generous amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. They also release nitrogen into the soil as they degrade. And they’re slightly acidic — a boon in the Western climate." Read the full lab report: "The Starbucks coffee compost test".

Coffee and Gardening at Sustainable Enterprises
As long as I'm at it, a garden report:
We've got carrots up, just thinned. We'll plant some more this week. I love carrot tops in the garden. They're so cheerful.

Our first planting of peas is climbing the string trellis, peas from the second planting have peeked their little heads up and are racing to catch up to their earlier brothers.

The tomatoes we bought a couple weeks ago are thriving, and I've counted ten volunteers of at least two different varieties, joined by a lone strawberry volunteer far from the strawberry bed.

The strawberries in the front and back yards are loving the warm-cool-warm-cool weather cycle, growing tall and covered with blossoms, and we spotted a nearly ripe berry yesterday.

We've harvested greens--salad and spinach--twice already, and they were...greening?...growing, anyway...beautifully for a third harvest until the snail feast. Fine young gent chose head lettuce at the Farmer's Market today, so we'll have plenty of salad for the table this summer.

Our raspberries are thriving and spreading. Even the one I left for dead but couldn't be bothered to pull up has sent up shoots or whatever they're called all around the bare stick I planted last year.

The rhubarb has returned. Last year we got one stalk. This year we'll get plenty, maybe even enough to divide the plant and share with a gardening friend.

We've been gifted with cabbages, dill, lettuce starts, and another tomato by our lovely friends and neighbors. Some are planted and thriving, and some I planted just yesterday. Thank you, my lovely thoughtful friends.

In two weeks we'll get to pick up our CSA box from the Food for Lane County youth farm. We've never participated in a CSA program before. I can't wait to see what's in the box! (What is CSA? Read about it here. A list of Eugene area CSA's--Community Supported Agriculture--here.)

We've got a promise of free tomato and sweet pepper and cucumber starts from the youth farm when we volunteer on Wednesday. (IrieMeg, if you read this in time, want to join us?) We may be able to bring home some lovely rich leaf mulch as well, which we need for one of the garden beds and to mix into our compost bin.

Waiting on the planting table: A Sungold tomato, celery, marigolds, a hot pepper, head lettuce, a bush baby watermelon and a yellow watermelon, and assorted flowers chosen by the fine young gents.

I'm reading The Vegetable Gardener's Bible.

And I hope to get the camera (and my own busy self) out into the garden this week.


Elizabeth said...

Really sounds like my kind of day. I wish I had time to put in a nice garden. By the time it was time to reap the rewards we would be gone. Beer is supposed to work on slugs too. You have to put it in low containers and sink them in the ground. It's cruel because the little slimy buggers drown.

living in PA said...

Enjoy the CSA! I hope you get some good stuff...although it sounds like you have a bountiful harvest in your own yard. Yea!
I hope you get rid of your snails/slugs.