6/29/10

How to Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Coffee grounds for the garden from Starbucks. Photo copyright www.DanielleCopeland.comStarbucks gives away bags of used coffee grounds each day. It's part of a recycling program called Grounds for your Garden. This bag had a gallon and a half of fragrant grounds and today, my garden is buzzing with caffine. During the bewing process, most of the acidity is removed, leaving used grounds with an average pH of 6.9 and a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20-to-1. This important to know because it determines how to use it in the garden.

I could have added it to my new compost tumbler, but I already had a lot of "green" in the tumbler, so I didn't need any more. I decided to use it as a side dressing to the brambles, specifically to the blueberries and blackberries.

Blueberry bush with coffee grounds from Starbucks. Photo copyright www.DanielleCopeland.com
Blackberry bush with coffee grounds from Starbucks. Photo copyright www.DanielleCopeland.comThe blackberries need a soil pH level of between 6.0 and 6.8, so this isn't the perfect side dressing, but it's better than the nothing that I've been using for the past few months.


Want to to know more about soil pH in the South Florida Garden? Here's one of my archived articles:
 
How to Control Soil pH Levels by Danielle Copeland
 
 

6/24/10

Lemon-Pepper-Rosemary Salt Recipe

A friend's birthday is coming up. I want to give her a culinary gift, so I walked through the garden for inspiration. I think a Lemon-Pepper-Rosemary Salt is in order! I grabbed two sprigs of rosemary, a lemon, pepper corns, and salt.....and Voila!
Lemon Pepper Rosemary Salt from www.DanielleCopeland.com
First, I googled rosemary salt. I found a recipe that I liked and slightly modified it. The original recipe is shown below.
Lemon Pepper Rosemary Salt
All the ingredients get processed in the food processor. It couldn't be easier.
Lemon Pepper Rosemary Salt
This recipe yields 1 cup of salt
Rosemary for the Lemon Pepper Rosemary Salt Recipe

Lemon-Pepper-Rosemary Salt Recipe

Grated zest of 2 lemons
Fresh rosemary leaves from 2 (5-inch) branches
1 Tbsp. freshly pepper corns
3/4 cup coarse sea salt

Directions: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process lemon zest, rosemary leaves, and pepper until finely chopped, about 1 minute. Add salt and pulse until salt forms smaller crystals and mixture is blended, about 30 seconds. Pack into glass jars with tight-fitting lids and store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months. Attach a ribbon and gift tag with serving ideas, such as "Terrific sprinkled on roast chicken, grilled meats, fish, or steamed vegetables."
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6/23/10

Drought Tolerant Summer Plants

I replanted the front planers a month ago...they have grown soooo much since then. Planters need more water than in-ground beds because they dry out faster. During the summer, the top 8 inches of my planters dry out daily by early afternoon. Here's a few tips for keeping those container plantings hydrated.


Tips for Summer Container Plantings
- Use succulents (shown here is sedum) because they tolerate the dryness
- Use a soil amendment such as Agri-Gel or Soil2O
- Mulch with no less than 3 inches of bark or chips

I love to use Sedum Rupestre (Florida Friendly Gold variety) during the summer months because it's a succulent. This variety is just what happens to be available at my local store. Succulents retain water in their leaves...that's why the leaves aren't flat like a maple leaf, rather they are bulbous...think aloe, cactus, jade.

Pruning the Desert Rose, an Ugly Duckling

My mother in law gave me a neglected desert rose a few months ago. I lobbed off the shrivled, rotten tips in hopes that new growth would sprout up in a few months. It worked!
Many times when you snip the top of a plant, two new growth limbs will spring up just below your cut. Here's my dracaena back in 2008 a few months after I pruned it.
Here's the avocado tree a few weeks after pruning. The new growth is red and later greened up.

6/22/10

Compost Tumbler Part 2: Assembly

I built the compost tumbler this morning before the heat set in. It took about a half hour and I'm really surprised the assembly was so easy. I used vegetable oil as lube (as recommended in the instructions) and all the parts fit into place perfectly. I'm kinda wimpy, so I used a rubber mallot to snap the pieces together when my brute strenghth failed me. :) I'm happy to say, this was a one-woman job and I did it!

I'm reviewing this tumbler for Organic Compost Tumbler and so far, I give this item a thumbs up!!!

I've never composted before, so I was reading through the instructions. It looks like I need to make a decision...will I use the hot or cold composting method??? More on this later.

Many gardeners say that compost is THE most important part of a garden.

Here's a 25 second clip of all the parts that make up the tumbler.

Here's my pre-assembly photo.

6/21/10

The New Compost Tumbler: Part 1

The slow ride from Duck Key to Martin County this afternoon was not so bad...especially because I was thinking about putting together the new compost tumbler!!!

I am off to watch the assembly video now. I got it from the retailer Organic-Compost-Tumbler.com, and I think I might do a time lapse video of my assembly efforts. I can't wait! :)
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Bougainvillea Topiary Tree

Just got back from 2 weeks in the Florida Keys. On the journey north, we travelled through Key Largo, stopped at a light, and saw this beautiful bougainvillea topiary tree.

I can't begin to imagine how mature it is...decades I'm sure. I have no idea how many different plants were used and I don't know what type of internal support was used. I was able to see several variegated plants and a few orange blooms, which are more rare than the fuschia variety that is so common down here in South Florida.

This specimen is unusual for a couple reasons. First, it's huge and mature. Second, it's not just 1 plant that has a triple braided "trunk" It is many different plants as evidenced by the many colors. Third, I would consider it a topiary because of it's shape.

By the way, these past two weeks have been record breaking in terms of heat. It's been feeling like 105 each day after you factor in humidity...at least that's what the local news says. Good news: there are no mosquitoes or noseeums in Duck Key!!!! How'd they do that?
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6/16/10

Florida Keys Flowers

We are vacationing in the FL Keys for the next few days. Here's a shot of the coconut palms and bougainvillea that cover this area. I have a cool story about how one of the larger islands got its name based on these plants...

We are staying a few minutes south of Islamorada, on a small key called Duck Key. When the first modern Spanish explorers came to the shore, they saw all the bougainvillea and named the key "Islamorada" or purple isle."

By the way, the water here in Marathon, Duck Key, and Islamorada is oil free! There is a BP Claims Office in Marathon, but it looks to be closed. The last update I heard was that $3 mil has been spent on compensating Florida's claims and $30 mil has been allocated to Florida tourism television ads. Nice.

The above photo was taken on the south side of Duck Key, in Tom's Harbour. The 3 story house in the foreground of this photo is next door to the house where we are staying. The bougainvillea are planted in huge retaining walls which are on the ground floor and rise up to the second floor. The walls are finished with coral or coquina. It's beautiful.
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6/3/10

Some Sunflowers Are Too Big

There's a debate about genetic engineering in todays plants. Should it be promoted or banned? Read below for more. In the meantime, take a look at my sunflower photos...there's a connection between these photos and the genetic engineering debate.



Plants such as sunflowers can be genetically engineered to yield better oil, larger flowers, bigger seeds, etc. As usual, money is the impetus for innovation. Modern growers can maximize profits by growing crops hybridized for their customers' needs.

One common reason for genetically engineering plants is for disease resistance. Another reason is for aesthetics. The tomato for example has been engineered to have thicker skin (for shipping purposes), to be more resistant to diseases, and to be perfectly round and red. Many modern varieties have a lower acid content. Our grandmothers used to have to simmer sauce all day to sweeten up the tomatoes...it's not so necessary these days.

The common varieties of sunflower seeds available to home growers these days are genetically engineered to grow very tall. This is what consumers want. Some have said that sunflowers have been engineered to have such large flowers that the plant cannot support the weight of the flower.

A recent History Channel show commented that the corn we Americans grow today is nothing like the corn that the Pilgrims grew in early America. It used to be hard, small, and pale.

Good or bad, genetically engineered produce and plants is here to stay. Fortunately, there are seed preservationists out there.
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