Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Power of Italian Roast

Eight out of ten of us start the day with a steaming cup of hot coffee. I start my day in a complete fog. Lucky for me the coffee maker is an auto-start contraption. I consider that a premiere achievement of modern man.

My Azaleas love their morning coffee as much as I do. Azaleas need acidic soil and that doesn't exist here in Utah. But, I got a hot tip about making my soil more acidic by using leftover coffee grounds.*

Coffee grounds slowly release nitrogen into the soil as they degrade. They’re slightly acidic, a blessing for Azaleas and other acid-loving plants. The grounds also provide a generous amount of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Check with Dr. Science about the groovy details. As Stephen Colbert would say, "All you need to know is..." --- coffee grounds green up plants, improve soil conditions, and encourage rapid growth.

I may have over done it. Each morning I sprinkle Italian Roast over the Azalea bush and it’s doing okay. Right next to it, though, is a honeysuckle vine that’s hit 12 feet and still climbing! (I guess that's what they mean by 'rapid growth.')

I’m lazy. I sprinkle them on top. Best way is to till coffee grounds into the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.

* Starbucks gives away coffee grounds for free. Strawberries love ‘em, Hydrangeas go nuts. Evergreens perk up quite nicely. They’re also great at combating ant problems.

Q & A: "Black Moon" wrote to me about ‘rust’ on hollyhocks. Rust disease is found nearly everywhere hollyhocks are grown, though I’ve never experienced it and this is why: Hollyhocks are hellacious re-seeders and I don't want them coming up everywhere. So, I cut down all my hollies, right after they bloom and toss the remains.

Rust disease is a fungus that overwinters in plant debris, forming new, infectious spores on hollies every year.

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