The thermometer's heading down, the central heating's going up and my jaunts into the garden are mainly to either tidy up leaves or re-fill the bird feeders. Speaking of which, I've had loads of sparrows, robins and blue tits at the feeders, but yesterday - wow! - a goldfinch turned up. Only a fleeting visit, but I was ridiculously excited to see it. Apparently they really like niger seeds, so I'll stock up on those and hope it'll be a tempting treat for the bird to return.
Well, no real gardening to be done for me, so it's armchair gardening, armed with scissors, a glue stick and Sarah Raven's seed catalogue. I'm on the mailing list for various companies to send me their seed catalogues, but Ms Raven's is definitely the best designed and most inspiring. I love the varieties she chooses to include and the luscious colours combinations. I have a childish love of cutting and pasting - who needs those 'colouring books for grown ups', eh? - so like snipping out images and grouping them together. Getting ideas for what I can grow and what colours most appeal.
It's a great way to mull over what you want your flower borders to look like, and to dream of having an unlimited budget and Monty Don standard green fingers. I'm also in the early stages of trying to see if there's a business idea here, becoming a small scale flower farmer. Not so much a one-man-band as a one-woman-flower-farmer. Growing organically and locally, supplying bunches of flowers in more interesting colours and varieties than found in standard supermarket bouquets. I'm not imagining I could become the next Interflora, but maybe acquire a modest patch of land and set up a polytunnel and some beds. Only a pleasing daydream, or a real possibility?
I'd need to spend next year learning basic floristry skills, learning everything I possibly can about growing flowers, investigating the market and getting a clear idea of what'd be involved and if it's within my capabilities. Yup, it's an enticing idea. What d'ya think?
It's not only cold out, but it's rainy too. I'm a fair-weather gardener, I admit it. There're things I could be doing outside, but it's cosier in. Instead, let me explain why there's a photo of coffee beans on this blog.
Now, I'm not much of a coffee drinker. I know we're all supposed to know our Americano from our Macchiato, our Arabica beans from our Robusta. Me, I'm happy with a Costa Coffee latte or a homemade cup of the cheap & cheerful stuff from Aldi.
However, if I'm in a coffee shop I do like to check out the 'take me I'm free' basket. All decent shops have one where they'll offer coffee grounds bagged up for gardeners to help themselves to. If you've not picked up one before, then keep eye out for a bag next time you're in a shop. Used coffee grounds are ideal for helping improve your soil. I've got a bag of 'em from Starbucks next to me and I'll quote from the pack's label:
'Much of coffee's acidity is removed in the brewing process, leaving behind a green material that promotes plant growth, repels ants and slugs, and entices earthworms. Coffee grounds have an average pH of 6.9, a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20:1, and can be added directly to your garden as a side dressing for nitrogen-loving plants (test with a small amount first). Or add to your compost. Combine with 'brown' materials for enriched compost. Experts recommend up to 20% coffee grounds in a compost pile.'
I won't pretend to understand the pH and carbon-nitrogen bit, but the rest is pretty straightforward. Dig the coffee grounds in to your soil, or stick it in the compost bin. I like the bit about how it helps to repel slugs (yay!) and of course anything that helps earthworms is good for your garden's overall health.
Bagged, used coffee grounds generally turn up in Costa, Starbucks and Boston Tea Party, but I'm sure any local independent coffee shop would happily let you have them too.
Free and green, what's not to like, eh?
It was mild enough today to get outside and do some 'garden housekeeping'. I tidied up fallen leaves and was intending to rip out all the now-tatty-looking nasturtiums, but I kept seeing caterpillars lurking in the greenery. So the nasturtiums are hanging around for the time being and hopefully providing food and shelter for the wildlife.
Moved from a garden-less city flat in the South West to a Yorkshire village in 2016. I now have a garden ... of sorts.