Welcome to the first edition of Terrace Plant Thursday!
Over the next few months (or as long as I have material), I’m dedicating Thursday blog posts to gardening tips. The gardening tips that I’ll be focusing on will revolve around stuff that you can do if you very little space. From a window sill to a balcony or terrace/courtyard, these tips will let you be able to do gardening without needing a garden to do it in. Of course if you have more room you can always just do more of it!
To start the whole thing off I want to talk about the soil that I use the whole way through this series, and in fact all the time. When you pot a plant, the soil is only one small part of the whole thing – you need fertiliser, water, the plant, etc. But, if the soil is nice and rich and the plant likes it, it really helps the growth.
This is the secret to my special soil mix.
What you see above is the key ingredients – egg, coffee and tea. Sounds weird, right? It’s not only great for the soil and the plant, but also for the environment.
So everyone knows that eggs are high in protein and nutrients and that they help living things grow up to be big and strong. Plants are living things!
I came to a point where I got sick of throwing away so many egg shells and wondered if I could do something else with them. I researched a bit on the net and found that throwing them in the compost is great. However, I can’t have a compost bin because my flat has nowhere to put it.
Then I remembered that a friend of mine throws his egg shells into a pestle and grinds them up with a mortar to get them to almost a powdery state. I looked this up and apparently this is a great way for the egg shells to deposit their rich nutrients into the soil and into the growing plants.
You have to make sure that you rinse out all of the white yolk and skin from inside the shells and then leave them to dry before grinding them up, though. Otherwise you end up with a papery type of skin in there and it doesn’t crush.
I love my coffee and I have a great coffee machine at home that makes great drip filter coffee. Again, I got sick of throwing out all of the coffee grinds and wondered if there was something else I could do with them.
I got really inspired by a bunch of guys in the US who are using spent coffee grinds to grow mushrooms and decided to dry my used grinds out and see how they go. (http://store.backtotheroots.com/MushroomKit_p/mushroom-kit.htm)
Because I don’t need that much for my plants, I just occasionally tip the filter contents onto some paper towel and leave it sit in the sun to dry out. Then when it’s dry, I put it into a container and save it for later.
In my experience, I found that mixing coffee into the soil makes for a great rich nutrient meal for plants. Seeds also love starting off in coffee – it’s easy to grow in, has nutrients and makes them shoot up really quickly!
Okay, pretty much the same story as the above, but I hate throwing out the tea bags. I just open up the tea bags (black tea, not herbal stuff) and lay the contents out to dry like I do with the coffee.
I haven’t really seen if this makes a huge difference, but it doesn’t seem to hurt and it’s recycling a tea bag here and there.
So, once you have saved up a bunch of these ingredients (the coffee and egg will do, the tea is a bonus), put them into a bowl and mix it all up. I usually put in a tablespoon of coffee, a tablespoon of egg “powder” and a cup of soil. It seems to be a nice mix.
In the spirit of keeping gardening cheap, I use the cheapest potting mix I can find. The extra stuff makes it great, but I really don’t think it matters too much what sort of soil you use. If you are potting seeds or bonsai, I would also suggest a tablespoon of sand, but it isn’t that necessary.
I will be using this soil mix for all of my planting and potting through this series, so I wanted to get this out there first.
Thanks for reading – next issue will be about how to make your herbs tastier.