Ain’t no Party like a Free Mulch Party!

“May you live in interesting times”

-Ancient Chinese curse (but not really ancient, nor Chinese)

This is what awaited me when I got home last Thursday night after a twelve hour day. And like the fake ancient Chinese curse, it made for a very interesting logistical conundrum. The city dumps a truck-load of free mulch in the street in front of your house and then the city comes and sites you for having a large pile of mulch in the middle of the street.

At least that’s what I was worried about when I pulled in at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday knowing full well that I will have to be working all through the weekend! But never look a gift horse in the mouth. Where should one look a gift horse in anyways?

Perhaps a little perspective should come into play here. Hey reader! Did you know that the city you live in will provide you unlimited supplies of free mulch!? Well, they do if you know where to look. In this instance, here in San Diego, I signed up for Chipdrop. Here’s the deal with that; you get a free truck-load of freshly chipped mulch delivered to your house… whenever it’s convenient and a chipping project is underway in your general area.

In my case, it took about eight months to receive my mulch. You can opt to pay $20 to have them deliver it a bit sooner if you like as a way to grease the wheels. You can select if you want mostly logs, chips and logs, or mostly chips and you can let them know where they should dump it. Unless you’re like me and have a super skinny anorexic driveway, in which case they’ll have to drop it in the street in front of your house. Continue reading “Ain’t no Party like a Free Mulch Party!”

Starbucks has Free Spent Coffee Grounds for the Garden!

I just love it when a large company like Starbucks goes out of their way to do a decent, responsible and sustainable thing to make the world a better place. They don’t have to do it. It doesn’t net them any extra cash, in fact, it probably adds some costs. But they did it anyways!

Many Starbucks locations now keep their spent coffee grounds out of the landfills and into our garden! Which is really smart when you think about it. Used coffee grounds are very nitrogen rich and although some of their acidic properties are stripped away during the percolating process, raw spent coffee grounds are best saved for your acid loving plants. They are however a perfect addition to your compost bins or a yummy treat for your worms (vermicomposting). Once composted, they can be used as a top dressing or a soil additive with the rest of your compost.

Raw un-composted coffee grounds can be used for all your acid loving plants. Or, if you have very alkaline soil (like we do in San Diego), they can be used with more fervor on most any plant species. Roses absolutely adore the nutrients from coffee grounds. So do plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries and raspberries. In fact, you can make a fertilizer “tea” with these spent grounds that will make any berry bush seem to double it’s production and growth rate. Pink hydrangeas aren’t your thing? Lowering the pH with acidic coffee grounds will turn them blue!

There’s also a lot of Magnesium and Potassium, both of which plants really like; but not a lot of phosphorus (the fruiting and flowering nutrient) or calcium, a mineral that many plants crave. So use these grounds carefully and know your soil pH levels before going hog wild!

In other words, Mind Your Dirt!

How to Repot a Bonsai: The Chinese Elm

I’m not exactly certain as to how old my Chinese Elm bonsai is. I know it’s the oldest bonsai I have in my collection, but I am not the first owner so I can’t be sure its exact age. Lets just say it’s old and leave it at that. Old enough for me to have been afraid to repot it for the last few years. Today is the day where I must get over that fear and dive in head first.

It’s growth has been stunted the last year and a half, so I just know that the pot it getting root bound and the soil is spent. It’s time to sh*t or get off the pot, if you will. So, with that said, let’s dive in!

Here it is in its shabby state.

1b_Chinese Elm
Chinese Elm Bonsai

Try to ignore the wild growth on the left side, I’m trying to create some new branching so it’s gonna look unsightly for a while. Notice instead the general lack of foliage and the shabbiness of the soil. Gross!

3_Chinese Elm Detail
Chinese Elm Nebari

Continue reading “How to Repot a Bonsai: The Chinese Elm”