Roses, Coffee & A Plant Hack

roses

Do you know the countries that supply the world with roses? According to an article that I just read in Quartz, for this past Valentine’s Day, the top cut rose exporter was Netherlands with 42.4%. Coming in second was Ecuador with 20.9%. Kenya was third with14.7%. Fourth was Columbia with 12.8%. Rounding out the top five was Ethiopia with 4.3%.

When I think of Kenya, I often think of coffee. Now that I look closer at this list, my mind often links Ethiopia and Columbia with coffee too. There are rich nutrients in the soil of lands where coffee beans and roses flourish.

A few days ago, I wrote about my problems growing roses. Back then, I hadn’t learned about the coffee hack for plants. Years ago, I heard that putting coffee grounds in or on the soil would help house plants. That never worked for me.

The coffee rose connection reminds me of the pH level of soil. I’ve never tested the pH level of the soil that I use. Maybe it’s something I can see on the packaging? I’ll have to look. According to a Homes & Gardens article, pH stands for “potential of Hydrogen.” I know I learned this back in grade school at some point! Acidity and alkalinity are measured against the pH scale. The scale measures different types of things, not just soil.

Water is also measured with this scale. The U.S. Dept. of the Interior states that the pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH under 7 indicates an acid and over 7 indicates a base, also referred to as alkali. Medical News Today states that the purest water is right in the middle with a pH of 7. An acid like vinegar has a pH of 2. Bleach, an alkaline, has a pH of 13.5.

Coffee Hack For Plants

Coffee is acidic, with a pH level ranging from 4 to 5, according to Healthline. I’m not sure of the pH level needed for the soil best to grow coffee or roses. However, it seems that depending upon the pH level of soil that you’re starting with, you’ll either make the soil more acidic or get it closer to being neutral if you add coffee grounds.

The Homes & Gardens article states that most plants prefer somewhat acidic soil (pH 6.5) but vegetables prefer more alkaline soil (7.5). I’m a proud plant parent with 30 plants at the moment and they mostly do quite well. Cacti, roses and African violets tend to be challenges for me. However, a few things changed. Snake plants used to be a problem and now one is thriving! A former neighbor gave me two baby snake plants. The soil was a different mixture than what I usually used. They grew a lot after just a few months. I repotted them together into one pot for a fuller plant. This plant is getting so tall now! The coffee hack isn’t the miracle here though.

Likewise, my cebu blue pothos and zz plant are both growing like crazy now after doing nothing for a year. My aunt suggested adding coffee. Not coffee grounds. She said to reserve a bit of the coffee that I would normally drink and use it to water the plants. I tried. Within a couple of weeks, the zz started growing new shoots! The cebu blue grows so fast now that I made cuttings and have several of these plants. The coffee hack absolutely works.

I water the cebu blue once every seven to ten days. For the zz, I water once every 10 -14 days. I also water my impatiens with coffee water and it has more flowers. Impatiens like a lot of water, so I water twice a week. I don’t use coffee water each time I water the impatiens, but at least every other watering. It’s an ongoing experiment though. The timing changes depending on the season and with each plant.

Recently, I’ve tweaked the coffee hack a bit. Instead of taking from the coffee that I drink, I remove the coffee filter with the grounds still in it. So more coffee for me to get my morning jolt. The coffee hack works for people too! I put the filter in a small glass of water, so the grounds don’t come out, but continues filtering into the water. After a few hours, I take out the filter and use the water for my plants.

If you try the coffee hack for your plants, let me know! ☕

Get Your Seeds For Spring

rose hips seeds

The week after next is March and it will be meteorological spring! For those of us who are cultivating the earth types, we’re planning or at least daydreaming about our gardens. Even if it’s just one or two small containers on a window sill. We’re going to be growing something. So we’re looking for seeds!

The pictures above show seeds harvested from rose hips from my mom’s rose bush. It was fun and seemed like I might be on my way to growing a rose bush of my own. There were a few attempts. Several seedlings grew. Rest in peace dear ones. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you alive.

I’m not quite sure what went so sadly wrong, but those failures don’t deter me. I know I have a green thumb. Maybe just not with roses. Years ago, I bought a miniature rose bush. It lasted for a few years and is gone now too. Gone, but never forgotten. It was a beauty and I do love roses.

Anyway, a recent timely email from someone included a wonderful resource for finding seeds and supporting Black owned businesses. Perfect for Black History Month and all year round. I’ll be looking for some seeds, but not for roses.

So far, I’m planning to grow: basil, rosemary, green leaf lettuce, green onions, hydrangeas and some wildflowers. We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Below is a list with links to websites of some seed businesses. Happy planting!

🌱 🌱 🌱

I Grow Shit

Ivy Leaf Farms

Seed Mail

Grow The Block

Melanated Organics

The Hood Garden

Coco and Seed

Solar Spring Arrives!

solar spring sun on Feburary 5 2022

Have you heard of solar spring? Since weather preoccupies most of us New Englanders, I follow several meteorologists on Twitter. Early this week, I learned from Eric Fisher that today is solar spring!

Today, Dave Epstein followed-up on Boston.com with an article about solar spring’s arrival. He describes this “happy astronomical marker” as the first of three spring markers. Meteorological spring is March 1st and astronomical spring, which I think most of us consider the real spring, will bless our timeline a little after 11:30am on March 20th. Happy happy joy joy!

Finally, the first of all the springs start today! The winter months are tough and for me January is the worst. It’s a long month and we’re usually getting snow for real. Like many feet of snow! It’s literally freezing and dark all the time. The mornings are dark. Late afternoon is dark. It’s just downright gloomy.

February has another vibe. I used to think it was the hardest month. But really it’s not. It’s still cold and snowy, but the light is different. You can see the change. It’s brighter and melts the snow quickly. It’s lighter longer too. There’s light after 5pm and the sun rises earlier in the morning. We get a visible hint of spring. We know in our New England bones that our long cold dark winter will soon end!

According to Epstein, we get more than four more hours of light between now and early May. It’s a big win and plants and animals start acting accordingly. I was thinking that I had more time to decide what I want to grow on my balcony. The plan is to have a small container garden with flowers, herbs and some vegetables.

With Mercury no longer in retrograde, and actually no planets in retrograde for more than two months, it’s a great time to start setting my garden plans in motion. The Mercury shadow period lasts until February 23rd, but after that, it’s all systems go!

Into 2022 & Plant Medicine

Hoya Lisa my plant medicine

Three months ago was the last time that I wrote on this blog!

Between regular life, work, continuing to settle in my new place, the holidays and then getting COVID, I didn’t prioritize my writing. Which is wrong, because I always start feeling off when I don’t write. I’ve had this nagging feeling for a while that I should write something here. Anything, no matter how short.

Recently, a friend and my mom both separately mentioned to me that I should start writing again. So I’m here. Getting back to my practice. Like I do when I return to yoga or meditation when I’ve been away for awhile. Which had been the case for a few weeks when I stopped those as well.

I like to think that I’m good at taking care of myself. But we all slip up every once in a while. Things get overwhelming and we lose track of time and don’t center our wellness. When we don’t center our wellness, we get sick.

In 2020, I didn’t gather with anyone during the holidays. It was awful. So it was wonderful to spend time with loved ones this past Thanksgiving. It was a small gathering. We were all vaccinated and things felt mostly safe.

A COVID CHRISTMAS

In December, when I heard that Omicron was quickly spreading everywhere, I knew that gathering for Christmas was going to be a risk. My mom, brother and I spent three days together over Christmas.

My brother had sniffles by the time he went home. Pre-COVID, we would have thought nothing of it. Luckily he gets tested regularly and soon tested positive. Most of his housemate were sick as well.

My mom and I started to have similar symptoms. I tested positive soon after, but we were never able to get my mom tested. Thankfully we’re all fully vaccinated and boosted, so our symptoms never got worse than that of a bad cold. We assumed my mom had COVID as well, so we all isolated for ten days. The new five day CDC guidance seems questionable at best.

Anyway, now I don’t even know what to think. I took extreme measures not to get COVID. My activities have been extremely limited. I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in almost two years. I never stopped wearing a mask indoors when out in public. I’m barely out in public and work from home.

Even though my case was very mild, we don’t know the long-term effects of COVID. Until the past few years, I had never known that there were long-term effects from getting chickenpox until I learned about shingles. This summer I also got the two doses of the shingles vaccine. 2021 was about getting all the vaccinations! Got the flu shot too!

Although I might have a somewhat heightened immunity to COVID right now, I know that it won’t last. Especially with all the variants popping up. I don’t want to get it again. I’ve heard of people getting it two and three times! So I’m still being very careful. But I do want to find a way to be out in the world a bit more, because I’m missing out on a lot and it’s getting to me.

PLANT MEDICINE

Taking care of my plants, learning about plants and even talking about plants makes me happy. It’s bringing that peaceful feeling from being out in nature to the indoors. From being more immersed in the wellness community, I’ve learned the new (to me) way that many refer to things that help you feel better as medicine. If there’s a certain song that you play that makes you feel better, that song might be your medicine.

It makes sense when you think about the definition of medicine – a treatment for or prevention of disease. Usually we think of it as a pharmaceutical made by a company to fight disease. But what is disease? Dis-ease. When we are not feeling at ease – feeling unwell. Many things can make us feel at ease and they don’t have to be pharmaceuticals.

I’ve realized that plants are a medicine for me and plant therapy is good for my soul. The plant pictured above is called Hoya Australis Lisa. Yes, I have a namesake plant! She is the latest addition to my plant family and a Christmas gift to me from my mom. I usually get plant cuttings from friends and family, so I don’t buy many plants.

I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a plant online, but this was a plant that I really wanted. I’m not going to many stores nowadays and the stores that I do visit, I haven’t seen one. I don’t know anyone with this plant, so I couldn’t get a cutting. I ordered her from Horti and the delivery was very fast, so I was happy with the experience and finding this plant medicine. This is my first Hoya, so I’m looking forward to learning more about this plant as I move into 2022.