Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coffee makes the World go around

We probably have the most alert earthworms in the country. When it rains they don’t merely crawl up from the ground, they backflip (10, 10, 10, 10 from four available judges). And in really heavy rains they have been seen performing synchronized swimming in the water pools. How come?

Well, this is a Swedish garden you know. (All right, all right you can take your eyebrows down and you don’t have to ask “So?” in quite that tone of voice. I’ll explain in a minute.)

Being Swedish basically means you drink lots of coffee. As a matter of fact, Sweden has the second highest coffee consumption in the World per capita beaten only by the Finns. We apparently drink between 9 and 10.5 kg coffee per capita and year according to statistics. So it is a popular drink today. In the beginning the Swedes weren’t as impressed though. The royal ambassador Claes Brorson Rålamb (1622-1698), who went to Turkey and met coffee for the first time, described it as a hot drink made of “peas from Egypt”. In 1685 coffee was imported to Sweden for the first time, but only 0.425 kg. It was also a matter of controversy and even forbidden on several occasions during the 18:th century. The prohibition was more or less observed. It is told that hostesses invited the guests to go into another room and “meet a friend” after dinner. It is also told that the poet Johan Henric Kellgren (1751-1793) asked his friends in for a cup of tea and added “there is brown tea”.

Luckily, nowadays there are no such things as bans against coffee. It is lucky for me, not to mention lucky for the people around me. Trying to talk to me before I've had my morning cup should be labelled with “do not try this at home”. It is lucky for the garden as well. Coffee grounds make excellent fertilizer and soil improvement. Our heavy clay needs every bit of organic matter we can find. Thus, we cover bare surfaces with grass clippings – makes wonders – and minimizes the need for weeding too. And we put the coffee grounds in the compost. I have been seen carrying large bags of coffee grounds from the coffee vending machines at work. You don’t let good things come to waste, you just don’t. From experience I can tell you that if you forget to take the bags out of the car for two days the car will smell like a roasting-house for weeks. This might be a bit embarrassing… especially if you forget about it and offer someone a lift. Someone you don’t know very well…

The compost is getting on beautifully though. And in the winter when the way out to the compost often seems to be very long we simply put the coffee grounds in the flowerbed closest to the door. When the snow melts the aroma is set free which may lead to some raised eyebrows from visitors. They can’t exactly put their fingers on it but there is a distinct aroma and it's somewhat familiar… But the plants are thriving, especially the roses. And after all, what are puzzled visitors compared with thriving roses if you just can live with the backflipping earthworms?

P.S. A word of warning: You know you’ve put out to much coffee on the ground when the earthworms start forming little marimba bands and arrange music festivals. How do earthworms play marimba? Loud, very loud!

9 comments:

david santos said...

Great work.
I loved this post and this blog.
Have a nice day.

chey said...

Wonderful post!! I've got lots of coffee grounds in my compost this year. Can't wait to hear the music!

Nancy J. Bond said...

Ditto! I should have a whole Mariachi by summer's end. :)

Garden Gnome said...

maybe I should invite my earthworms in for a cuppa!

patientgardener said...

I dont drink coffee so I hadnt thought of putting coffee grounds on the compost, I hadnt realised they were so beneficial. I think I will ask our caterin manager at work is I had have a bag

Titania said...

I can identify with your humorous
posts, they are great. Also with the clay and the compost! We could have splendid conversations! Well, we are called "a weird mob" so none of my neighbours raises an eyebrow.

STIHL Man said...

Thanks for history lesson and the gardening tip. hehe.. nice post!

Sheila said...

Great post! I unfortunately have switched to one of those little pod coffee makers and I miss my coffee grounds for the garden. I will have to remember to stop by Starbucks for their free used grounds!

GardenJoy4Me said...

You have initiated the "saving of the grounds" again for me : )
I used to for so many years .. then gave up on it .. now the earthworm congo line has me in its spell !
Thank you so much for the chuckles
Joy