Coffee, Camellia Oil, “The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart

Caffeinated Gardening 

When you see the gigantic bags of coffee grounds at your local coffee shop, gleaned from a day’s worth of drip and grind, grab one! Coffee grounds are a terrific soil additive and best used in compost as a valuable source of nitrogen.

You can also…

Ring your plants with straight grounds scratch into the soil to add nitrogen.

Leave grounds on top as a mulch.  Only put on about an inch thick. Any thicker and they keep water from penetrating the soil.

Add grounds to your worm bin. Worms love coffee! Wormcastings are caviar for plants.

Make a small wall of grounds in slug prone areas. Coffee grounds are both abrasive and acidic and help deter slugs.

Push those Boundaries!

You might have noticed…our climate is really changing. The year 2012 was the warmest in recorded history. Even USDA gardening zones are changing. Many areas of the country have gone up an entire number. What used to be a zone 7 in our area is now 8 or 8B. Many of the plants that used to be borderline hardy are now well within our ability to grow. So, if you have an old gardening book with old zones, go up a zone and see what else you can grow! Oh, boy! More plants!!!!

If you have an older Sunset Western Garden Book, you might want to buy a newer edition. Sunset has always had its own zone system but even those zones have changed.

Camellia Oil

Camellias have more going for them than just a pretty face. Camellia Tea Oil (not to be confused with Tea Tree Oil) has been used for hundreds of years by Japanese craftsmen for protecting chisels and woodworking tools. They kept an Aburatsubo Tool Oiler, a bamboo pot with camellia oil soaked cotton, nearby.  They dipped their tools in the pot to keep them rust free and in top working condition. Gardeners have discovered that this practice also protects and prevents rust on garden tools. You can get tool grade camellia oil from

“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart

If you’re familiar with the works of Amy Stewart, author of “Wicked Plants” and “Wicked Bugs”, you’ll be glad to know she has written another one of her funny, information-dense garden books. Or is it a history book? Recipe book?  Reference book?

“The Drunken Botanist” is another Amy Stewart original. This time she takes on the liquor cabinet with a botanist’s eye. She points out the plant-based properties of common and not so common elixirs.  As always, Amy Stewart does it with a twist. Each plant description comes loaded with fascinating history, biology and chemistry about the flowers (violets, nasturtiums, honeysuckle), fruit (rhubarb, plantains, figs) and fungi that help  fill the bottles at the bar.

Open up any of the 389 pages and you’ll find plenty of reasons to want more from the book and from Amy Stewart. As if all this isn’t enough, Amy gives you recipes for 50 drinks…just in case you want to do a little personal research.