Coffee grounds will reputedly help with vegetable yields but some research contests this; gardeners should do their own experiments.
I confess when I joined Reko Hilton nearly a year ago I was initially miffed. I believe I’m justly proud of our green home but I found myself surrounded by market gardeners who simply did it even better. Each has his or her own little secrets that have brought them success.
Most are happy to share the joys that emerge from their organic gardens; I found myself on a big learning curve. The free range chickens were more tender than mine, though the egg-yolks not as yellow, the cauli heads were three times the size of mine and I’ve never managed to grow garlic successfully.
Coffee grounds turned out to be one of those little secrets. I have never seen veggies like that before. So I started tossing our own on the potatoes plants, together with ash from the woodstove.
I should have asked for more information; my guru says it’s quite acidic and she rather puts the coffee grounds on the compost heap. The wood-ash has an alkaline nature, balancing the pH.
So we watch with interest; certainly these are the most beautiful potato plants I have ever grown but the proof of the pudding is in the eating obviously, not in how stunning the haulm looks. The flowers are over and last evening we went mining for the first spud; like all veggies, straight from the ground to the pot it was simply marvellous and surprisingly large.
Potatoes get a lot of flak in our obese world; from cold-storage they are certainly fattening. It is interesting though that new spuds have about half the digestible starch. Even many diabetics can enjoy them provided they keep what is known as the glycemic load down; don’t eat too much.
There's another good reason to grow your own potatoes, by the way. Farmers use a very toxic herbicide called Paraquat to kill off the haulm just before harvesting; it is one of the causes of Parkinson's Disease.
It’s our starchy season; the mealies are thriving and always we wonder if we will be enjoying them by Christmas. That happens only occasionally and certainly not this year; it has been a very cold spring and all the veggies are behind.
And the honey has been pouring in. You would think we are enormous with all the carbs we eat; sourdough bread baked every day, new potatoes and mealiemeal porridge. Corn on the cob, fresh peas and various green beans are favourites too but, no we've not put on an ounce.
Interesting new research published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains why. Says the lead author, Prof David Ludwig from Harvard Medical School, it is modern refined glycemic foods that disturb the two hormones produced by the pancreas that set us up for obesity and diabetes, rather than whole carbs.
Refined foods tend to be tasteless so heaped spoonfuls of sugar and salt are usually added too. He and his international team of researchers are calling it the “carbohydrate-insulin model.”
Other research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found astonishingly that unprocessed honey from local beekeepers in Germany had a low glycemic index below 55; but once commercial bottlers got hold of it the GI becomes very high.
One exception was “forest honey” which has a little-known highly glycemic sugar.
There’s still time to plant more climbing beans; this week it is Witsa, limas and Scarlet Runners. And I am going to try a few favas, but they do best in autumn and winter.
Wholesome fresh vegetables from your own garden take a lot of beating both for flavour and good nutrition but it’s a canny business; try some coffee grounds. When folk start to talk about hunger in the world you will be able to chip in.
Collecting coffee grounds, growing beans and planting your own potatoes may seem very time-consuming; hard work too.
Personally I'd prefer spending the time growing our own food and getting exercise in the garden than consulting doctors and pumping iron at the gym. We live and die by the choices we make.
"There is increasing evidence that exposure to plants and green space, and particularly to gardening, is beneficial to mental and physical health."
- Clinical Medicine (PMC6334070)
Coffee grounds are slightly acidic but high in nitrogen.
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