Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hugs, Not Drugs.

I mentioned in the last post that the plant really started doing well when I took it home. My house has a lovely bank of windows with southern exposure. That and more water sprung the plant to life, so to speak. I stopped with chemical fertilizers then too. A few months later I finally got around to re-potting it. I bought some much larger pot, at least 4 times the size. I got some organic potting soil mixed with sand, and organic blood meal. I mixed the blood meal in at around 5%. After carefully moving the plant to the bigger pot, I sprinkled the Holy Tone fertilizer lightly around the plant, covered it with decorative rocks, and gave it a good soaking. Now based on reading the ingredients of the Holy Tone, I am pretty sure it qualifies as organic, but would welcome insight from anyone who knows.

Before long the plant started growing faster than ever. It the months since it has at least doubled in size. The new leaves sprout two at a time. They used to grow to maturity before two more would come. Now the next two often come just a couple days after their predecessors.

When I first re-potted it I was watering it heavily. I was nervous that if I didn't it would suffer from the change of pot. Recently I have cut the water back dramatically. From well over a gallon a week, to less than a quart. I did that because I learned in Costa Rica this year more about the flowering cycle. With a specific wet and dry season, the flowers come shortly after the heavy rains begin. I have been watching my plant closely since cutting the water back so much, and it seems to be just fine. Also, the leaves it grows now are much bigger than ever before, many of them as big as my hand.

So that's where it stands. On a whim last night I emailed Dr. Mike Maunder, the Director of the famous Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami. I ask him for help getting my plant to produce, and really didn't expect to hear back. I was very pleased to get a response from him first thing this morning. He has referred me to their horticultural expert for assistance. I very much look forward to hearing from her, and will update you all when I do!

Monday, August 29, 2005


Welcome to my Quest for Coffee. It started about four years ago when a friend from church gave me a small coffee plant. It floundered for a couple of years in my kitchen. I was never really sure how to care for it, but somehow managed to keep it alive. I would occasionally look online or in a coffee book for some hints to its care. I never found much that was helpful. I almost killed it by accident once. After a major ice storm and power outage, I left it in my house overnight. It got down to 45 degrees, and really crippled the plant. I really thought it was a goner. Somehow it survived.

A year or so later I moved it to the window sill in my office at work. The light was pretty good, and I noticed it more so it got more water. Funny thing....It started to grow. I would occasionally joke with co-workers that one day we would all enjoy a cup of coffee from it. I never really thought that would happen, but I am a hopeful person, so somewhere in the back of my mind I thought........maybe. I admit that I would occasionally fertilize it with Miracle Grow or some other conventional stuff. After Counter Culture Coffee (the roaster I work for) got certified organic I did start to feel a little guilty about it. We were once visited by a coffee farmer friend of ours who asked if it was organic. She was in the process of taking her farm organic, which takes three years. That was it....If she could do it with thousands of coffee plants, by God, I could do it with one. About the same time I decided to take the plant home to re-pot. What has happened to the plant in the year since I brought it home and went organic has simply astonished me. It has changed and grown so much that I am now CONVINCED that one day it will produce.

So I have decided to share this little coffee journey with any coffee freak or geek who may care. I am going to explain the process by which my plant has started to flourish, and I hope anyone who has insights will share them with me. I really believe that one day I will be able to harvest my little crop, process and roast the spoils, and enjoy a spot of coffee with some friends. Coffee is my job, as well as a way of life for me and millions of others. Join me if you will on this, my