I was at the point of asking the landlord whether I could use the cold frame as a strawberry bed next year, because the squash I’ve been growing there have done so poorly. Last year they just upped and died, and this year they went backwards after I’d planted them out and the slugs treated them as some sort of all-you-can-eat salad bar. I had one plant left from my original set of seedlings and it wasn’t looking too clever but it wasn’t quite dead so I bunged it in the cold frame anyway and decided to hope for the best.
Oh, and feed it coffee. We generate a lot of coffee grounds in the town mouse household and I’d read that they were good for the garden – anti slug, pro worm, full of nitrogen and generally all-round hot stuff. Some went on to my tomato plant – which has rewarded me with actually looking like it might produce some tomatoes this year – and the rest got spread around the ragged survivors of the squash slug massacre. I kept this up for a few weeks and it didn’t seem to do anything particularly miraculous so after a while I went back to putting the coffee in the compost as it was easier to deal with. And then the summer went a bit warm and wet and then – miraculously – dry and sunny and I got distracted with keeping up with the beans and the salad and the potatoes and there wasn’t much reason to spend much time looking at the cold frame except to note that the not-dead-yet squash plant was still not dead and in fact looking a little less sickly.
And then yesterday I decided to have a proper look and holy buckets, that squash plant has been growing and growing and growing. And not only that, it’s been fruiting too. In fact, that one there might actually be ready, if you believe the internet. Could it be that I’ll actually finally get some squash to eat out of this garden?
I don’t know whether it truly was the coffee grounds, or just the weather and good luck, that made the difference. But I think I’ll be saving the stuff from the cafetiere for my plants again next year. Unless, of course, we finally get to taste the stuff and discover that we’ve inadvertently invented the ‘squashaccino’. Because that really would be quite nasty.