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Grounds for the Garden

Coffee "fuels" you and the grounds can help "fuel" your garden. In your compost, coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen. When added to the soil, the grounds may also help improve the structure. Coffee grounds are considered "green" in composting jargon, meaning that the grounds are rich in nitrogen (coffee grounds are approximately 1.45% nitrogen). Grounds also contain magnesium, calcium, potassium and other trace minerals.  The carbon to nitrogen ratio of coffee grounds is similar to that of grass clippings. 

There are claims by gardeners that coffee grounds repel slugs and snails (due to the abrasiveness) and may discourage the use of your garden as a litter box.  If you compost using worms (vermicompost), worms love the grounds...and we know how much gardeners love worms in the garden.

Tips for "caffeinating" your garden with grounds:

  • The grounds need to be added to a compost bin or incorporated into the soil (do not layer the grounds on top of the soil as the grounds may actually repel water).
  • When incorporating the grounds into the soil, it is important to also use a nitrogen fertilizer. While the microorganisms in the soil work on breaking down the grounds (which depletes nitrogen), the fertizler will help feed your plants.
  • In the compost bin is where the nitrogen content of the grounds can be fully realized and used, a suggested ratio is 1/3 leaves: 1/3 grass clippings: 1/3 coffee grounds. 
  • Tea for the garden - make coffee ground "tea" by adding two cups of used coffee grounds to a five-gallon bucket of water. Let the "tea" steep for a few hours or overnight. Use this concoction as a liquid fertilizer
  • If you use paper filters, no need to empty the grounds from the filter.  The filter can also be added into the compost pile providing a great source of carbon, an essential ingredient for good compost.

Worried about the acidity?  No need.  Unless you are adding commerical amounts to the soil, the grounds will no change the pH level of your soil.  In the compost bin, the microbes that do the composting actually turn the coffee from an acidic to neutral pH.  There is also the "argument" that coffee grounds have more of a neutral pH due to the acid in coffee being water-soluble - basically, the acid is "washed out" of the grounds during the brewing process.  

Do you have any tips on using grounds in the garden?

Reader Comments (2)

This is another good news that will be benefit of coffee. Aside from being a good source of antioxidants, this can be a good ground for garden. Well, this is a good news for coffee farmer.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

Aloha - thanks for visiting the website. It is great to know that there is such a wonderful use for the grounds.

October 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterEnergy Dude

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