This past weekend, on a whim, with my daughter in tow, I gave my percolator a rest and trekked to my local Starbucks for one of their high-calorie frozen coffee delights. As I was waiting for my drink I noticed a sign, “Grounds for your Garden”… free grounds for your garden. My mind was racing… “Really?”, “Wow, this is pretty neat!”… “Okay, what are you waiting for, ask for some grounds!”
I finally worked up the courage to ask the kind lady behind the counter if she had any grounds. Low and behold they had one bag left! A big ole’ 5 pound bag of coffee grounds.
As I drove home, inhaling the intense aroma of coffee, I thought about the grounds sitting in the seat next to me. What do I do now? I’ve heard they’re good for your garden and for your compost, but how much? Where? What plants? Again, I deferred to my husband and his never ending wealth of knowledge. (Ugh, it pains me just to write those words.)
Here is what I found out from him (and from MY OWN research):
- Coffee grounds can provide a valuable source of nutrition for your garden if used properly. It is high in nitrogen, but is also acidic. Nitrogen is also very valuable for the fast-growth of vegetables
- Coffee grounds make the soil easier to till, thus it is easy to put nutrients and also easy for the plants to absorb them.
- Coffee grounds can be applied directly in the garden along with other materials as a side dressing for vegetables, roses, and other plants. Using coffee grounds for plants and garden soil eliminates the risk of increase of pathogens entering the soil. They help kill diseases living in the seeds and roots of the plants, keeping them healthy for growth.
- They make an excellent addition to your compost. Coffee helps maintain the balance of nitrogen which is helpful in decomposition of organic materials.
- Worms fed with coffee grounds combined with other materials will flourish. They are attracted to them. So as they feed and move into the soil, they help spread the nutrients and fertilize the plants. They also aerate the soil, inviting more oxygen for the roots.
- It is economically friendly and minimizes the use of chemically based fertilizers. It is also environmentally friendly since you help the trash going into landfills where they are only left to rot and put to waste.
- The caffeine and acid present in coffee grounds are known to be fatal on slugs and snails that infest the plants. Spreading or spraying coffee on the soil around the plants would prevent slugs and snails from attacking them.
- Coffee grounds are free
- They keep moisture
- They are easy to store
- They smell good compared to other natural and organic garden compost/fertilizer
There are a bunch of conflicting stories out about the benefits of coffee grounds. You’ll find pros and cons, friends and foes. Until I can absorb all the information out there between books, blogs, my husband, and the interweb, I’ll tread lightly on how many bags of grounds I use. But I’m still going to enjoy my cup of Joe everyday!