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  • Create a Portable Composter November 24, 2014
      Now that fall is winding down, you might want to begin thinking towards next year by taking on this project now. Do you do home composting? Have you often wished you had a portable composter? This is a inexpensive project ($20) that can be completed in less than an hour. First you need to […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beaut […]
    Joni James
  • The Monarchs of Venice, California November 22, 2014
    The morning sun rose over the canals of Venice, California, its soft yellow color reflected in the water, as I stood watching the Monarchs, already up and about.  The pocket park they were visiting was still mostly in shade, so I didn’t expect to see the orange-winged beauties until hours later, when the sun would […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Balance in the Garden: Ichneumon Parasitic Wasp November 21, 2014
    Sometime ago I talked about how some wasps keep a garden in balance by using other arthropods as their larval hosts, laying eggs to hatch and feed off the caterpillars of moths or butterflies or beetle larvae.  It’s Nature’s way of ensuring you don’t get too many of one species.  The food chain in action. […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to se […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Thankful for Nature November 20, 2014
    As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, my list of things to do grows. My mental list of what I am thankful for is in progress as well, and always at the top of that list are the gifts that the natural world has given us. From tiny pollinators to towering oaks, our world would […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Saying Goodbye to All the Plants in My Front Garden November 19, 2014
    Well, it’s digging day. A day I’ve known was coming since we bought our house 14 years ago. Seems that over 100 years ago when my house was built it was considered a good idea to use clay pipes to carry away the sewage from the houses in this neighborhood. Think about it. You know […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photo […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Teaching native habitats with trout November 17, 2014
    It might seem fishy to set up a 55-gallon fish tank and say you’re going to use to it to teach outdoor education, but so far raising brook trout has been one of the most exciting and engaging projects we’ve taken on at the elementary school where I work. In the local school system, animal […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautif […]
    Stacey Evers
  • Aphids are Good? Wait….WHAT??? November 14, 2014
    Down at my pond recently, I waited patiently for a flower fly to land for a photo op.  I use a point and shoot camera and have yet to find that the sports setting is effective at getting close-up photos of insects so I don’t use it.  I took a random shot or two while […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us k […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Winter Citizen Science Projects November 12, 2014
    Winter is a fabulous time to participate in a wide variety of citizen science projects to help biologists and scientists gather data for conservation planning and further our knowledge of ecosystem health and population abundance of different types of wildlife. I’m working on building a comprehensive list so I’m going to ask for your help […] We love hearing […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • A Heron By Any Other Name Would Be Easier To Identify November 7, 2014
    This is a fun time of year in Florida.  The birds are returning from their summer digs so I get a wide array of visitors.  I glanced out at the pond the other day and eyed a thin white head poking up through the cover of native grasses.  There standing on the tussock in the […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and l […]
    Loret T. Setters

#GardenChat

Garden Grounds

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea;

but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.

~Abraham Lincoln

Many gardeners wake to greet each day with a hot cup of coffee. If you are among those numbers, good news! You can enjoy your coffee twice by tucking away the grounds for use in the garden or your indoor plant containers. If you’re not a coffee drinker, a trip to the local coffee shop can yield free grounds that would otherwise be tossed out. A trip with hubby to the coffee shop yesterday for free “garden grounds” resulted in a large bag full.

Dried coffee grounds serve several purposes in the garden. Used as a mulch they:

  • Limit slug and snail damage on prone plants such as hosta and lilies.
  • Deter cats from digging in garden beds.
  • Are a source of slow-release nitrogen which results in larger, healthier growth in vegetables and plants. Tomatoes especially appreciate the extra boost from a mulch of used grounds.

Remember, spread the mulch no deeper than 1″ and refrain from adding more until the first have completely decomposed.

Other uses for the dried grounds:

  • Coffee grounds can also be worked into beds and pots before planting as a nutrient rich soil conditioner. Use one cup per garden bed and one tablespoon per average size pot.
  • Dried grounds can be added to acidify soil around acid-loving trees, shrubs and plants like evergreens, azalea, hydrangea, blueberry, lupine, butterfly weed, etc.
  • Dried grounds mixed with carrot and radish seeds results in higher yields and less damage from pests.
  • Use in vermi-composting.
  • Dilute 1/2 pound of grounds in a 5-gallon pail of water for a gentle and fast-acting liquid fertilizer.
  • The ideal use for grounds is in the compost pile.

It’s important to note that coffee grounds are a “green” (nitrogen-rich) additive to your garden soil and compost. To maintain a healthy soil balance, additions of “brown” (carbon) material such as dried leaves or straw is also necessary. The general rule of thumb for healthy composting/soil building is one part “green” to three parts “brown”. Thus, adding one pound of coffee grounds to the compost pile or soil should be balanced by adding three pounds of dried leaves, straw etc. (See here for more.) As with any soil amendment, moderation and observation yields the best results. Happy gardening!

4 comments to Garden Grounds

  • Happiness is a coffee smelling garden… yum…

    Thanks for the reminder about compost additions… I think I’m entirely too ‘green’ in mine…

  • Lisa Gustavson

    The carbon additions to the compost pile are always lacking for us as well. We have plenty of materials when we remember to use them!

  • My grandmother always used to toss out old coffee grinds into the bushes off her back porch and i must say her rhododendrons looked great.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    I’m tempted to try growing rhododendrons again knowing that. I just can’t keep them alive…Maybe one more try! :-) Thank you!

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