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  • Killer on the Loose September 19, 2014
    Tis the time of year when huge “bees” are flying all over the yard.  They aren’t actually bees, but bumblebee mimics and they prey on the very insects they resemble.  Meet a Robberfly (Mallophora bomboides), a member of the insect order Diptera.  This particular species is commonly called “Florida Bee Killer” due to their preferred […] We love hearing from y […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Lights, Camera, Action: Hollywood’s Fan Palms September 18, 2014
    Sprinklers let loose— Water is softly spraying a neighbor’s yard, and it sounds nice, even though it is only a plain green lawn that’s benefiting.  Well, not just a lawn— Out the window I see both a tall California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) and a more robust Phoenix Palm (Phoenix Cunninghamiana) standing together in the […] We love hearing from you! P […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • When the Gall Moves, it Probably isn’t a Gall September 12, 2014
    I was walking past the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) tree, one of two saplings I have planted on the southwest side of the pond. Bald-cypress are known for getting species-specific insects known as Cypress Twig Gall Midge (Taxodiomyia cupressiananassa). The smaller of my two trees has a few sprinkled throughout. Galls are housing created from […] We love […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Gardening for Wildlife at the Flower Farm September 11, 2014
    On September 28th last year (2012), my husband and I closed on our first home, a 1.5 acre property that backs out to a nature preserve and is surrounded by woods on all four sides. I wrote about our gardening efforts last year in an article I called “Wildlife Gardening in Rivendell,” because the property […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit September 9, 2014
    Anticipation Anticipation makes my world go ’round. I find something, perhaps a plant, just beginning to emerge in the spring. I return to the infant plant often. Watching and waiting. Looking forward to its grand finale. This is the story of anticipation from beginning to disappointing end, of a Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum. The photograph above, […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Little Lacewing Life Cycle September 8, 2014
    Lacewings are delicate insects that are considered to be beneficial to your garden.  I’ve observed them in my beautiful wildlife garden during the day and at night.  To the casual observer they appear to be clumsy fliers, but that may serve as a survival technique.  From what I’ve read, they have sensory organs at the […] We love hearing from you! Please cli […]
    Judy Burris
  • Cream of the Gardening Crop: Skimmers September 5, 2014
    I’ve a new dragonfly at my place.  I was excited when I saw the overall purple hue of this beauty.  I knew it was one I had never seen before and at first I struggled to identify it. Anyone can make up a  checklist of Dragonflies and Damselflies (order: Odonata) based on their location.  I […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beauti […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Vampires in the Canyon September 4, 2014
    Is there a vampire in the Canyon?  If you were hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains this month, you would most certainly run across patches of strange-looking, yellowish vine-like plants. What is this plant that is laid out across the chaparral bushes as if it were strangling them? Is it really hurting the bushes on […] We love hearing from you! Please […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Duckweed For Wildlife September 3, 2014
    Duckweed is the smallest flowering plant in the US If you have a wildlife pond, I’m sure you’re familiar with Duckweed (Lemna minor) as it can quickly cover the surface of your pond. Duckweed is commonly found in ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow moving streams. In streams where the water moves more quickly, the Duckweed is […] We love hearing from you! Please […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown

#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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