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  • In the Garden: Cloudy with a Chance of Confusion August 29, 2014
    I met a new butterfly this week.  This particular butterfly is one of the skippers. Skippers are in the Superfamily Hesperioidea, as opposed to say, Swallowtails or Milkweed Butterflies that are in the Papilionoidea Superfamily encompassing Butterflies (excluding skippers). Skippers are a diverse bunch and often hard to identify. This skipper was rather larg […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Plants Beyond the Garden August 28, 2014
    I love having native plants in my garden. Every moment that I can do so finds me slipping into the garden to find a beautiful flower, a hummingbird sipping on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), an insect collecting food or collecting prey, and to listen to the sweet song of birds. As much as I love […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • When a Tree Falls in the Schoolyard August 25, 2014
    We had only one shade tree at our suburban DC elementary school, a 50ish-year-old pin oak, and it was cut down over the summer without notice. After the shock and swearing wore off, I started thinking about how we could use what remained. Almost anything can be turned into a lesson, including a prominently placed […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Stacey Evers
  • The Worms Crawl In but Do They Swim? August 22, 2014
    This week I noticed that there was some webbing on a Baldcypress tree I planted a while back. At some point my property was likely home to many of these trees as is evident by decaying knees I see when the pond level gets low.  These majestic trees require wet conditions during part of the year […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Shrubs for Small Gardens August 19, 2014
    For those with small wildlife gardens, gardening with native plants has always been a challenge. Natives tend to be not just large size but absolutely huge. Fortunately the nursery industry is responding to the growing demand for wildlife friendly native plants for the small space garden. Plant breeders have come out with some outstanding dwarf […] We love h […]
    Karyl Seppala
  • Wildlife Deception as a Defense August 15, 2014
    Tanner, the English Setter was headed out for his afternoon stroll of the yard.  I saw something over behind a tall cluster of Bidens alba and it seemed to be thrashing.  Tanner zoomed on over and flushed out a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  The hawk flew off with its feathers somewhat ruffled in the quick getaway. Tanner […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Baldcypress Ecosystem August 13, 2014
    Birding in Delaware at Trap Pond State Park, a baldcypress ecosystem. After a wonderful trip aboard the Mummichog II for the Cape Water Taxi Ecotour to explore the ecosystem of the Indian River Bay in southeastern Delaware, today we headed to southwestern Delaware to explore a fresh water ecosystem. Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Cardinal Flower August 12, 2014
      Hummingbirds love it. So do I. If it was a Corvette Stingray, the color would be called “Victory Red.” It is a blazing, brilliant, red, not often seen in a native plant. In the picture above, you see a sweat bee, using a leaf as a resting spot on the Cardinal Flower’s, Lobelia cardinalis, landing […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Raising Question Mark butterflies August 11, 2014
    Question Mark butterflies can be elusive if you don’t know how to attract them to your beautiful wildlife garden. They are drawn more to sap runs (often created by woodpeckers) and rotting fruit than the flowers in your yard. If you have a plum or cherry tree you may see these and other butterflies feeding […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Judy Burris

#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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