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#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┬áis 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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