Okay, I’m back. Let’s get back to business and back to the Family Eco-Challenge. The other day the girls and I were standing in line at Starbucks, when we noticed a bin filled with silver bags and a sign offering these bags of used coffee grounds…for free. Always in search of a “good deal” we grabbed a bag and brought it back to our garden. Yep, coffee grounds in the garden.
How to Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden
I grew up with a mom who loved to garden and who loved coffee. Every once in awhile I would see my mom pouring coffee grounds into the garden. I really should have asked her about that…but I didn’t. So, now as a “gardener in the making” I decided to do a little research into this coffee ground phenomenon. It turns out that used coffee grounds are actually very helpful in the garden.
Nitrogen Rich Fertilizer: Plants use nitrogen to produce a protein they need to grow. Plants absorb nitrogen in the soil, through their roots. Most store-bought garden fertilizers are nitrogen rich. It turns out that used coffee grounds have a helpful level of nitrogen as well, approximately 2%. So, how can we put this to good use? It is beneficial to add used coffee ground to a compost pile. If you don’t have a backyard compost pile, then add the grounds directly to the soil in your garden. Yep, work the grounds into the soil around plants like tomatoes, roses, azaleas, blueberries, leafy greens and carrots. We tilled the coffee grounds into our vegetable garden, around our tomatoes, cucumbers and basil plant.
Natural Pest Repellant: Add coffee grounds to the garden edge and keep ants, snails and slugs out of the garden. Apparently, slugs, snails and ants are not fond of coffee. We piled a ring of coffee grounds around our slug-susceptible hostas. An added bonus, cats don’t like coffee either…keeps the garden free from becoming a kitty litter for feral cats.
Make a Liquid Fertilizer: Who’s to say you can’t steep old coffee grounds? Place approximately 2 cups of coffee grounds (and old tea bags) into a bucket of water (5 gallons) and let it steep overnight. Fill a spray bottle with the coffee mixture and fertilize garden plants.
When we had used all of our Starbucks coffee grounds I knew we needed to start collecting our own coffee grounds. This week’s Family Eco-Challenge is to start collecting our own used coffee grounds and use them in our gardens. Coffee grounds are most effective when they are used 2-3 weeks after they are brewed. I have placed a ceramic dish beside the sink (opposite our water collection pitcher) where we will be collecting our grounds. I am really excited to start diverting our coffee grounds from the garbage and into our garden. In our house, my husband is the only coffee drinker…so we will be collecting used tea leaves as well. I have realized that we might produce too many coffee grounds to use in our own garden, so we will be sharing with anyone who needs grounds AND we will be looking for other ways to use coffee grounds around the house…more to come.