coffee grounds in the garden


Did you know that after your coffee fuels you, the grounds could go on to fuel new growth in your garden?

Using coffee grounds in the garden is an eco-friendly way to divert organic waste away from the trash bin and into the compost pile. Coffee grounds are an outstanding source of nitrogen for composting, and they improve the structure of your soil. Gardeners also claim coffee grounds repel slugs, snails and kittens.

{Before the picture of a garden with a serious kitten infestation takes hold in your head the way it did in mine, apparently they mean it discourages cats from using the garden as an outdoor kitty box.}

Worms, on the other hand, apparently love coffee grounds—and gardeners love worms! Coffee grounds are on the approved list of foods for vermicomposting (the process of producing compost with worms).


Coffee Grounds in the Garden: A Few Tips

To aid you in your caffeine-assisted gardening efforts, here are some tips for utilizing coffee grounds for plants, via the agricultural experts at Oregon State University:

  • Coffee grounds that are left to dry on the surface of the soil can repel water, which isn’t good for your plants. Either add the grounds to your compost pile or incorporate them into your soil.
  • If you go the route of incorporating the grounds into the soil, add a nitrogen fertilizer. The fertilizer will help feed your plants while the microorganisms in the soil break down the grounds. Without the fertilizer, that increased microbial activity will deplete the soil nitrogen available to your plants.
  • Compost piles are all about achieving the right mix of materials. These experts suggest a ratio of 1/3 leaves, 1/3 fresh grass clippings and 1/3 coffee grounds.
  • If you use paper filters, they can also be added into the compost pile! They are a great source of carbon, an essential ingredient for good compost.

coffee grounds in the garden

Worried About the pH?

There is some debate about the acidity of coffee grounds in the garden. The consensus opinion is that acidity is not something to be overly concerned with, but the reasons for that vary depending on who you consult. The advice from Oregon State University is that the acid in coffee is water soluble, and the brewing process leaches most of the acid out of the grounds.

On the other hand—Anna Hackman, editor of the eco-blog Green Talk, did some extensive background research and found conflicting information on the topic. To settle the debate she contacted Dr. Paul Hepperly, research director of the Rodale Institute. His expert opinion is that the acidity neutralizes as the grounds decompose in the soil. Dr. Hepperly does recommend adding no more than an inch of grounds at a time, and waiting until those grounds have decomposed before adding additional amounts.

So spread those coffee grounds in the garden, but do it conservatively. For more ideas on reusing your spent grounds, check out this post at DIY Life.

If you have any coffee ground tips, kitten related or otherwise, share them with us in the comments section below! Either way, it definitely doesn’t hurt to use coffee grounds in the garden!

Main photo: hyper7pro

Content photo: net_efekt