Grounds for gardening success

The best use for coffee grounds is as an addition to the compost pile.

coffee-grounds-blogThe “Grounds for your Garden” program started by Starbucks in 1999 is a terrific example of win-win-win-win in business.

By giving away tons of used coffee grounds, the company has been able to recycle a product it would normally throw away, frugal gardeners get a free soil amendment, compost piles get a good source of nitrogen and birds, bees, butterflies and other insects are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Used coffee grounds are a good soil amendment but, contrary to popular belief grounds don’t make a good fertilizer when used alone. The best use of used coffee grounds is to add them to the compost bin as another source of “green.”

The researchers at the Oregon State University Extension Service say when coffee grounds are used as a soil amendment “keep them damp and add some nitrogen fertilizer when you do this.” Apparently the grounds feed microbes in the soil, which depletes nitrogen and needs to be replaced.

The experts also say, if grounds are used on the soil surface, cover them with leaves or bark mulch.

Another tip when using coffee grounds is to side-dress plants with no more than 1″ of grounds at a time and to wait until the grounds decompose before adding more.

Starbucks provides information on how to use the grounds in the garden, such as applying the grounds “directly as a top dressing to acid-loving plants like blueberries, hydrangeas, and azaleas.”

A good way to recycle at home is to save your coffee grounds from home-brewed coffee and add them, paper filter and all, to the compost pile.

Do you have other ideas for using grounds in the garden? Please share them here.


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