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Ingenious Ways of Using Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Posted by Melisa on

Nothing beats waking up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning and if you love coffee as much as the rest of us do, you probably have packs of used coffee grounds lying around just waiting to be thrown in the trash. Gardeners know that coffee grounds can be used in many ways so don’t throw the coffee grounds just yet. Coffee grounds have so many uses in the garden! In today’s guide, we are listing down ingenious ways of using coffee grounds in and around the garden:

Coffee Grounds as Mulch Material

Covering certain areas of the garden with mulch helps retain soil moisture, protect delicate root systems, and insulate the plants. Coffee grounds happen to be an excellent mulching material so if you have packs of used coffee grounds then go ahead and use these as mulching material. Some gardeners are wary of using coffee grounds as mulching material because coffee is naturally acidic.

However, pH tests show that coffee grounds are only mildly acidic to mildly alkaline, which makes these ideal for growing a variety of fruits and vegetables that love slightly acidic soils. It’s also worth noting that coffee grounds lose their acidity as they break down into the soil. If you are still worried, try layering coffee grounds over a thick blanket of mulch.

Some growers say that the caffeine in coffee grounds could suppress plant growth and while some plants are sensitive to caffeine, this claim remains debatable. Our advice is to simply avoid spreading the coffee ground mulch around seedlings. We also recommend mixing coffee ground with organic matter, particularly compost or leaf mold before using it as mulch so water and air could penetrate the mulch easily.

Coffee Grounds as Natural Fertilizer

Coffee grounds are teeming with nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other nutrients that promote proper plant growth. Even better, coffee grounds tend to release these nutrients into the soil slowly, preventing plant burning and shock.

When used as a natural fertilizer, coffee grounds can be applied in several ways. You can simply sprinkle the coffee grounds directly into the garden soil. You can also mix the coffee grounds into your compost heap to boost the compost’s nitrogen content. It’s worth noting that coffee grounds are best mixed with dry materials to get them to give up their nitrogen content. Also, keep your compost pit’s nutrient profile balanced by adding enough brown materials into the compost such as dried leaves, wood chips, or newspaper.

Finally, you can also steep the coffee ground in water (2 cups to a 5-gallon bucket of water) overnight to make your own liquid fertilizer. Spritz the coffee-based liquid fertilizer directly onto the plant leaves and stems to keep nibbling critters from feasting on your plants.

Coffee Grounds as Compost Material

If you have backyard compost, you could mix your discarded coffee grounds to enrich your compost pile. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen so these could be used to balance the nutrients in the compost. Just mix the coffee grounds with equal amounts of green and brown compost materials. If you don't, the compost pile won't break down properly and it might even develop a foul odor.

Manure, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps are green compost materials that are high in nitrogen. Brown compost materials like wood chips, sawdust, and hay are loaded with carbon. Keep the brown and green ratio at 4:1 to ensure that the nutrients in your compost pile remains balanced.

Coffee Grounds for Pest Control

Is your garden plagued by snails and slugs? These slow-moving mollusks would nibble at tender leaves, leaving your plants and seedlings sickly and vulnerable to the elements. You can use coffee grounds to keep these pests away. Snails and slugs have soft bodies so they hate crawling on abrasive surfaces. Sprinkling coffee grounds around plants may keep these nibbling pests away because the coffee grounds add texture to the ground. The caffeine in coffee grounds may also repel slugs and snails.

Coffee grounds could also discourage rabbits and cats from wreaking havoc in the garden. Cats and rabbits dislike the perky fragrance of coffee that we love!

Some experts say this technique isn’t as effective and if it doesn't work for you, have a backup plan prepared. If you’re using coffee grounds for pest control, use the coffee grounds in moderation to keep the nutrients in the soil well-balanced.

Coffee Grounds for Healthy Crops

Some crops thrive in naturally acidic soils; others do better in alkaline soil. Flowering plants such as hydrangeas, roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, and lily of the valley, for instance, produce more flowers in slightly acidic soils. The same thing is true for crops like blueberries, carrots, and radishes.

If you want to give your yield a boost, mix a little scoop of coffee grounds into the soil. The coffee grounds will enhance the acidity of the soil. Same thing if your soil is slightly alkaline and you’d like to make your soil slightly acidic, use fresh coffee grounds. As an added bonus, a sprinkling of coffee grounds in the garden will suppress weed growth!

Coffee Grounds as Worm Food

Earthworms are beneficial to the garden because they aerate the soil as they move below the ground. The castings that these critters excrete also enrich the soil, adding important nutrients that the plants need for healthy growth. You can encourage earthworms to make your garden their home by mixing coffee grounds into the soil.

Since coffee grounds are organic matter, they will attract all sorts of beneficial garden critters, including earthworms. Earthworms happen to love coffee grounds! If you keep a worm bin, just add a cup of coffee ground in the bin each week. Do not add more because the growing environment might turn acidic, which may harm the earthworms. Using coffee grounds as plant fertilizers will also encourage worms to make their way to your garden!

Some Factors to Consider Before Using Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Although coffee grounds can be used in many ways to boost plant health, always keep an eye on the amount of coffee grounds that you use. Large doses of caffeine may harm pets, particularly cats and dogs. If you keep several pets in the garden, it’s best to use the coffee grounds as compost material rather than organic fertilizer.

Some crops produce more fruits with a little dose of caffeine but tomatoes hate coffee grounds so keep them away if you have a lot of tomato plants.

As you can see, fresh coffee grounds have many uses in the garden. Most cafes often give packs of used coffee grounds away so you can score sacks of it at no cost to you. If you always drink freshly brewed coffee in the mornings, save the coffee grounds for later!


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