Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Coffee Beans and Grounds
Coffee Beans and Grounds

Coffee grounds are one of the kitchen wastes and business, which can be recycled in the garden. So then, the discussion becomes how to use the coffee grounds.  Using coffee grounds in the garden, basically, come down to composting. There several approaches to composting, which can be applied to coffee grounds.

The Value Of Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer

  • The three principal nutrients by which the value of fertilizer is typically measured are; Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Measured by those nutrients, Coffee grounds do have value as a fertilizer when used as compost or applied directly as a soil

The NPK Value of Coffee Grounds

  • Nitrogen (N):28 percent
  • Phosphorus (P):06 percent
  • Potassium (K):6 percent

How Much Coffee Grounds To Use

  • When using coffee grounds as compost or when applied directly as a soil amendment, the volume of coffee grounds should be limit to more than 20 percent of the soil or mix to which it is being added. This rule applies to sheet, trench, and/or postal composting.

Coffee Grounds As Mulch

  • Coffee grounds are generally, fine ground and easily compacted so much so that they can form a barrier not allowing air and water to pass through your mulch. For this reason, coffee grounds are generally not recommended for use as mulch.

Sources of Coffee Grounds

From you Own Kitchen

  • An obvious source of coffee grounds as your own kitchen, Americans tend to drink coffee nearly every day so rather than throwing your coffee grounds in the trash toss minute compost bin and use of her garden fertilizer.

From Your Local Coffee Shop Or Restaurant

  • If you’d like to have more coffee grounds or you’re not getting enough coffee grounds for your purpose from your own kitchen, there are several local opportunities to acquire coffee grounds. In my local area, there are coffee shops like Starbucks or on the grind from which coffee grounds can be readily obtained. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen signs in the local Starbucks saying to ask the barista for coffee grounds for your garden. However, coffee shops may be an obvious choice, but there are any number of restaurants and cities and towns which can be taken advantage of with a little creative negotiation with the owner-operators.

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Recycling and Reuse – A simple example of the value – coffee can

New Coffee Container
New Coffee Container ($20.00)
Reused Coffee Container
Reused Coffee Container (Free)

How to save money through reuse

I think about recycling and reuse from time to time. Especially, when I’m making the morning coffee. We frequently reuse and repurpose useful items, so, here is a quick and simple example of the value of recycling, or in this case reuse, and how easy it can be.

Walking through the store this last week and noticed the new coffee container, and will round the last couple of pennies, for $20. And, it made me think of value and durability my old red coffee can in the kitchen, which has been in use (reused) for more than a decade at a cost of nothing. Originally, purchased for the coffee inside, we kept the can and began filling it with coffee from small bags. We have been using the can so long, that it’s even inherited a dent last year in the lid when something fell on it, but it still works and it doesn’t look that bad.

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Bottle reused as a cupholder

Bottle reused as a cupholder
Bottle reused as a cupholder

Here is a simple and surprising recycle/reuse of a bottle. Recently, I went into the bathroom to discover that my wife had reused a bottle as a couple. These cups have been floating around the counter in the bathroom for literally years.  Well, no need to buy a cupholder.

While her approach is efficient and effective, I’m sure if you have children around this could be the perfect beautification arts and craft project with some string, some glues, and some paints, or any number of other materials.

What To Compost

A large variety of things can be composted. Basically, if a thing can be decomposed (with a few practical exceptions) within a reasonable period of time, then they can be composted.

A Few Guidelines To Help The Process

  • smaller is better: this is true of most things relating to compost. So, chop, shred, and/or tear items into small pieces to expedite debt decomposition and the mixing of the compost heap materials.
  • mixing is good: too much density of any one material will slow the decomposition process, causing stratification, and make the mixing of the compost heap more difficult.
  • know what is done enough: Some consideration should be given to how you intend to use the compost and what is considered done enough for use. Some slowly decomposing items may only need to be aged and/or partially decomposed to be useful in the garden. For example, wood shavings can add value to the humus of the soil or as a pathway materials after only a little aging, if everything else in the compost has completely decomposed.
  • have multiple heaps: having at least two compost heaps and/or bins (even if small) is strongly recommended. So, you may have a heap for current use, while your old heap is finishing.

Compostable Household Items

Here are a few household items which can be composted:

  • office paper (shredded)
  • old newspapers (non-glossy)
  • Wood ash (cooled and out)
  • cardboard (non-glossy or coated)
  • paper towels (including center cardboard tube)
  • paper bags (shredded)
  • egg cartons (made of uncoated paper or cardboard)
  • Eggshells (crushed)
  • kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps
  • teabags and coffee grounds (including paper filters)
  • old houseplants and potting soil (if not diseased)

Compostable Yard And Barn Items

Many yard and barn wastes can be composted. A few, which come to mind are:

  • grass cutting (not treated with herbicide)
  • autumn leaves (best if mixed with other materials, especially, animal manures)
  • old straw and hay (broken up into small sections)
  • livestock manure (chicken, rabbit, cow, horse)
  • sawdust and wood shavings (smaller pieces are better)
  • tree and brush waste (chopped small)
  • old lumber (free of nails and paint; chopped small)

Items to Exclude From The Compost Heap

Certain items need to be excluded from the compost heap to ensure proper compost culture, avoid unwanted orders, avoid attracting unwanted pests and/or to keep the compost from being detrimental to the soil culture.

  • plastic, metal, and/or glass items
  • waste chemicals and paints
  • Cat litter
  • dog waste
  • disposable diapers and wipes
  • glossy magazines
  • glossy newspapers
  • glossy or plastic-coated cardboard boxes
  • meat
  • fish
  • cooking and other oils and greases
  • cook foods containing meat and/or heavy oils

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Composting

What is Composting

I’m sure there are is a formal definition of composting, but to me, compost is really an organized approach to taking advantage of the natural process of decomposition to recycle organic materials and using the product of the process to aide my garden and yard. Composting can be accomplished on a scale as small or as large as may be needed, provided you have the space to do so.

Why Compost

the reason gardeners compost can vary as widely as the character of the gardener and maybe for a combination of reasons. Among the common reasons are;

  • Free dirt.
  • Soil amendment and improvement.
  • Recycling and not wanting to at the local landfill.

How Can Compost be Used

Compost is a  versatile material, which can be applied to your garden and yard. Among the more common uses of compost are:

  • As the soil amendment and fertilizer, where the compost is cultivated into the garden patch and/or bed to improve the soil nutrition and characteristics.
  • As much, we can be used to help retain ground moisture,  control weeds, and more.
  • As planting soil for new plantings in the landscape.
  • As seed starter soil in a greenhouse.

Where to place Your Compost Heap

If you’re going to start a compost pile or bin, please consider carefully where you place the compost heap. Consideration should be given to:

Local Regulations

If you live in a community ( urban or suburban parentheses), your local community may have some rules, regulations, and/or guidelines to which you may need to confirm.

Placement

Placement is important not only for you but for your neighbor, as well. You really don’t want the heap to attract unwanted guests (e.g. snails, slugs, bugs) into or near your home and vegetable garden. Also, even a well-groomed compost Heap may give off some older, which may not be appreciated in the patio, in the garden, or in the children’s play area and swing set. So, please be mindful in advance, it may save you from moving the compost heap later.

Convenience

Easy Access in good weather and bad will make your compost heap easy to use and keep you from collecting unwanted kitchen scraps longer than necessary.  Also, easy access to the compost heap with a hose or other convenient sources water may be helpful, as well.

Appearance

While compost heaps can be as simple as a pile of material, constructed of some old pallets secured together, or commercial bins, you really don’t want your compost heap to be an eyesore. So, you may need to camouflage the heap with a small section a privacy fence or shrubs.

How to Get Started

Getting started can be easy and does not require a lot of equipment. To get started you need to select your compost method, location, and items you desire to compost.  If you are starting with some occasional kitchen scraps, then a small pit in a future planting location or the bottom of a new newly constructed raised bed may be a good start. However, if you plan to start with more bulk items, such as green grass clippings, then you will want to build or acquire your compost bins in advance. At least two bins are recommended: One bin starting and/or current use and the second bin for finishing/emptying.

Useful Tools

Composting is simple and does not require a lot of tools. However, a few things are helpful.

  • A compost bucket or a sealed bucket for kitchen scraps is invaluable.
  • A potato fork for turning or emptying your compost bin is, also, useful.

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Recycle and Repurposing in the Vegetable Garden

In these times of environmental sensitivity and focus on being earth-friendly, being green is everywhere is news and television programming.  While I’m no green fanatic, I have found that being green friendly and organic sort of goes with being a gardener.  Additionally, most of us, rarely, have tons of money to throw at our gardens and recycling and repurposing seems a logical derive some extra value from our garden and our purchases. Gardening is very amenable to getting a little extra value from those things that might otherwise be thrown away.

Perhaps the most obvious method of recycling is compost.  Compost, if handled properly, can allow you to use kitchen scraps and yard waste (e.g. grass clippings) to improve and maintain the garden soil.

Things that can be recycled in compost:

  • Ashes from a wood stove
  • Shredded office paper
  • Vegetable Kitchen scraps
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Fall leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Fine wood chips and sawdust
  • Newspaper
  • Paper Egg Cartons

 

Things that can be Recycled as Mulch

  • Shredded office paper
  • Newspapers
  • Paper bags
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Coarse wood chips or shavings
  • Grass cutting (if not treated with herbicide)
  • Old straw or hay

Things that can be Recycled as Lines for Raised Beds

  • Scrap office paper
  • Newspapers
  • Paper bags
  • Cardboard boxes

Things that can be Recycled as Seed Starters

  • Reused cups from restaurants ( large drink containers)
  • Egg cartons
  • Paper milk boxes
  • Egg Shells
  • Plastic muffin or cupcake packages
Rotisserie Chicken Container Top Cloche
Rotisserie Chicken Container Top Cloche

Things that can be Repurposed as Cloches

  • Clear covers from rotisserie chicken containers.
  • Clear plastic ice cream containers
  • large glass or plastic jars bottles

Things that can be Repurposed Slug and Snail Traps

  • disposable aluminum or plastic trays from pies and cakes make ideal beer slug traps containers.

I’m sure there are many more opportunities to get more value in our garden for our household purposes or other community resources.

Related References

Can Cardboard be Use as Liner for a Raised Garden Bed

Can Cardboard be Use as Liner for a Raised Garden Bed?

The short answer is: yes.  This an excellent way to recycle and/or repurpose cardboard boxes, if you happen to be building a raised bed and have a few cardboard boxes saved up and available.

Pointers

With that said, here are a few quick pointers:

  • Clearing the bottom of the raised garden bed of as much vegetation as possible.
  • Cover the entire bottom, no gaps, of the raised bed
  • Overlap up the sides of the garden bed for 6 inches, or more is recommended.
  • Use, at least two, layers, but three or four would be better.
  • Avoid boxes with plastic or other coatings.

Benefits

The benefit of this repurposing cardboard boxes like this are:

  • The cardboard boxes will provide a barrier for any vegetation you may have missed when you cleared the bottom of the bed.
  • The cardboard will allow water to pass through.
  • The cardboard is biodegradable and will amend the soil.
  • The cardboard is free.
  • Last but not least, the cardboard does not end up in the local landfill.

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