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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Epsom Salt In The Garden

Bag Of Epsom Salt
Bag Of Epsom Salt

Occasionally, I hear someone recommending that gardeners use Epsom salt. I’ve even seen it on television were some supposed master gardener will come out and say you should use Epsom salt for this or that. So, having been recently asked, once again, about Epsom salt, I thought I would put down a few notes which may be helpful to fellow gardeners.

What is Epsom Salt?

  • Epsom salt is a very simple crystalline chemical mix magnesium, sulfate, and trace amounts of water.

Is Epsom Salt A Fertilizer?

  • Actually, Epsom salt would not be considered a fertilizer. It could be regarded as a nutrient as common garden plants require some magnesium, but it is not one of the three constituents of fertilizer, which are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) (NPK). Epsom salt has no measurable quantity of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)  (NPK)

Magnesium Deficiency in Plants

  • Magnesium deficiencies can occur in soils, but it’s not usually much of a problem. And the only really trustworthy way to know if your garden soil has a sufficient magnesium unit is to have a soil test performed.
  • Generally, if you have been taking reasonable care of your garden and adding some soil amendments such as compost, you shouldn’t have much of an issue with magnesium deficiencies.

Does Epsom Salt Control Pests?

  • The short answer is no, nor does it repel the usual garden pests.

Does Epsom Salt Control Plant Diseases?

  • Here, also, the short answer is no; Epsom Salt does not control or kill any common garden disease.

Does Epsom Salt Make Plants Grow Better?

  • Also, no; unless your soil has a magnesium deficiency and Dolomitic lime may actually be a better solution; especially, when combined with some fresh compost.

Preventing Blossom End Rot (BER)

  • Blossom End Rot is a calcium deficiency coupled with an improper watering regiment. Blossom End Rot (BER) is not a magnesium deficiency. Adding Epsom salt, magnesium, will not fix the problem.

Should You Use Epsom Salts?

  • I would very strongly recommend a soil test first if your soil test shows that you have a magnesium deficiency:
  • Consider using Dolomitic lime, rather than Epsom salt. However, if your soil test indicates a magnesium deficiency and your soil PH level support it.
  • If you choose to use Epsom Salt to address the magnesium deficiency, you will need to use it in moderation and perform multiple, regularly scheduled, applications throughout the growing season.

Conclusion

While some gardeners do use Epsom salts, there are other better alternatives for providing magnesium. Therefore, I find that I cannot in good conscience recommend it to a fellow gardener.  If you feel that you must use Epsom salt, then plan it carefully and remember that more is not always better.

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Compost Tip – Suppressing compost bin odors

Compost Bin
Compost Bin

Compost bin order fix

  •   to suppress odors in a compost bin, pour in a box of baking soda and mix the contents of the bin. This will keep the acidity level down in a compost bin and suppress the order.

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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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