Did you realize that as you brew each pot of coffee, you are creating an environmentally-friendly source of fertilizer for your garden or houseplants? Java drinkers create this naturally enriching garden additive every time they brew a pot! Used coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen and make a nutritious addition to your compost pile, garden mulch, or potting soil, and they have the added advantage of deterring garden pests.
If this is not your hot beverage of choice, there are lots of places to get free, used grounds. Many environmentally-friendly restaurants, coffee chains, and convenience stores will save their grounds and give them away for the asking. You can get free grounds from the coffeemaker at work, or ask java-loving friends to save theirs for you.
The Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds as Gardening Mulch
The dark brown roasted color absorbs heat from the sunlight and can warm up the soil early in the growing season. As the grounds break down over time, they add valuable nutrients to the soil, fertilizing your garden plants without adding toxic chemicals to the soil.
Coffee ground fertilizer is slightly acidic, which makes it a perfect fertilizer for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, blueberries, hydrangea, rhododendrons, and gardenia. For plants that prefer a lower acid level, balance the pH by working dried leaves and grass into the soil along with the used grinds, and monitor the pH with a garden meter.
As a bonus, this type of protective covering will discourage slugs and snails, who don't like caffeine or the gritty texture of the coffee grounds. The arabica aroma can deter other small pests by confusing their sense of smell which draws them to your garden plants. Working the grounds into the soil around the plants will discourage root maggots.
Ways to Use Your Coffee Ground Fertilizer
The simplest way to use your used grounds is to just add them as a side dressing on the soil around your garden plants. Do this just before it rains, or before you water your garden. It is important to mulch with your used coffee grounds while they are still fresh because they'll mold quickly when stored in a can, which doesn't affect their usefulness, but when you use them as mulch they will not be as attractive.
You can also turn your free coffee grounds into liquid fertilizer simply by adding about a pound of used java grounds to five gallons of water. Stir the mixture well and let the watering can sit out in the sun a while, then just water as usual. You can use this solution on your house plants and watch it grow.
Recycle This Nutritious, Natural Fertilizer!
Lastly, consider adding used coffee grounds, filters and all, to an existing compost pile. The nitrogen in the grounds will enrich the finished compost, and compensate for the carbon added by leaves, stems, and grass. The heat from the java grounds will break your compost pile down quickly.
We are a nation of coffee drinkers. Why let all this rich, nutritious composting material end up in the landfill when we could be recycling it, feeding our gardens, and ultimately growing healthier produce to feed ourselves? Keep an empty can next to the coffee maker or espresso machine and fill 'er up!