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Coffee Grounds in the Flower Garden

Coffee grounds are a free and nutrient dense source of material in the flower garden. Use them as a compost amendment or directly in the garden as a soil enhancer.

Sources of Coffee Grounds

If you’re a coffee drinker, you may already be putting your coffee grounds to good use in the garden. However, if you’re the only coffee drinker in the house, or if you brew your coffee in a machine that uses pods, you won’t get much of a yield from this free source of organic riches. If you treat yourself to the occasional coffee shop treat, bring a large zip lock bag along and ask for the grounds on hand. If you have a close relationship with your local coffee purveyor, ask the manager to save the grounds for you to pick up a few times a week. If you don’t drink much coffee, gather the grounds from your office break room, grocery store deli, or restaurant.

Types of Coffee Grounds

With respect to available garden nutrients, you can use regular or decaffeinated coffee. If you use decaffeinated coffee, consider the method used to remove the caffeine. For the organic purist, the Swiss water method is preferred. This method uses carbon or charcoal filters to remove the caffeine. The commonly used direct method uses chemical solvents to remove the caffeine, but the roasting process causes nearly all of the solvent to evaporate.

To support the efforts of organic gardeners in coffee growing nations, you may prefer to use organically grown coffee in your garden. Shade grown coffee further supports the ecosystem by maintaining the habitat of jungle birds.

Coffee Grounds in Compost

Although coffee resembles the carbon-rich brown leaves in your compost bin, coffee grounds count as green matter in compost making. You can add the filter to the compost bin along with the grounds; it breaks down quickly. Choose unbleached coffee filters for your drip coffee maker to minimize chemicals in the garden. Worms also love coffee grounds, so use them in your vermicompost bin.

Coffee Grounds as Mulch and Fertilizer

Combine coffee grounds with chopped leaves for a fluffy mulch you can use around your acid-loving plants. Avoid using coffee grounds as stand-alone mulch, as the grounds can form as water-repelling crust as they dry in the sun. Rhododendrons, heaths and heathers, azaleas, roses, and evergreen shrubs appreciate the acid content in coffee grounds, so you can also add the grounds directly to the planting hole for these specimens as a growth stimulant. If you’ve composted the grounds, you can use them anywhere in the garden, as the composting process neutralizes the acidic component of the coffee.