Free Nitrogen for your Garden

Coffeegrounds2Did you know that Starbucks (and probably any local coffee shop) gives away their used coffee grounds if you just ask? They have a policy to support local gardeners/farmers who use the coffee grounds as a natural nitrogen supplement for their soil. Best part? It’s FREE! (as in beer)

As an organic gardener with a limited budget, I’m always looking for inexpensive or free ways to naturally supplement my soil and Starbucks is actually quite generous in this regard. I show up several times a week and ask for my handout and they are always more than happy to accommodate me.  In fact, they now know me by name and greet me with a smile every time I appear with bucket in hand.

For those of you that like the juicy details (like myself) of why coffee grounds are great for your garden, read on!

Healthy soil is the foundation to any productive garden and coffee grounds add lots of nitrogen, one of the most important elements plants require for healthy growth.  A nitrogen deficiency is the most common limiting factor in crop productivity. The grounds also provide generous amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, and deter annoying insects like ants (the red ants in East Texas are demons!), snails and slugs, an added bonus.

Based on my research, I’ve found that most studies suggest adding 30% coffee grounds to your soil, or 1 lb per square foot of garden soil. This is why Starbucks is an excellent resource, as they can supply large quantities of this much needed resource.

There are several different ways you can put your used coffee grounds to work.

  1. Add them to your compost bin.
  2. Make a coffee ground “tea.”
  3. Add directly to the soil.  I usually just toss them on top, but some people prefer to work them into the top 2-6 inches.
  4. Add them to your worm composter (apparently worms love coffee as much as caffeine addicted people do!)

So if your garden needs a jolt and you want to take advantage of a free, organic resource, stop by your local coffee shop and load up!

Have something to add? Include your comments below.

1 Comment
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