From Grounds To Ashes: Recycling Coffee Grounds

November 10, 2010

For those of you who love to recycle and hate to throw anything away, Networx contributor Shira Beth has posted a new way of recycling coffee grounds. She suggests that tossing them in the fireplace before cleaning out the ashes is a great way to keep the dust down. If you take the damp grounds from your pot of coffee and sprinkle them on the ashes, you can then scoop them out without stirring up all that ash dust. Even as the damp grounds weigh down the dust, they are not wet enough that they turn the heap into a gooey messy paste.

Anyone who struggles with cleaning the ashes out of the fireplace or wood-stove approaches the job with great dislike. At the same time, everyone doesn’t have a garden to add them to. Most people probably throw those nitrogen-rich grinds into the garbage because of the convenience. If you have a fireplace but no garden, that might be your only choice.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden and a fireplace or wood-burning stove, or if you burn wood in your barbecue, then you’ll be able to do a very good thing for the garden. Now you can clean out your ashes with the damp grounds and put the resulting ash-grind mix on your garden. The best way to do this is by making a compost pile. With composting, the ashes and grinds will mix in and “cook” with grass clippings, fallen leaves etc. and turn into wonderful natural additives for your plants.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of a compost pile, then adding the ash-grind to the soil is also okay. The one exception is the potato patch. For some reason, the potato scab loves the ashes, and this critter is not something you want to invite to your potato beds.

The ash-coffee combination is an interesting one, as the ash is alkaline and the coffee is acidic. That means that each one separately is useful for two opposite types of soil: ash for soil that is too acidic, and coffee for soil that is too alkaline. When mixed together, they may not affect the soil pH that much, but they still add nutrients. To be on the safe side, unless your soil is fairly neutral, it might be best to add the ash combo to a compost mix so it can be diluted.

The best part about recycling coffee grounds is that it doubles or triples your coffee enjoyment, as the coffee not only brightens your day, but that of your plants and fireplace too. Think about that as you sip one of our warming coffees in front of the fire.

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