It’s Spring and a Young Gardener’s Thoughts Turn To…… Coffee Compost

A recent Sacramento Bee column on gardening discussed the use of coffee grounds in compost. A good point was made that gardeners should be careful not to use too much of a good thing. The best way to do this is to monitor soil pH with a simple pH test kit from most garden stores. High in nitrogen, many garden plants love coffee grounds; the acid-loving plants eat it up. It’s great for fast-growing vegetables like tomatoes. It’s also good for blueberries, roses, rhododendron, azalea, dogwood, fir, heather, holly, hydrangea, juniper, magnolia, mountain laurel, pine, pyracanthus, viburnum, white cedar, yew and more. Just be careful not to spread out too much; you don’t want the acidity to go below a five. If you’re going for a more neutral compost, coffee grounds can be added to manure, grass clippings and even weeds. If using manure, use cow, goat, or sheep manure. Chicken manure heats up well, and if you have weeds, you need to heat your compost to 150-165 degrees F to kill the seeds. Add your kitchen waste. Put it all in a pile or barrel and make sure to add water and stir every so often. A black plastic barrel works well, and it should be covered with a black lid or plastic to magnify the heat of the sun. Another way to cut the acid in your coffee ground compost is to combine it with one cup agricultural lime or hardwood ashes for every ten pounds. See related article You can even make a compost tea if you want to capture the nutrients and spread over a wider area. You’ll need a 30-gallon drum with a water shut-off valve near the bottom. Put the compost in three pillow cases inside the drum and fill the drum with water. Make sure the drum is securely covered to keep mosquitoes from breeding. Let the tea brew for three weeks. The tea can be applied to plants every two weeks, and you can dilute it as plants get older. With composting, coffee lovers are able to spread that love around. When you sit in your garden enjoying your morning cup, you’ll not only be enjoying the coffee in the cup but the coffee of days past that helped to nurture the greenery all around you. That’s recycling at its finest.

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