Do you drink a cup of coffee every morning or a pot of coffee throughout the day? My husband and I go through two pots a day. We generate a lot of coffee grounds, but they never end up in the trash. If you are throwing away your used coffee grounds, then this article is for you because you are missing out on all the wonderful benefits coffee grounds can provide your compost pile, your garden or your worm bin.
Coffee is a fantastic source of nitrogen, something your compost bin and garden need. Nitrogen accelerates the composting process so organic matter breaks down faster. Many farmers use cow or chicken manure as their source of nitrogen in compost piles, but manure is not readily available to everyone, especially urbanites. Coffee grounds are readily available, even to those that don't drink coffee, and provide the same raw materials necessary to create the proper carbon-nitrogen balance in your compost pile. Folks that do not drink coffee can visit a local coffee shop and ask for their used grounds. Take your own sealable bag and most coffee shops are happy to oblige.
Coffee grounds may be brown, but in compost speak, they are considered a "green" nitrogen-rich material. Dry leaves provide the "brown" carbon rich material. For the ultimate mix in your compost bin, you should strive for one-third green matter and two-thirds brown matter. Why is the green to brown ratio so important? Compost piles need to reach an internal temperature of 135 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum decomposition and to kill pathogens and seeds in the compost. Achieving the right carbon to nitrogen mix helps the compost heat up. Urbanites will be happy to know that coffee grounds have been shown to be more effective than manure at maintaining high internal compost temperatures over a sustained period of time.
There are a number of other benefits and uses for used coffee grounds. In addition to nitrogen, used grounds contain minerals your plants need like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Whether you add the grounds to your compost bin or mix them directly into your garden soil, the minerals will add back the nutrients your plants need to thrive. You can also sprinkle the grounds on top of the soil around slug-prone plants like strawberries, lettuce and tomatoes to provide a slug barrier. If you are vermicomposting, or worm composting, you probably already know that coffee grounds are a favorite food of composting worms, like red wigglers. I have just one caution to share regarding the use of coffee grounds in your compost and garden. Only add used coffee grounds. Unused coffee grounds are far too acidic and can cause damage.
Finally, it is good to remember that every ounce of organic waste we add to the compost pile is an ounce of waste that did not make it to the landfill. Besides filling up the landfill faster, organic waste in landfills produces methane and leachate pollutants. Every ounce of organic matter we keep out of landfills is helping the environment in a multitude of ways.
So after you have your morning caffeine fix, spare the landfill and put those used grounds to work again heating up your compost bin.
If you liked this article, come on over to Compost Bins and More for more advice on composting and to see our wide selection of composting bins, worm bins and other compost related items.
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