mulching veggie bed with coffee grounds?

mountainhowlJune 4, 2008

Wondering if I could use coffee grounds right on to the beds....i know that the worms love it...but would it harm the plants. I have access to a lot of coffee grounds and I thought that i would just put it straight into the garden instead of in the compost. Maybe mix it with composted cow manure first...any thoughts.


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madmagic(dtown Toronto)

Coffee grounds can be put right on the garden soil or cultivated lightly into the soil without harming plants.

Some gardeners who post here on the forum -- especially folks living in drier climates -- have said a 1/2" or thicker layer of UCG can sometimes dry out, then allow rainwater to flow off instead of soaking in.

Mixing UCG lightly with soil or other compostables tends to stop their tendency to dry out and repel water. Leaf mold and UCG have been an excellent combination for me -- earthworms and plants have really prospered when those two amendments were added simultaneously to the same soil.

All the best,

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 2:30PM
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I also have access to a lot of used coffee grounds (UCG), and love to use them in composting. Occasionally, I will fling a very thin layer on some rough patches in my lawn. This spring, I mixed a small amount of UCG with compost and used it as mulch for my garlic without any problems. In fact, the garlic looks great!

However, I don't use only UCG's in my garden because a thick layer of coffee grounds can dry out and then end up repelling water.

Happy Composting,


    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 2:40PM
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Are you referring to Used Coffee Grounds? If so they will not harm any plants when applied correctly (20-40lbs per 1000sqft) Never use Fresh Grounds. Again, be careful how thick you apply them. Here in FL with the hot bright sun even a 1/4" is enough to repel water. Working them into the soil is the best bet, or mix them with the composted cow manure then apply.

I prefer to scatter them at random throughout my property. on my lawn, plant beds, on top of mulch, leafs, in compost etc etc.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:11PM
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What happens if you use fresh grounds? (Other than the waste of good coffee!)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:20PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

Agree with above. Even in soggy Seattle, a "mulch" of only 1/4" will form a crusty layer that rain won't penetrate.

Sprinkling or mixing into the soil works well. There is also the ever-popular flinging technique used mainly on lawns.

Be aware that you are adding a rich source of nitrogen. UCGs are so rich in N, that I consider them basically a fertilizer. Plants that you grow for foliage, like lettuce hostas, heucheras, and grass will like it a lot. Other plants may prefer more balanced nutrients.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Thank you all so much for your feed back.
It has been very informative!

I certainly don't want to deprive these plants from a good drink
so I think I will try mixing it with the composted manure first
before working it into the soil around the plants.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 5:10PM
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You can use these coffee grounds as a mulch, and I have. But they can form an impervious layer that could keep water from getting into the ground, the same as any other hydrophobic soil. As with any type of organic matter these are best composted before being put on the soil as part of a larger mix that has more nutrients.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 7:53AM
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MIxing the manure compost and the grounds sounds like a good way to prep beds and I wish I had thougt of it before ... but I have my beds done already and most everything is in. I am looking for an affordable way to keep feeding the soil and building up the nutrient contents around the plants. My garden is quite large and I would love to mulch everything with a land and sea compost ...but... it would cost so much. So I thought maybe used coffee grounds they're free and I still have some composted manure left over so I thought that maybe I could start by mixing the two of those together.

Any other ideas on what I could use. I also thought about mixing in some crushed sea shells. I am not far from the ocean and I did notice a few slugs in the garden the other day so....

I am welcome and open to ideas that anyone has of fairly affordable to free organic material that I can use or mix in with the USG and composted manure. I have also considered lawn clippings. I am just not sure were I would get those yet.

Karchita had mentioned that UCG are high in N....would that mean I may not want to use them on legumes? That may be a silly question but i know that legumes are Nitrogen fixing plants so would the USC be an over kill for them.

again thanks for all the feed back!!!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 9:28AM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

Compost in bags costs a lot more than compost in bulk. You can have it delivered by truck, but that can also be pricy, depending on where you live. However, if you have your own pickup, you can go get it yourself and save a bundle. I can get a half a cubic yard from a place about two miles away for about $15, so that is pretty affordable.

Personally, I wouldn't put UCGs on legumes. I would use compost and if necessary, a balanced organic fertilizer. But with enough compost, that probably wouldn't be necessary. YMMV.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Let me try and explain further.

UCG's are an excellent way to add organic matter and nutrients to existing soils. The main point here, as with any amendment is not to smother the existing soil, plant, grass etc. UCG can be used thinly all over the landscape as organic matter. So you can simply toss/fling your UCG onto the garden, landscape beds, lawn, etc. A moderate application rate would be 20-40lbs per 1000sqft. You could safely apply this amount monthly if desired. If you do add a large quantity(>40lbs), you may want to dig them into the existing soil to avoid water repelling issues.

A few other uses for Used Coffee Grounds:

Add to compost piles to increase nitrogen balance. Coffee filters and tea bags break down rapidly during composting.

Dilute with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer. Use about a half-pound can of wet grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water; let sit outdoors to achieve ambient temperature.

Mix into soil for potted plants/houseplants.

Encircle the base of the plant with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests.

If you are into vermi-posting, feed a little bit to your worms

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 11:51AM
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