Composting leaves with coffee grounds

josko021August 3, 2012

I've hoarded about 50 gals of coffee grounds (10 5 gal buckets) with the idea of combining them with leaves in a compost pile this fall. I'm thinking of doing a pallet bin and layering leaves and grounds. What kind of ratio of leaves to grounds do I want, and does anybody have any words of wisdom on how to best construct this pile? I don't really have the means of shredding leaves beforehand.

My guess is the pile (4'x4'x5'high) will still be carbon heavy, so I have ~10 gals of fish offal to add to it, if nitrogen is indeed lacking. (I'm not worried about animals and have learned to control odors.)

How would I calculate how much coffee grounds is needed to optimally balance out this size pile?

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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

It will get hotter if you add more browns then green. Coffee is a green. So more leaves then coffee would be better if you have that, if not it does not really matter so much, it won't be as hot, but it will be ok. I used to use a 50/50 ratio, but more browns like maybe 30/70. Get a compost thermometer and you can figure out what is working. I used to go 50/50 because coffee is free and my supply of browns was limited, and that works great.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 8:36AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

Off hand I would think that what you have is plenty of UCG for that size pile. I collected UCG all through a fall and winter to add to a 4x4x4 pile of unshredded leaves. I added and would turn it periodically through the winter (snow days included) to get the UCG mixed in thoroughly. It was amazing how hot it would get in the dead of winter. I remember sweating away when it would be freezing out from all the heat coming off the pile during turning. By the spring, the whole pile was mostly crumbly compost... smelled good too.

If you can turn it at all, that will of course help, and you can then check to see if your mix is working.. and you can then break any sections of matted leaves. You then could add more to the mix at that time to even it out.

Others can chime in for a more measured scientific approach!
Me basic... ugg

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 8:49AM
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The Nitrogen in the coffee grounds would be on a par with that of animal manures so if you mix 1 part coffee grounds with 3 parts leaves, or other vegetative waste, you will be about where you need to be.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 6:57AM
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yolos - z 7b/8a Ga.

According to the following website. To achieve a 25:1 C:N ratio use 1 cuft of coffee grounds to 4 cuft of loose dry leaves. Or 1 cuft coffee grounds to 2 cuft of wet compacted leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: C:N calculator

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 9:07PM
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Depends quite a bit on the type of leaves. Leaves that fall off the tree may have a c:n ratio from 20:1 to 90:1.

I just Googled c:n ratio of oak leaves. Too easy to get bad info. For example: Two articles had C:N of 'oak leaves' at 26:1. Only the third article had the exact same info but included the very important word 'Green'. The C:N ratio for oak leaves that fall off the tree brown might be around 50:1.

Shredding leaves is very important if faster compost is desired. Use a mower if no shredder is available.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 5:12PM
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I throw everything in, mix it up, moisten it and then run like heck. I added around 10% coffee grounds, 40% chicken manure and the rest in soggy leaves from the previous autumn. In 30 days I had some crazy insane butt kicking compost and nobody got hurt. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: 30 day compost

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 8:20PM
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