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All the things to do with coffee?  RSS feed

 
John Athayde
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 7a)
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So friends of ours from church own a few coffeeshops in town and have 100# - 125# of coffee grounds a week they're looking to dispose of. I've got 15 acres and I know I can use a good amount. But outside of composting it, what are your best bets for using coffee grinds?

Can I just spread it in the existing paddocks (pony, goat, chicken usage) and newly-established orchard? Should I run through the wooded part of our property spreading it out? Just work it into the garden soil at the end of the season?

What say you?
 
Meryt Helmer
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Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I know for some animals (like dogs) the caffien in cocoa shells that are sometimes used for mulch can be extremely harmful and even fatal so I would be hesitant to use it around different animals without first checking each species and caffien and safety issues.

you can grow mushrooms in them and if they are safe around the animals in an area I think I might cover paths with it. I wonder if it is strong enough alone to burn plants like uncomposted manure can if that is the case that could possibly be useful in areas with a lot of plants you wish where not there. also I have heard that it is great in vermicompost.
 
R Scott
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Always good to compost.

 
Blake Wheeler
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If I could get large amounts I would grow mushrooms personally.

As it stands, I collect the used grounds from work, so I don't get much. Some I compost, some I feed to the worms, the rest I just throw out on the ground in the area that'll be my food forest. I doubt it does much good out there, in the limited amount I have, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
 
Gregory Silling
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i'm new and i don't know if this makes any sense... but Ive started to bury compostables in a future planting area... some critters of some sort got interested... i sprinkle my coffee grounds on the surface and I have no more digging....i have no idea if there is any conclusions to be drawn from this ... but Ill keep doing it until somebody tells me to stop wasting the coffee grounds
 
Alex Veidel
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Location: Elgin, IL
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Mushrooms are a great way to use coffee grounds. Also, I wonder if you could raise some insects on them...I think Black Soldier Fly larva eat coffee grounds, if I'm remembering that correctly.
 
John Athayde
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 7a)
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Meryt - Thanks, I'll ask the vet about our Great Pyrenes and make sure there's not a concern (it seems to be a amount of caffeine, and the spent grounds having a very low amount left should be less of a concern)

Looks like Mushrooms is a good bet and a worm bin/vermicompost setup is in my future as well!
 
Cleo Dee
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Location: Similkameen Valley, BC zone 5b
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Good video about using coffee grounds

http://youtu.be/ifEAqN1bMNU
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Thanks for sharing that video. I've embedded it below.

 
Dale Hodgins
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I have spread thousands of pounds directly on the surface. The bugs eat it and drag it down. I sometimes gather the filters, to use as a weed smothering mulch. Snakes and lizards bask on the dark material.
 
Alder Burns
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Black soldier flies love coffee grounds. I try to stop by coffeeshops when I'm in town and get them, and the re-dry them in the sun to store for using little by little. So I'm giving them as a supplement to other feeds like moldy acorns and other stuff, dog manure, and even sometimes humanure. I think I read somewhere that they don't thrive on a diet exclusively of coffee grounds but it would be interesting research. The grubs then become valuable poultry or fish food, and the sludge remaining in the bin can go to compost. I would guess red compost earthworms would work as well....and might even thrive in the sludge remaining from a BSF culture or on the spent grounds from growing mushrooms.....Stack those yields!
 
Taylor Brown
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Location: Little Rock, AR 7b
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I use it to fill holes in the lawn and spread over swales. As I understand it, the nitrogen isn't immediately plant-available. It needs to be digested by worms or other critters first. It tends to cake together and repel water if mixed as more than 30% of a soil mixture. That might be desirable as a compacted footpath with a gentle slope.
 
ari gold
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I too get a bunch of coffee grounds (from a bakery).

In addition to compost & black soldier flies (they're just wild.. I haven't started growin 'em yet):

I don't know how successful it'll be but I'm trying a bit of hugelkultur with a bunch of prunings and coffee grounds. Right now I'm just growing the bed so I process the wood (breaking it down) and dump coffee grounds on it. When it's big enough - and/or I want to start another - I'll seal it with dirt and see how it goes. <fingerscrossed>
 
Andrew Schreiber
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It is great compost worm food. You could then incorporate the worm casting into soil wherever you desire the fertility and boost of worm population.
 
Zach Sears
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I get coffee beans from a local organic coffee shop, and I use them in my hugel bed as well as in my greenhouse and compost. I'm not the only one who gets them but it's nice when I can go there and pick up around 7 buckets full. It seems to work really well just straight in any garden bed. It's really good worm food and it also seems to break down quickly. Use it anywhere you think you could use a little extra organic matter.
 
Hal Hurst
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Find someone with a pellet mill and make fuel pellets.
 
Erica Wisner
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Blake Wheeler wrote:If I could get large amounts I would grow mushrooms personally.

As it stands, I collect the used grounds from work, so I don't get much. Some I compost, some I feed to the worms, the rest I just throw out on the ground in the area that'll be my food forest. I doubt it does much good out there, in the limited amount I have, but it certainly doesn't hurt.


I've heard that oyster mushrooms do well on coffee grounds. It's kinda handy that they're already almost sterile (some contamination post-brewing, but probably not a lot of opportunistic fungi in the coffee shop environment if it's up to health codes). You can get spawn from fungi perfecti, or may be able to start your own by plunking in some of the stems from raw mushrooms.

Of course they're great compost, too. Nothing wrong with just spreading them over the soil as far as I know; the small particle size means they can work in quicker than other forms of food waste. a quick Google suggests their pH is 6.9, very slightly acidic, but almost neutral, so most plants should be OK with that aspect. They may be able to help buffer hard water around blueberries or tomatoes.

-Erica
 
Sue Rine
pollinator
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Much like others, I use them for worms and compost. I don't have enough to spread them direct but a friend does. We were walking in his paddocks one day. I couldn't work out why it smelt like a cafe!
 
Jan Cooper
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I teach gardening for adult ed. One of my gardeners has the most prolific tomatoes with lush growth, healthy plants. He says that he puts 2-3 inches of coffee grounds AND one dose of fish emulsion on top of the prepared beds. Our soils are alkaline here, so the growth curve may be from making the PH of the soil more neutral, so the plants pick up more nutrients.
 
John Athayde
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 7a)
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Jan Cooper wrote:I teach gardening for adult ed. One of my gardeners has the most prolific tomatoes with lush growth, healthy plants. He says that he puts 2-3 inches of coffee grounds AND one dose of fish emulsion on top of the prepared beds. Our soils are alkaline here, so the growth curve may be from making the PH of the soil more neutral, so the plants pick up more nutrients.


We're slightly acidic (heavy clay) but the garden has been amended a lot, so it's moving away from clay. I'll check the PH, but that sounds like a great way to use a bunch of these, especially over the winter (considering the volume I'm going to be getting!)
 
Jan Cooper
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Just to clarify, he put the mulch down. Waited. Then, planted in his tomatoes, he didn't put the mulch around existing plants. The coffee mulch got hot and then cooled, then he planted.
 
Steve MacConnla
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I've read in a couple of books that coffee grounds are not good for chickens to eat, so I'd say keep it away from them.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've seen fuel logs made from compressed coffee grounds.  They market it as a green product.

 It's a huge waste of valuable organic material that has much more nutrient value than wood waste. Don't support this green washed business.
 
Mike Feddersen
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You have struck the motherlode with your friends coffee grounds. I follow a guy on youtube, "oneyardrevolution" that uses all free materials to grow a great garden in his backyard in the Chicago area.
Free mulch from the city's mulch pile, free leaves from neighbors and others that save it for him(leaves compost great and retain water like crazy) and he gets free coffee grounds from a few local shops when he can. I have included a video he did on coffee grounds, a link to some more of his videos and I want to mention he had his soil tested for how good it was at a state lab. The guy uses no other chemicals or miracle grow or anything. Composts like crazy and talks about various aspects of getting more out of less space.



Coffee Ground Videos

OneYardRevolution's Facebook Page
 
John Athayde
Posts: 23
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 7a)
books forest garden goat
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Steve MacConnla wrote:I've read in a couple of books that coffee grounds are not good for chickens to eat, so I'd say keep it away from them.


We move our chickens in a Harvey-Ussery-style A-frame tractor in electronet so we can make sure they're not near where we're spreading the coffee, at least initially. Once the coffee becomes partially incorporated into the soil, it should be okay for them to be in that area, no?
 
Sue Rine
pollinator
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I put two bags of coffee grounds, (maybe 8cups total), in with our chickens a couple of days before I read this. No problem, but maybe not a good idea to continue, especially when worms like them so much. Actually, I'm not sure the chickens really went for them anyway, certainly not while I was watching.
 
Cris Fellows
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Currently I am picking up a large bag-o-grounds from the local Starbucks every couple of weeks. Read an article that stated it helped to amend soil towards a more acidic environment and supplies nitrogen and as such was good for blueberries. My bushes are new, and our clay soil quite alkaline. The article said a cup or two for each bush every couple of weeks. I have just started, so I can't attest to any miracles yet.
 
Joanna Hirschi
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I've had great success using large amounts of coffee grounds as an ingredient in my sheet mulching. Whenever I'm ready to start a new bed at my home or for a client, I use a thick layer of horse manure (8 inches or so) covered by two layers of cardboard. I follow that with a couple of inches of coffee grounds, some compost and amendments, then a thin layer of wood chip mulch.

The coffee grounds accomplish a few things: 1. they are a good addition of nitrogen right on top of the carbon-rich cardboard, 2. they cover up the manure smell completely with a nice fresh coffee scent, and 3. they hold an ideal amount of moisture. Whenever I get ready to plant annual crops into these beds I just dig down to the top of the cardboard, adding a little soil and tucking the coffee grounds and mulch back right on top. I'm amazed at how well this combination holds water--when I return days later to add more plants it often needs no additional irrigation.

I can see that the plants are loving it, too. They already grow like weeds in the first month or two, even though sheet mulching is often recommended to do months ahead of planting time.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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everything you might want to know about coffee grounds Try this little bit I posted a while back.
 
John Athayde
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 7a)
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:everything you might want to know about coffee grounds Try this little bit I posted a while back.


That was excellent! Thanks for the details
 
Emilie Thomas-Anderson
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I pick up a few bags of coffee grounds from the coffee shop about once every couple of weeks, sun-dry them, and then use them as cover material in my composting toilet (the simple bucket/cartage type). It makes for the best-smelling toilet ever!
 
Sue Rine
pollinator
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We have one of those...what a great idea. And then the worms and eventually the garden still get the benefit.
 
Troy Santos
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Location: Southern Thailand
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In that post of Bryant's that he referred to in this thread, he says that spent coffee grounds repel insects. That struck me right between the eyes (happily!). A few days before, just to see what would happen, I placed a handful of used coffee grounds a few inches from some cucumber plants, but not from other cucumber plants. Wanted to see if there'd be any difference in their vigor, their growth. I've not noticed any difference in growth but the plants that didn't get the coffee have been getting bit to hell by a small orange beetle, don't know this guy's name though. (I'm in Thailand.) The plants are very young, only about 10 or 15 days old.

After reading that bit in Bryant's post, I thought about the plants that didn't get the coffee and were getting eaten up. So, a little while later that morning, I went out to put coffee grounds on the plants that didn't get any before. Sure enough, the cute little beetles were there and promptly flew away. So I put a handful of the stuff near the plants and waited to see if the beetles would return. They did, and seemed unconcerned about the coffee. So I smeared a little on the leaves but the beetles still hung around, though I think they were dining less than before I smeared the grounds on.

Since putting the spent coffee grounds on the ground didn't repel the beetles and spreading the coffee on the leaves didn't keep the guys away completely, I figured that I'd need to water so that some juice from the grounds would get down below the surface, be taken up by the roots to become part of the plant before the beetles would completely lose interest. So I watered that evening, and that sure seems to have been the magic bullet. Every time I walk by and shake the cucumber leaves, I don't see any little orange beetles flying away, and it's been two full days now Those guys were doing a number on a couple of plants but they're recovering now, and it only took 24 hours

Thanks Bryant
 
Bryant RedHawk
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You are welcome kola Troy Santos.
Those coffee grounds will be eaten by the worms and their castings will fertilize and help condition the soil.
As you continue to sprinkle around your plants and water in, the soil will become better and better.

There is much to love about spent coffee grounds.
We use them to condition straw bales prior to planting in them, the nitrogen content does wonders as well as adding many micro organisms that thrive off the coffee grounds.
I don't think there is any other "beverage" that provides happiness on so many levels if you just use the whole instead of just a part.
In my culture we are brought up knowing all things are sacred and that we should use every bit possible of anything we harvest for food be it plant or animal.
In using the coffee grounds, we are returning the beans to mother earth, where we complete the coffee circle of life.

You can steep the spent grounds and use the decoction as a spray or as plant water. This method isn't as good as just spreading the grounds on the surface and watering them in, but it is good for indoor (house) plants.
 
Keith Odell
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Soldier fly attractor.

I was working at our community garden pile last night. I added five gallons of coffee grounds and filters to the top of the compost pile and then went to weed.
I came back thirty minutes later and there were 15-20 soldier flies flying over and exploring the grounds.
These were not the "beloved" or "despised" black soldier fly but definitely a soldier fly (yellow, I suspect)

Don't know if you want them but chickens love the larvae.

Personally, I use the grounds on my yard - like a monkey flinging poo.
 
Vera Stewart
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Okay, I know that the coffee grounds are wonderful, but what about the coffee pre-use?

I don't drink coffee, but our visitors over the summer did, however, they didn't use all of the bag that we got for them. There is still about two cups of coffee left over in the fridge (getting stale, probably, I don't know.)
I'm not going to make this into a drink, so can I use it as if it were coffee grounds?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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fresh coffee (pre brewed ground beans) can be used the same as spent grounds but you will get the big shot of caffeine.

If you worry about what caffeine will do to your plants, just leach it out as if you were brewing coffee, you can leach it by several methods, brew it like you were going to drink it, brew it as "cowboy" coffee (pour grounds in pot, add hot water, let steep and pour off the liquid), or you can cold brew the grounds.
In each of these cases, the supernate (what is considered "coffee") can be used for watering a compost heap (it will help heat it up), it can be poured over an unwanted ant hill, it can be used on blueberries, serviceberries or just about any acid loving plant you have.
Once you have created and "disposed" of the coffee drink, you have spent grounds. Of course using those fresh beans in ground form is pretty much the same as using spent grounds, which saves you the brewing step.
Keep in mind that fresh ground beans will at first inhibit mushroom spawn, but that will dissipate as the ground coffee ages in or on the ground or in a substrate.

 
Vera Stewart
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Thanks very much.
 
John Polk
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Here is an example from my personal experience:

Several years ago, I got a 100 square foot P-Patch plot. The community garden had received a dump-truck load of spent grounds (from a local ice cream manufacturer who had just made a batch of coffee ice cream).

I did a lazy man's version of a double-dig garden, and incorporated 4 wheel barrow loads of grounds into the soil in spring.
(These were full sized wheel barrows, not the 'light' version.)

You could barely detect it in the soil, but the following spring, the soil was still very friable.
If they had more grounds, I would have put in another 4 wheel barrows full (or more).

For most of us, the real concern is "Where can I get enough coffee grounds?", rather than "What can I do with all of these grounds?"

Many of the other gardeners at the P-Patch were asking me where I got all of my worms...they were clearly visible all over the surface of my plot, while most other gardeners claimed that they had no worms. The coffee grounds will attract the earth worms from afar if they are incorporated heavy enough. A first step in building good soil.
 
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