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Have your latte and compost it, too

You want the family to eat more organic fruits and vegetables because they are nutritious, tasty, and free of chemical pesticides. Organics are also grown with an emphasis on sustainable techniques that recognize our ongoing reliance of healthy soil and animal life. The downside for buying organic is often the cost. However, getting started on growing your own organic fruits and vegetables is easier than it sounds.

Sustainable gardening is not only for the farmyard, it is just as relevant in your own backyard. You’ll need to start out with healthy soil, and one of the best things you can do for your new garden is collecting used coffee grounds.

Think of it this way: you are finding a moment of peace among friends, sharing the latest news over a freshly made latte, wondering what coffee has to do with organic gardening. A great deal as it turns out!

Used coffee grounds (UCG) have been recycled by generations of gardeners as a fertilizer and compost additive. Today, there are more coffee drinkers than ever and, for those that are in the know, it means an almost limitless supply for their soil and plants. Many of the major chain coffee shops even provide UCGs free of charge…just ask!

As you finish off the last of your latte, keep in mind that an entire ounce of used coffee grounds was left behind by making it. Multiply that by everyone else drinking coffee in there and those left over grounds add up to a huge pile of waste. Upon decomposition, they transform into the greenhouse gas methane, a major cause of global warming, and then off they go to landfill. So why not recycle?

How much coffee does it take to keep the plants happy?

The grounds from just a few cups of coffee is enough to start seeing a difference. On plants like roses, you’ll start to see more vibrant flowers within a few weeks. For vegetable plants, you should see more vigorous growth as the grounds are broken down into the soil.

What are the other benefits of using coffee grounds?

Other parts of the garden will improve with the use of coffee grounds, such as an increased number of earthworms coming to visit (and stay). Worms love coffee grounds so much so that in a worm farm you can use those grounds in up to 25% of their total intake.

Coffee grounds also help loosen the soil and combat the build up of clay, providing an improved flow of nutrients to your plants while improving moisture retention.

Additionally, you will find that snails and slugs are less likely to stick around with a handful of coffee grounds on the surface of the soil. The same goes for ants and cats, both of which can be detrimental to plants.

When added to compost, coffee grounds will help increase the temperature of the whole stack, which means you get that compost finished sooner and of a higher quality. You will also find that compost treated with coffee grounds is better able to combat soil-borne disease.

So now you know a little more about the benefits of coffee grounds for soil and plant health, which is the basis of a sustainable organic approach to gardening. Growing fruits and vegetables at home is a great way to supplement your intake of good quality food, which is exactly what you want for the family.

The next time you are about to finish that latte, see if you can get those grounds to go. Your fruit and vegetable plants will thank you later.

[author]  [author_info]About the Author

Shane Genziuk is a corporate technologist and committed environmentalist. He is the founder of Ground to Ground, a volunteer group that encourages cafés and businesses to make better use of spent coffee grounds for compost and  fertilizer.

This post has been syndicated by Nathan Brown, the gardening internship recruiter for Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and provider of eco advertising.


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This post was written by a guest writer for Prime Parents Club. We are not currently taking new guest writers.


  1. 40MomsClub

    February 7, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Have your latte and compost it, too… #gardening #compost #coffee #green

  2. Jacqueline W.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I always see the UCG bin at Starbucks, but never knew what to people used it for. This is awesome info. Thanks!

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