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Free Fertilizer (If You Drink Coffee)

OK, I have to admit something. I drink a lot of coffee, what would probably be considered an unhealthy amount. But hey, they say it's full of anti-oxidants, so that's a good thing right? That's what i'll keep telling myself at least...

All that coffee produces a lot of coffee grounds. Did you know that you can spread them around your garden, or put them in the compost pile (if you have one). They help improve your soil's nutrients and structure!



Used coffee grounds actually contain fertilizer in them! They're not a replacement for your usual feedings, but they are a great slow release fertilizer. Your typical all purpose garden fertilizer might be a 10-10-10 which means that the bag contains 10% by weight of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.

According to a study from North Carolina State University, the ratio of fertilizer in used coffee grounds is: 3.1 - 0.3 - 0.3. This means it is pretty Nitrogen heavy. It's a great fertilizer to use around your leafy vegetables (like collards, kale, spinach, lettuce, and chard). Avoid using it too much with plants that you require to fruit (like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and strawberries) unless you supplement them with other fertilizers to provide a more balanced nutrient package.

One thing to keep in mind when spreading around used coffee grounds is that they will develop some mold on them, especially when applied too heavily and not worked into the soil. Don't worry, this won't affect your plants. In fact, a Washington State University study suggests that the fungal colonies formed on coffee grounds actually help fight off some common fungal root diseases including Fusarium, Pythium, and Sclerotinia.


Even though ground coffee is pretty Nitrogen heavy, and requires balancing with other fertilizers to provide more phosphorous and potassium, it has a list of other benefits as well!

  • Attracts and feeds earthworms

  • Loosens the soil

  • Retains water

  • Deters snails, slugs, ants, and cats

  • Reduce soil borne disease

  • A cost free soil amendment

  • An easy way to reduce landfill and get you out into the garden

  • Can be applied directly to the garden, into compost, on the lawn, or in liquid form to pour over into the soil


So there you have it! Whether you have a healthy, (or unhealthy like me) addiction to coffee, put those used coffee grounds to good use!

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