If you’re a new gardener, you may have heard about the benefits of used coffee grounds in the garden (but only for acid-loving plants). Though coffee is acidic, all that acid is removed during the brewing process, so coffee grounds actually have a neutral pH. Good news for gardeners! However, there are some other things to know about coffee grounds that need to be considered before you dump your used grounds directly on those tomatoes. Coffee is a good source of nitrogen for the compost pile, but don’t add it directly to the soil. Here’s why:
- ADD TO COMPOST – coffee grounds are about 2% nitrogen, making them a good substitute for manure (yes, really) in composting (and it smells better). Coffee grounds encourage microbial growth in compost, raising the heat faster and keeping it hot longer, so unwanted pests and diseases are killed off. So if you’re squeamish about handling manure, coffee grounds can stand in quite successfully.
- KEEP “RAW” COFFEE GROUNDS OFF SOIL for the same reason – those microbes that heat up the compost pile are hungry for nitrogen, so they’ll eat up that vital nitrogen in your soil plants (especially veggies) need. You can counteract this by adding a nitrogen rich fertilizer at the same time. The microbes are good for the soil, they just need to bring their own nitrogen.
Coffee grounds can also help keep pests OUT of your garden – sprinkle around the edges of your bed to deter slugs and snails from crossing the grainy border. Ants are rumored to not like it either.