Reginald is a retired educator with a passion for gardening. For the past 30 years, he has been testing techniques and loves to share them with others.
Are you part of the more than 150 million people in the United States who drink coffee? Most of us have a cup or two at home before going to work. If you’re like me, you might have a cup when you get home.
So now that we’ve established that we all drink coffee, what’s my point? It is simple! What do you do with the coffee grounds? Well, most people throw them away. Okay, but did you know that coffee grounds are a great fertilizer for your garden?
Read on to the end and learn about using coffee grounds for gardening, plus five additional fertilizers. By the end of this article, you’ll want to save your coffee grounds and become a better gardener.
Let us begin!
Organic fertilizers vs. synthetics
There have been many debates about which is more beneficial for a garden: organic or synthetic fertilizers. This gardener is very much in favor of using organic fertilizers for several reasons.
Many are items we have around the house, including coffee grounds. Organic fertilizers work and enrich the soil in your garden. The soil, in turn, feeds your plants.
Synthetic fertilizers are man-made chemicals that give your plants a quick hit of energy. The chemicals will soon wear off, leaving your plants wanting more. This means that they have nothing to do with the ground. You will end up having to use more synthetic fertilizer for the plant.
Nutrients contained in ground coffee
Coffee grounds are an excellent fertilizer for your garden due to the nutrients they contain. The “Big 3” primary nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Let’s break down these three nutrients to see inside.
- Nitrogen (N) – Nitrogen helps strengthen the roots and leaves of plants. This is one of the reasons coffee grounds are used in gardening. Coffee grounds contain about 2% nitrogen, a necessary part of chlorophyll that turns leaves green and helps plants photosynthesize.
- Match (P) – The second of the Big 3, phosphorus, is related to a plant’s ability to use and store energy, including the process of photosynthesis. It is also necessary to help plants grow and develop normally. We need phosphorus to develop flowers, fruits, and root systems. Coffee grounds provide 0.06% phosphorus.
- Potassium (K) – Potassium is the third key nutrient in commercial fertilizers. It helps strengthen the ability of plants to resist disease and plays an important role in increasing crop yields and overall quality. The roots stay healthy and help produce flowers and fruit. Potassium helps plants tolerate stress, such as drought. Coffee grounds provide 0.6% potassium for your soil.
How to prepare your ground coffee
If you grind your own coffee beans, don’t do anything special. Remember, we will save the reasons for later use. Pre-ground coffee comes in a bag or “coffee can.” These are easy to work with as you just need to find a container to store the grounds. A great receptacle is an old coffee can with a lid. If you want your coffee grounds to be useful as fertilizer, use the grounds that are completely dry. Nutrients will be stored inside as they are not as sticky, which makes them better for plants.
ground coffee tea
One day I was in my garden and my wife had just finished making a large pot of sun tea. Delicious! Drinking the tea gave me an idea. Many of us are using the new Keurig type coffee maker these days. Those who prepare your coffee through a small capsule. One of the most interesting techniques that I use now to fertilize the plants in my garden is what I call “tea from coffee grounds”.
- Take 10 used capsules and place them in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Before closing it, fill the bag with water.
- Take the bag to your garden area and leave it in the sun for a day.
- The next morning, take a pair of scissors and cut off one of the corners.
- Carefully pour the “tea” around the plants you wish to fertilize. Try to make your circle around the plant about 6 inches from the stock. This will get a better distribution to the roots.
Now, I’m not telling you that I invented this technique, but it’s interesting what will come to your mind if you just sit back, relax and think.
A variation on this theme would be to take a five-gallon bucket with a lid, put in two cups of coffee grounds, and fill it with water. Cover the bucket and let it steep for a day: ground instant tea for your plants. You can use this ground coffee tea method once a week.
Scroll to Continue
5 additional fertilizers to use with coffee grounds
Now that I’ve reviewed the use of coffee grounds as a fertilizer, I’d like to talk about five other fertilizers you can use in your garden. Understanding the treasure of coffee grounds will help you appreciate these next five. Don’t forget the magic word: “organic”.
- Fish emulsion
- chicken manure
Compost is one of the best organic materials for your garden. It’s a natural process that turns organic matter, like food scraps and yard waste, into a rich, dark material. Compost is an amazing soil builder. Some people say that compost is not a fertilizer. I say that without compost, your garden will suffer. This material is the best fertilizer to build your soil.
Compost feeds your soil. In turn, the soil takes care of the plants, offering a smorgasbord of nutrients, resistance to pests and diseases, and more. But those nutrients are slow-release and feed plants over time. And that’s a good thing. The benefits of a single application of compost can extend over several seasons.
The nitrogen, phosphorous and/or potassium values of the compost are low compared to synthetic fertilizers. This means that building your soil depends on you providing enough compost.
That said, the NPK value of compost has a dollar value. The nutrients delivered by a compost product should be a factor in any input decision involving the purchase of synthetic fertilizers. The compost will add a host of micronutrients not normally found in common synthetics and improve nutrient uptake.
I make it a daily practice to build my compost. My compost tumbler is the same as below. It works as a thousand wonders. I feed it and turn it over every day, and it gives me a nice, rich, dark compost in no time.
2. egg shells
Eggshells are a great fertilizer for your vegetable garden. You can take used eggshells, put them in your blender and grind them to a fine powder. Doing this process for several weeks will provide you with a large amount of eggshell fertilizer.
There are several uses for powdered eggshells. One is to add a few teaspoons of this powder to the hole before planting a new vegetable. It is possible to use whole eggshells in the dirt, but they will break down much faster if they are crushed or ground into a powder.
Another method would be to add crushed or powdered eggshells around the base of a plant. It is not necessary to cover the eggshells with soil. As they break down, they will leach calcium and other nutrients into the soil. This helps your plants grow strong and healthy.
Composting is a great method of building up the soil in your garden. Except for meat, collect table scraps, including eggshells, and add them to your area or compost bin. Keep doing this regularly and you’ll be rewarded with the best organic fertilizer for your soil.
3. Bone meal
Another organic fertilizer for your garden is bone meal. This type of fertilizer is made by grinding animal bones into a powder. The powder contains phosphorous and nitrogen to help plants produce new leaves and roots. Use bone meal each and every season. This is a great one-two punch of organic material.
4. Fish emulsion
Fish emulsion is another great organic material to have on hand to fertilize your garden. I use it regularly when I fertilize my plants. If you are one of those who prefers to stay away from synthetic chemical fertilizers, this is the ticket. It comes in a bottle and is very concentrated. A bottle of this fertilizer will last for many seasons.
5. Chicken manure
Chicken manure is another organic fertilizer that adds to the success of gardening. It contains those three main nutrients: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
Although composted cow manure is a great soil additive, I use chicken manure mixed with coffee grounds to sprinkle around a vegetable plant. A little will go a long way. Try it! You will love the results.
Additional facts about ground coffee
- Coffee grounds attract earthworms. Earthworms are fantastic for your garden.
- Coffee grounds are very good at repelling bugs and insects that can bother your plants.
- To use coffee grounds as an insect or pest repellant, simply place bowls of coffee grounds around your garden or sitting area.
- Coffee grounds are great at deterring mosquitoes, fruit flies, beetles, slugs, and snails.
- Sprinkle these grounds around your house plants and watch them grow.
- Coffee grounds fertilizer can help you grow more vegetables and fruits, but you should also pay attention to its use in your garden. Therefore, the main reason people prefer to use coffee grounds for gardening is the convenience and cost effectiveness of doing so. You can be sure that the process will take only a few minutes and you can get great results.
Use ground coffee for amazing ground
If you are new to gardening and serious about it, your goal should be to develop the best soil. The soil in your garden takes years to cultivate. The use of coffee grounds for gardening is an easy technique to do and very beneficial for the soil.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not intended to be a substitute for formal, individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Reginald Thomas