watering lime with coffee seconds?

fognightJanuary 12, 2006

Well I see the use of coffee grounds crop up a lot in the garden experiment forum. I also know that coffee is acidic and cirtus like that.

Would it be a good or even acceptable idea to water my lime tree with water run through used coffee grounds? Would it be prudent to wait until summer growth season starts? Am I overlooking anyother things in doing this?

On another note I live in south western Indiana and the water here is very high in calcium and other scale (little or no iron though). I am on a municipal water supply and don't consider it hard. Will I have to worry about salt and Ca build up in the soil? Can I simply run water through it as has been suggested in other threads?

Quick background on this situation:

Over thanksgiving this tree dried out too much and dropped all the leaves. It has since come back to some extent and now has about a dozen leaves at least 75% full grown. It was started from seed about 2 years ago, potted in an 8" terracotta pot, and stands about 18 inches tall. The last time I have added any fertilizer -- AP miracle-gro -- was mid-July. I would say at this point the tree has zero in the way of reserve energy.

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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

Fog, you need to totally re-think the care of your lime tree.Water throughly where water runs out the bottom..I'm assuming it's a potted citrus, to flush the salts out, and throughly water your tree. Not good either to over acidify your tree either.You need to establish a feed routine also.Buy some Mir-acid and mix to water every other month and some citrus food or azalea food to feed a few times a year and your GOOD to GO! Citrus are feeders and need vitimans & minerals. Just living on acid even Mir-acid doesn't cut it. To have a healthy tree it should be on a some-what feeding program. And it'll be a happy camper and you'll be too recieving the fruit from it's bounty:)***Suzanne

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 9:07AM
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Above you mention that I need to totally rethink my citrus care but only point to two things.

As I water I thoroughly soak the pot by having it sit in a bucket of water and fill the bucket to the level of the soil. I have not been flushing the pot with water as is mentioned in both posts above. As this will also wash out the organic matter in the soil should I do this at every watering?

The little that I have read into this coffee it self is a weak liquid fertilizer, like a compost tea. While I am not finding much hard data on this most sources are saying that coffee, as we know, is acidic and keep mentioning that it is a good source of nitrogen. I have been thinking about using coffee as a compost tea option because, at least for the next few months, I am a broke college student. Even the $5 box of azaila food represents a few meals to me.

I have not been feeding this plant as it is currently winter and most of what I have seen point at not feeding through the dormancy. Should I feed over winter? I can see that it is root bound  roots not creeping out of the drain hole but clearly present. This will be re potted come spring. Right now I am pumping as much light over these as I can. They sit in front of my only window (SW facing) and have a 24" florescent tube hung just above the foliage with adequate reflectors.

Over thanksgiving I went away and was held over at my moms for a few days so both my lime and avocado were really dry when I got back, though the larger 'cado did not dry out enough to drop leafs.

As posted in the Starbucks cmoposting page

Nitrogen 1.45%
Phosphorus ND ug/g
Potassium 1204 ug/g

Calcium 389 ug/g
Magnesium 448 ug/g
Sulfur high ug/g

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 6:56PM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

I could also tell you that you can make a compost of coffee grounds,and veggie and fruit scraps and ground up egg shells,add some potting soil, tea bags, rotted leaves,grass clippings, and let it sit and compost itself. This would make a wonderful soil to repot your citrus in when comes the time to do so. Also..I'm not being sarcastic when I do say,that maybe by cutting out a few lattes or what ever you can purchase a box of Azalea food even. Yes, from the coffee ground you can even digg them into the soil and this would help.When you water water throughly,put your citrus tree even in the shower and let the water run on and through it, so as its draining out of the bottom.I happen to be one of the many who believe in feeding year around. And it certainly works for me by my fruit production and the look of my citrus.I don't fertilize as heavy through the winter but I still feed.(4) times a year, a granular citrus food.What you need is a balance because of your water and not the proper kinds of food. And to certainly repot in the spring.***Suzanne

    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 10:53AM
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I removed the uppper soil today from both my avocado and lime -- about an inch from both pots -- and mixed it with grounds and some shreded dried leaves that I had and replaced it in the pots. The leaves were those that I found fallen on the floor under both plants. It was probably 4 or 5 parts soil to 1 part grounds.

After digging in this organic matter I ran both under a trickling bath spout to flush the soil. Each had about 30 minutes of water flowing through.

I also rearranged my apartment slightly. This moved the plants down in the window about 4 inches vertivally. With the sight-lines created by the evves and sun position this gives the foliage more natural light when the sun is out.

I've had compost piles before but having one now is not an option. I live in a 330 square foot second story studio apartment. I've thought about worms as I have a lot of green matter (left over kitchen cuttings and iguana food) but I move too often to have an additional box to move.

I have about 6 weeks until I graduate (get my BS-EE) and until then money is REALLY tight. Until I have a job offer I don't have the money for luxeries like fertilizer, eatihg out, bars, pop, store-made coffee, vending machine snacks, etc. In other words there is no "latte factor" in my budget because I've looked for it. In this thread I am looking for other options to store bought fertilizer and I cam use coffee and tea.

When I repot is there any reason to move from the traditional terracotta pot. Either plastic or different shape?

When would be a good time? Would it stress the plant too much to move it outside, when it is warm enough, and repot it at the same time? Should I perhaps repot 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after moving outide so as to allow time to de-stress?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 5:10PM
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bencelest(z9 CA)

I used the coffee grounds before and I have a positive result.
But I don''t depend on it entirely as for fertilizer. I am not sure if watering your lime with coffee grounds will help your plant instantanously. The coffee grounds or the watered coffee must be broken down by the bacteria in the soil before the roots can carry it up to its leaves. Perhaps 2 to 3 months.
I usually mix the coffee grounds on the first 2 inches of soil but I don't use the fallen leaves by the plant as part of the compost. For fear that it bears the bug eggs and deseases that are just dormant that cling to the leaves may just woke up to complete another cycle of their lives.
But my question is why do you have to repot? You also can repot anytime. When repotting, you have to give time for the plant to recover from stress. The roots are not ready yet to perform its function so you have to put your plant under a shade for 3 days or so and gradually put it under the sun. You'll notice the leaves will wilt a little for a couple of days and that's the time it needs shelter from the sun. Once the leaves are perky and turgid you can put it in the sun gradually. I don't touch the old soil at all. After I remove the plant from the old pot I transplant the whole thing to the next bigger pot.
I believe that you can grow your lime OK even if you don't use fertilizer once the coffee grounds broke down into humus. It needs some micro nutrients but hey, you only have 1 plant so why buy the expensive stuff. And you said you are not up financially.
When I was a kid I don't even know what a fertilizer is. I just put any plant in any soil and they live and they are green. And I was happy I created a new life.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 10:50AM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

Fog...now your on the right track.You did give your plants something to chew on!LOL! It doen't matter which kind of pot you use when you repot,although the plastic will keep more heat into the plant and it's better for the roots.But at this point in your life use what you have,the next size up.And when the temps are right put your plants out to benefit from the sun.Yes, when you water your plants ...water throughly.Please report back as to how they are doing as this forum is here to help.:)***Suzanne

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 11:53AM
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I can clearly see roots in the drainage hole and from my non-citrus experience that is an indicator of repotting needs. Right now it is in an 8" terracotta pot. I am used to living in Z-4 of northern Michigan where you have to really pay attention to dormancy. The lime is also just coming back from a full leaf drop (thanksgiving) so I don't want to shock it again.

Ultimately I would like to see these two trees, or something like them, as container size patio trees in the 5 or 6 foot tall range. I know this goal is years off. Perhaps to add a ficus to this group but I digress.

When I do spring for the fertilizer should I grab the water soluble or a time release pellet type? This is coupled with the watering thoroughly and washing out the salts and organic matter in the soil. I can see adding the liquid fertilizer as the last step of watering. With the time release wouldn't this washout the pellets quickly and greatly diminish their effects?

I'll post a pic after I restart this computer, explorer has crashed 4 times in the last 15 minutes but my 'net connection is great. Go figure

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 1:03PM
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Here is a current pic of my two plants.

I have the tent flaps over it to hold some humidity to it but the sides don't connect or go all the way to the pots so there is air circulation.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 7:51PM
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Fog, how much humidity do you get in your plastic setup? Does it ever fog, pun, lol, up?
As for the coffee grounds..I wouldn't fear using coffee or tea this time of the year. It's so diluted, nothing compared to chemical or organic fertilizers bought at the store.
Azalia fertilizer works find on citrus. The best time to buy it is fall. You can get a box, that would last a long time considering you only have 1 citrus, for under 3.00. In fact, the last time I purchased some, it was on sale 2 for 3.00 or 1.59 each. The type I buy are granuals, just sprinkle and water.

BTW, did you start the avacado from a pit or buy the plant? I can't get them to root anymore. Had a nice, tall tree but the darn squirrels ate it, pit and all. Toni

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 11:31PM
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bencelest(z9 CA)

You are right, don't put any stress anymore to your lime as of now. When Spring comes before the onset of new growth, you can then transfer it to the same size pot as of your avocado.
Using pellets, granules or water soluble is just one's preference. The plant will accept it with open arms provided the soil is in optimum pH. Otherwise the fertilizer will be on the lock-up stage.
If you want to fertilize it more often use water soluble and if you are lazy just like me use the pellet type that says good for 6 months.
I also thought the way you thought "With the time release wouldn't this washout the pellets quickly and greatly diminish their effects?"
but from my experience, those time release fertilizers were still in the pot (I still see them after 3 months) even after I flush the soil 1 hour or even overnight (when I forgot the water running).
I have a method that works so good for me. Any ailments that I see on my plant weather be it yellowing of leaves, leaves that warped, leaves that droop or closed or shriveled, I flush the soil thoroughly I mean drenched them. Usually my plants come up out of its sickness. And then when I see that they are healthy again I start fertilizing them gradually.
The fertilizer that washed out is minimal when you drenched your plant, but once more important is to flush out the salts in the soil than retaining the old fertilizer.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 10:10AM
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Ben, what's the difference between pellets and granuals? Where can I find both? I'd like to see a picture of each type..Thanks, Toni

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 7:24PM
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bencelest(z9 CA)

Go to Google and type granules and then pellet, you'll see pictures of both and the difference. Really I don't see the difference between them. Pelletise I believe shaped like a pellet as in BB gun bullet and granules are like oversized coffee grounds.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 2:15AM
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