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coffee ground life

Posted by v1rtu0s1ty Zone 5, Northern IL (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 28, 07 at 18:52

Ok folks, I was able to established a good rapport with the star bucks folks. They're really friendly. It's my second day today to pick up 2 bags of coffee grounds(yesterday 3). Actually, the manager asked my name. He will collect all used coffee grounds starting this afternoon until Monday for me. Then, I'll just pick it up anytime on Monday. And he also told me that I can get anytime I like. :D

So, when is the perfect time to apply coffee grounds? I have seen other threads here and they mention that they apply it in fall. So assuming it will be in fall, will the coffee ground I got today still be effective? I'm also thinking that since it's organic, I can apply it anytime.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Ron


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: coffee ground life

When is the perfect time to apply coffee grounds? I prefer daytime, because it's easier to see where I've already thrown them.

I apply them just about any time, except when there's snow on the ground and when it's really hot out. I'd apply them when it's hot out, also, but my wife doesn't like the smell when it's hot. During the summer and winter, they go in my compost instead.

I put them down as soon as I get them. I used to spread them by the "flingem" method, where I'd grab a handful at a time and flingem around the lawn, but now, I just open the bag and swing it back and forth while walking backwards around the lawn. The next time I get more grounds, I pick up where I left off. I just keep going around the lawn spreading the grounds until it's too hot or there's too much snow.

As far as stockpiling them goes, I wouldn't do that. They'll probably get moldy, and maybe slimy and smelly. Also, if you stockpile them, there's more of a chance that you'll get a layer that is too thick. When they're too thick, they can repel water


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RE: coffee ground life

Oh, that means, I should apply it tomorrow. Is it fine since tomorrow, it's going to be 80F?


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RE: coffee ground life

I would apply them tomorrow.

The only reason I don't put the coffee grounds down in the middle of the summer is that my wife doesn't like the smell. I think it got up to 85 today, and she hasn't complained about the grounds I put down today.

They also seem to break down faster when it's warm out. I put some coffee grounds down after the cold weather hit, and when the snow cleared, I could still see a lot of the grounds. I can hardly see any traces of grounds that I put down two weeks ago.

One thing with coffee grounds (and most other organics) is that you don't need to be as concerned with an absolutely even distribution the way you do with chemical fertilizers. If I apply some 21-0-0, I make sure I use a spreader, set it at half the recommended setting and make two passes in different directions to make sure I apply it as evenly as possible. With coffee grounds, I just toss them around, usually taking a few weeks to over the entire lawn.


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RE: coffee ground life

Thank you very much!


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RE: coffee ground life

I'm sure that I'm not going to make many friends with what follows but here goes. Unless you have no money to spend on your lawn, collecting and distributing coffee grounds is a huge waste of effort. If you have no money, it can't hurt but I'm not sure that it will help.

I'm prepared to debate the above if you are.

-Deerslayer


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RE:coffee ground life

Nope, money isn't an issue. In fact, I'm going to buy 200 lbs of SBM and 100-200 lbs of Alfalfa meal. I have also just spent making my ACT brewer but I'm going to return it since I'm thinking of going to a larger setup.

I think I have a wrong thinking that there are other nutrients that our grass can get from coffee ground. If there isn't any additional nutrients, I'm going to trash this route.

So yep, no need for debate. :)

Thank you very much again.


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RE: coffee ground life

Deerslayer--I'm not sure I follow your reasoning. I have some money, but I don't see the need to waste it.

There are two Starbucks that are on my way. I stop and pick up grounds if they have them. I then strew them on my lawn. I don't buy SBM, corn meal or alfalfa. I spread coffee grounds when I have them. If the grounds are in the bigger bags, I toss them in the compost. It takes about 5 minutes a week and very little effort.

If I were driving out of my way or spending a lot of time, it would be one thing, but I stop in, grab the grounds, sometimes buy a cup of coffee and leave. I then go home and throw the grounds on the lawn. What in that is huge? It would take a lot more time to get to a farm supply store to buy grains, although that would have the added benefit of costing more money, using more gas and proving that I don't need free fertilizer. I don't see how spending less time, money and energy amounts to a huge waste of effort.

Ron--To your question of the nutrients in coffee grounds, Here's an article from Sunset magazine.

If it's not convenient for you to get the coffee grounds, then by no means don't do it. For a long time, I didn't have easy access to coffee grounds. I didn't use them then. But I see no reason to stop using them, and I really don't see how they can be considered a huge waste of effort. Actually, I fail to see how it's any waste of effort.


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RE: coffee ground life

Great article bpgreen. Starbucks is close to my house. It's even on my way when going to office or going home.


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RE: coffee ground life

If it's on the way, I don't see it as a huge waste.

Stop by, pick up the grounds and leave. You can buy something if you're so inclined, but there's no need to feel obligated.

You're actually doing them a bigger favor than they're doing you. I first read of the "Grounds for Gardens" on a financial website (not a gardening site), and the thrust of the article was how much this would save on trash removal costs.

What I do is stop in and check for grounds. If they have them, I take all they have. If they don't have many, I ask if there are more behind the counter and tell them they don't need to put them in the silver bags (this saves them work). Whether I get grounds or not, I thank them.

At one Starbucks, they told me that they tried to crumble the "hockey pucks" and they always removed the filters. I told them that the filters are paper and will compost fine, and there's no need to crumble the pucks. I rarely get filters (I think this depends on location), but when I do, I just pick them up off the lawn and add them to the compost bin. I don't worry about the pucks on the lawn--they don't last.


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RE: coffee ground life

  • Posted by rdak z5MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 29, 07 at 6:59

Deerslayer: Why do you feel coffee grounds aren't very beneficial?

I've only used them a couple of times, and in very small amounts, so I really don't know much about coffee grounds.


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RE: coffee ground life

Coffee grounds are a very mild fertilizer. They have a similar NPK profile as grass clippings (1.5-.3-.3). If you mulch mow, consider the amount of grass clippings that you return to the soil. I bet it's multiples of the coffee grounds that you apply.

Very large amounts of coffee grounds are needed to have the same impact as other organic alternatives. For example, 200 lbs of SBM is equivalent to about a half ton of coffee grounds. Collecting and spreading a half ton of material takes a significant amount of time even if a Starbucks is conveniently located.

-Deerslayer


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Yeah, no way I would spend the time to spread coffee grounds. I would only use them in the garden. For that matter, I've sworn off alfalfa and cottenseed meals just because they can be pure frustration to spread once the humidity starts to climb.


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RE: coffee ground life

Deerslayer misses the point entirely.

Of course one could find a fertilizer, organic or synthetic, with higher numbers. Coffee grounds are a very good soil amendment and worms love them. Over time coffee grounds will improve the soil and increase the activity of worms and other beneficial microbes which will definitely improve the soil.


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RE: coffee ground life

Tarheel misses the point entirely.

There are better alternatives.

-Deerslayer


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RE: coffee ground life

Clearly I have a much smaller lawn than you. If I had to collect half a ton of grounds for my lawn, I would probably agree with you. I've only got 4k sq ft, and I only spread grounds on half of the lawn.

From what I've read, over the course of a growing season, grass clippings return about 1 lb of N per 1k sq ft. Over the course of that same growing season, I get 3 or 4 lbs of N per 1k sq ft from coffee grounds. You're right that the clippings give me a multiple of the N that the grounds do, but the multiple is between .25 and .33.

The minimal P and K aren't a problem for me--the soil here has enough of those naturally.

It would take me more time and effort to get the SBM. It would also cost more money (and I acknowledge that you have already stated that's not a bad thing) and use more gas. For me the huge waste of effort would be the SBM. The coffee grounds are far easier.

If SBM is less effort for you, by all means use it. Coffee grounds are less effort for me, so I'll continue to use them.


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RE: coffee ground life

So you're saying that you spread between 400 and 533 lbs of coffee grounds over 2,000 sq ft per season, correct? A person with a 10,000 sq ft lawn (less than 1/4 acre), would need a ton of coffee grounds for 3 lbs of N and 1.33 tons for 4 lbs of N. IMO, that's impractical for most people.

-Deerslayer


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RE: coffee ground life

Ease of procurring and lack of cost both make coffee grounds a viable alternative to traditional meals. Depending on the needs of the soil is the question of whether it would be enough. Other amendments may be needed.

It wouldn't be fare to compare them to grass clippings because they're very diverse food sources and feed entirely different sets of organisms. Grass clippings are green matter and great bacterial food while UCG are great at feeding and developing fungi.

It's not always about Nitrogen. Usually diversity needs to be addressed. If it's free and on the way home there's no harm done. Usually grass clippings are enough to maintain a more than adequate supply of bacteria. Let's face it, bacteria can be grown while standing on our heads. It's the other meals (most of them) that support our fragile fungi and without them the bacteria don't have a prayer. UCG address a different set of fungi than does soybean meal or corn meal. Whether or not that particular strain is benneficial can only be told through expensive testing. So we take the cheaper and safe route and diversify our amendments to address as many different fungi as possible.

I don't use coffee grounds, wonder if I should?

Greenjeans


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RE: coffee ground life

I have a Starbucks conveniently located to my home but there is no way that I can justify the effort to accumulate a couple tons of coffee grounds and spread them on my lawn each season. The numbers just don't work for me.

If people have a very small lawn, coffee grounds may be a viable alternative but only if little value is placed on time.

My goal isn't to stop everyone from using coffee grounds. My goal is to help folks understand that very large quantities are needed and that there are organic alternatives that are better in most cases. Greenjeans, you mentioned that you don't use coffee grounds so you appear to agree with me.

I haven't seen any studies that indicate that coffee grounds provide beneficial organisms that can't be obtained using other organic materials.

BTW, I also think that ACT is over-hyped but that's a topic for another thread.

-Deerslayer


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RE: coffee ground life

What's UGC?


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RE: coffee ground life

"What's UGC?"

I'm guessing you meant UCG. UCG stands for Used Coffee Grounds.


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RE: coffee ground life

  • Posted by okcdan 7 Oklahoma City (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 30, 07 at 19:31

I use UCG, but only because it's easy and free. They're not all I use, in fact, it's just a very small percentage of organic matter I add to the soil in which my turfgrass grows. At my house, we have a pot (1) each day. I used to throw out those grounds. Now, I just save them and add them into the spreader with my soybean meal when I fertilize. It's just a little more organic matter to add than if I wasn't adding them. I don't even want to imagine the work involved in attempting to feed my N hog bermuda exclusively with UCG.

My 2 cents

Good day, Dan


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RE: coffee ground life

every little bit helps...coffee is a soil amendment plain and simple. improved soil= improved turf. it may take several seasons but it works...patience is the most important aspect of lawn care! :)

corn is also considered a mild fertilizer. i had several arguments in the past over the benefits of corn for turf. The first observation i made about a month after experimenting applying corn was that for the first time ever, my lawn was a consistent green throughout. mild fertilzer or otherwise, the corn brought my lawn into 'balance'. Coffee would achieve the same result.


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RE: life....

my simple response to the coffee ground life question would be until they decompose. ;)


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For me, the coffee grounds make sense. Deerslayer and I came up with the same figures for the amount of grounds--an average of 10 lbs per week all year, or more realistically, 20 lbs per week for half of the year. I spread them while walking around the lawn looking for weeds (I'd do that anyway). I collect them when I drive by one of two Starbucks.

Another thing that I have to consider is how low my soil is in organic matter. Adding many more pounds of coffee grounds than SBM means that I don't need to add those pounds of wood chips, compost, etc.

So, for me, it takes no time I wouldn't be spending anyway, and it takes no money. Since the feed store is out of the way, it would be more of a hassle for me to get feed. There's one thing I buy there (Dionne Udder Balm is one of the best hand lotions I've ever found), so the next time I run out, I'll probably get some SBM. Until then, I'll use coffee grounds. But if I had a large lawn, coffee grounds wouldn't make much of a dent.


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BPGreen, I agree that coffee grounds may be your best alternative. However, your particular situation isn't mainstream. All I'm saying is that for most folks better alternatives exist and/or their lawn care time could be used more efficiently.

-Deerslayer


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RE: coffee ground life

Deerslayer--I think we are more in agreement than disagreement. In fact, I linked to this thread from the lawn forum because you made valid points.

I've used coffee grounds in compost and around trees for decades. I've only recently had enough to spread on the lawn.

I've been an enthusiastic proponent of Starbucks UCG. In retrospect, I now fear I've contributed to unrealistic expectations. I've operated under the assumption that people could (and would) do the math and figure out how much it would take to provide enough N to help.

If I had a 10K sq ft lawn, I would probably still spread coffee grounds, but I wouldn't view it as replacing fertilizer, or maybe as replacing no more fertilizer than mulch mowing.

Greenjeans--If you have a Starbucks handy, I'd use the grounds. Even if they don't replace a single round of fertilizer, they're still adding some OM. If it's a hassle to collect and/or spread the grounds, don't do it.


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RE: coffee ground life

Well, I hate Starbucks coffee because it's burnt-tasting, but they are great at giving away the grounds. Recycling at whatever level is a help.

We drink a lot of coffee at home and use a Melita system with non-bleached paper filters. I throw the used filters, grounds and all, into the empty coffee cans (along with other kitchen scraps - no meat or fat, of course), then every couple of weeks, dump the whole mess into the compost bin. (since the coffee cans seal completely, there is no smell in the house) They break down surprisingly fast. We have half and acre, and I imagine that would take quite of bit of help from Starbucks to cover. But what's the biggie if someone wants to do it? To each her own.

Happy gardening, all!


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RE: coffee ground life

So I recently stopped by my local Starbucks on the way home from work (2 blocks from my house). I walking in and sheepishly asked the teen at the counter if they had any used coffee grounds, expected to get the deer-in-headlights look that I would have given if I was in her place. Instead she pointed over to a bucket in the corner that held about 40lbs of grounds in 3 separate backs and thanked me for taking them. I was in and out in under a minute, chucked the bags in the trunk of my car and went home.

I put on some latex gloves to prevent staining and proceeded to start the spreading. I started off like I was spreading bread crumbs, realized it would take all day, and got to flinging. My front yard is about 1500sq ft, so I stood at the base of the yard and like a dog digging a hole proceeded to grab 2-handfuls of grounds and fling them up the yard. Yes my wife and neighbors must think I'm crazy (I just finished putting down about 1/4" of top soil and then brooming it in). This pretty evenly spread out the grounds and I was done in less then 10 minutes.

Let me tell you, I grabbed a beer and sat outside for half an hour just smelling my lawn (I love the smell of coffee though I don't care for the taste too much). It was after dinner and many people walk around with dogs/babies, and it was hilarious to see them kind of turn there head around when walking past since it was impossible to miss the coffee smell.

Next morning the smell was gone and you had to look hard to see any clumps (some of the expresso shot discs they make didn't break upon impact but they should dissolve on the first rain).

I've stopped back 2 other times and gotten probably another 30-60lbs, so I've put down near 100lbs in the last week. I think I'll give it another couple weeks and then stop by again.

All in all, for minimal work I was able to very mildly fertilize my front yard, make it smell nice, and most importantly for me add a top-dressing that should help with my slightly eroded surface.

I figure every month or so grab a couple bags and I wouldn't be surprised if I don't over the course of the season put down 300-500lbs or more of grounds.

Waste of effort? Not for me.


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RE: coffee ground life

I've been a big proponent of used coffee grounds. I get them every chance I get from Starbucks or other coffee houses.

There are plenty of benefits. First, it is organic material being added to my soil. My soil is heavy clay, and any organic material is good.

Second, it is a great way to give my compost pile a good shot in the arm. I can always see an increase in temperature after adding some grounds.

Third, and possibly the most important for me, is that I am diverting the coffee grounds from the dump. This is good organic material, and it should be used- not buried under a pile of plastic.

Sure, this might not be the most efficient way to fertilize my lawn. But I'd rather spend a few hours each month collecting grounds, putting them in my compost bin, my vegetable beds and my lawn, than spreading ammonium sulfate, and sitting down to watch TV.


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RE: coffee ground life

Here is the thing for me. I don't frequent Starbucks on a daily or weekly basis (I do enjoy it maybe once a month).

But, if you spend five minutes at a store stopping in and getting it, and putting it out at your house, say that is 10 minutes for two stores a week (and to get much I was going to 2 or 3 stores a couple times a week), is over 3.5 hours over six months.

For me, going down twice a year, as I do, and buying a pickup load of composted cottonseed burs is much cheaper and easier. The cheaper for me comes from the fact that it was not on my usual way home from work.


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Coffee grounds make a good fertilizer all by themselves. Putting them into compost is a waste of good protein.


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RE: coffee ground life

Coffee grounds have a pH of 5. I save all my coffee grounds and spread than around my acid-loving blueberries and gardenias each week. I'm surprised to learn that they work well on lawns!


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RE: coffee ground life

Cindy--Do you have a link to a report that shows the pH of 5 for used grounds? Everything I've read on the matter says that nearly all of the acidity ends up in the coffee and that the grounds are close to neutral (around 6.5 pH).


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RE: coffee ground life

You can find web sites that list the pH of coffee grounds at being anywhere from 5. something to 7.0, but the most reliable information I have is that the pH is between 6.5 and 6.8. Having seen what lots of coffee grounds have done for plants that prefer an acidic soil (chlorosis) it is not a good idea to use them on those plants. While coffee grounds can be spread on soil the most bestest thing to do is compost them first which will help make the nutrients available to more plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: pH of Coffee Grounds


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RE: coffee ground life

The next time I get more grounds, I pick up where I left off. I just keep going around the lawn spreading the grounds until it's too hot or there's too much snow.

Lisa11


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Coffee grounds keep the cats out! All my beds have cat fudge in them, except the ones with coffee grounds spread in them. Thats enough for me right there....


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ok so I understand a few ppl think coffe grounds are a waste of time and effort, but I have a yard I am responcible for and do not want to spend money on fertalizing since I won't be here more than 2 more years so my question is; how often should I spread the grounds?


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RE: coffee ground life

One of the fun things about organic fertilizers is you can use them any day of the year, or every day of the year. It is hard to do it wrong. Free coffee grounds make it even more fun.

When I first started with GW, there was a lady in Vancouver who used coffee grounds exclusively to fertilize her lawn. She post photos which showed her lawn to be dramatically darker green and thicker than her neighbors.


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RE: coffee ground life

"how often should I spread the grounds?"

As often as you get them

depending on the size of the lawn, that may be more than enough. I was fertilizing exclusively with coffee grounds until I switched to a native lawn (no fertilizer needed).

I would spread what I had, make note where I finished, then start there the next time I got grounds.


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I run 3 starbucks and just to let you guys know, we appreciate the use. As stated above the ewaste is huge and up until recently we have debated if the intrest in using ucg is worth our effort in collecting and providing it to our customers. Also stated above mold and non intrest make it less appealing for us as well. As to the amounts one of my stores can provide between 35 to 40 lbs of UCG a day so close to 100 between the 3 stores. Your interest in and use of does make an impact folks. If for no other reason then keeping it out of the trash. Just thought I'd chime in :)


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RE: coffee ground life

CJDLF--Thanks for your input. I first read about Grounds for the Garden in the financial pages. Starbucks generates a lot of waste, whether measured by weight or volume. If they can give it away, it's obviously much cheaper than if they pay to have it hauled. And it benefits both parties.


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RE: coffee ground life

Will I get the same effect if I spread UNused coffee grinds on my lawn instead of Used coffee grinds?


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