I know coffee can be used as a natural (and organic) fertilizer for gardens and even coffee plants. So, I am trying to collect grounds to start my spice and veggie garden this spring and was wondering if anyone has tips on how to keep and store the grounds.

I have been saving the grounds from the bottom of the presses around the office daily and using burlap to filter the grounds, but have noticed mold growing on the grounds/burlap. So, I've got a few questions, i was hoping could be answered...

Will the mold affect the grounds as a fertilizer?
What the best way to collect and store the grounds after brewing? And do they need to be fully dried before storing? If so, what has worked for you?

Any input is appreciated. Thanks.

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Most of my customers who collect grinds from our cafes compost them before adding them as a plant fertiliser. One customer in particular has told me that the grinds for sure should be composted with leaves and other organic matter before use. I am no expert at all on gardening, would like to see others input to guide me as well when asked about this issue by customers
Hi Matt.

The best way to use coffee grounds in the garden, in my opinion, is as a component of compost. Composting helps mellow them out, and adding other things to them (grass clippings, dry leaves, kitchen scraps) helps round the nutrients out and balance the pH.

That said, they are a fine worked in to the soil as-is in smaller quantities (an inch thick layer or so). Best do it at least several weeks before planting to give things time to mellow and meld and give the bugs time to work on them. If you have poorly drained soil they will help lots. Don't just put them on top, unless you like the prospect of smelling stale coffee every time the sun shines on your garden. Learned that the hard way :) Dig them in or put them under a mulch layer.

Mold will not affect their value as fertilizer that I'm aware of.

The rule of thumb for compost moisture content is that it should be approximately the same as a well-wrung sponge. Wetter than that will cause problems (stinky), dryer than that and it won't happen. So I'd say as long as you were dealing with moderately dry grounds you should be fine. Think spent pucks. Storage-wise, I usually add them to my compost bin. Any sort of covered outdoor can or lidded big bucket should do fine. At the shop we have a collection of lidded 5 gallon mud buckets that we use.

In terms of starting your garden, I'd consider adding both grounds and commercial compost (or well-rotted manure) in a layer at least 3 inches thick and working both well into the soil, especially if your soil isn't all that great. As soon as you can work the soil.

Good luck.
Brady, thanks! I've been wondering about this too. What about coffee liquid (without dairy or sugar). We learned about how you can collect the day's bad shots and left over brew coffee to determine waste (needed in new shops). So I was wondering if I could pour this out on plants during a watering as extra nutrition. We have really poor soil around our place. Do you know what plants like a PH caused by coffee (I'm guessing it would be acidic). I've tried putting grounds around out willow tree and hydrangea at home but although it reduced slugs and ants on the willow it didn't turn my hydrangea blue liked I hoped.
I had a boss once who only ever watered the plant in her office with her leftover black coffee every day. It was the happiest plant in the office... with no natural light. I'm sure not all plants are like this, but there are some that enjoy their daily cuppa joe!

Denise Smith said:
Brady, thanks! I've been wondering about this too. What about coffee liquid (without dairy or sugar). We learned about how you can collect the day's bad shots and left over brew coffee to determine waste (needed in new shops). So I was wondering if I could pour this out on plants during a watering as extra nutrition. We have really poor soil around our place. Do you know what plants like a PH caused by coffee (I'm guessing it would be acidic). I've tried putting grounds around out willow tree and hydrangea at home but although it reduced slugs and ants on the willow it didn't turn my hydrangea blue liked I hoped.
My Dad's secretary did that... when they all went decaf the plant died!

Adrian Badger said:
I had a boss once who only ever watered the plant in her office with her leftover black coffee every day. It was the happiest plant in the office... with no natural light. I'm sure not all plants are like this, but there are some that enjoy their daily cuppa joe!

Denise Smith said:
Brady, thanks! I've been wondering about this too. What about coffee liquid (without dairy or sugar). We learned about how you can collect the day's bad shots and left over brew coffee to determine waste (needed in new shops). So I was wondering if I could pour this out on plants during a watering as extra nutrition. We have really poor soil around our place. Do you know what plants like a PH caused by coffee (I'm guessing it would be acidic). I've tried putting grounds around out willow tree and hydrangea at home but although it reduced slugs and ants on the willow it didn't turn my hydrangea blue liked I hoped.
Smart plant.
I love composting! It's the way to go!

...ok it depends what you are composting. I baristed at a store in a city where the grinds were usually thrown which made me feel guilty luckly she had two big plants outside the store so I started to take the wet and dry ginds and mix them with the soil. The plant didn't look any better or any worse.
That's funny, the plant became another coffee junkie

Denise Smith said:
My Dad's secretary did that... when they all went decaf the plant died!

Adrian Badger said:
Composting coffee is great. It is high in acid, so if you have a lot add some ash from your BBQ grill (if you use charcoal) to balance the Ph. Coffee in uncomposted form liquid or ground is a very effective natural insecticide. As far as storing the grounds get a bucket, punch some holes in the lid and keep it outside. IF you mix in other compost such as leaves and non animal kitchen waste you will get a more balancced result. YOu can also get composting bins from most municipalitites for about $10. They are kinda big but work great. When you start your garden supplement your compost with top soil and/or peat moss. Good luck Gardening is the most rewarding hobby I know of.
I'd agree that the addition of a little wood or natural charcoal ash is probably good, but wouldn't use briquette ash. Too many strange fillers.
You have time for a hobby? I hope I get to that point again someday! ~80)

Jesse -D-> said:
Good luck Gardening is the most rewarding hobby I know of.
Thanks for the info. I am going to build a composting bin this weekend to get the process started...Brady, Jesse, i may call on one of you later in the year for some more advice...

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