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A Coffee Break For Your Garden

The soil in my high-plains garden is nothing like the rich, chocolate cake loam I grew up with in southern Idaho. No, I’ve got two extremes—sandy and dry, and heavy clay. So now I’m constantly on the lookout for free materials to build up my soil. I keep a compost pile by the garden for grass clippings and yard debris, and I haul in manure from my neighbor’s cows every fall.

Recently, though, I’ve started using another soil amendment in my garden—coffee grounds. I don’t drink coffee myself, but my local coffee shop lets me drag away all the coffee grounds I want for free. I love anything free, and I also like the idea of creatively using waste. After all, Starbucks alone generates over 200 million pounds of coffee grounds every year, so finding a way to reuse them is a great idea from a conservation standpoint. If you drink coffee at home, you probably generate as much as 100 pounds of grounds per year.

Even though I don’t drink coffee, I love its earthy smell in my garden. The coffee grounds also seem to accelerate plant growth and improve the texture of my less than ideal soil, but don’t take my word for it. Linda Chalker-White [1], Associate Horticulture Professor at Washington State University, has found the following benefits of coffee grounds in the garden:

Put Your “Garbage” To Work! [2]


Research into the effectiveness of coffee grounds as a soil amendment is still fairly new. Before you cover your entire garden in grounds, consider the following potential downsides to coffee grounds:


If you’re a coffee drinker or you have access to free coffee grounds, go ahead and use them. They’ll add nutrients to your garden, while improving soil texture. Here’s how:

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