Author Topic: Coffee Grounds  (Read 6820 times)

Offline zarfbloot

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 60
  • Karma: 0
  • Apprentice Prepper
Coffee Grounds
« on: August 09, 2014, 06:16:50 AM »
I have always used my personal coffee grounds around the yard and in my compost. I have roughly one cup a day at home so it was a small 2-3 tablespoons worth of grounds I was throwing in.

I work in a fairly large corporate office that provides free coffee to associates in seven different break rooms. I worked out with one of the janitors that handles three of them to start saving the coffee grounds for me. I was amazed and ecstatic when I had 10-15 pounds the first day.. then the second.. then after two weeks my compost had never looked better. It was cooking like it had never before and looked amazing. I thought I had found black gold for the garden. Then I used the compost around the yard and the plants started struggling.

I quickly realized that I may have made a big mistake.. adding all those coffee grounds probably made my compost too acidic. I stopped taking them home and for weeks now feel like they are being wasted at work but might have done more harm than good.

What should I do?

Offline Skunkeye

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1609
  • Karma: 90
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2014, 06:52:07 PM »
Coffee grounds aren't as acidic as people tend to think.  Especially once they're composted, that shouldn't be an issue (the acids in coffee beans are water-soluble, so most are washed out in the brewing process).  The used grounds are almost neutral in pH, and the acids are in the coffee you drink.

I use lots of coffee grounds from local coffee shops in my compost, often 20-30 pounds a week in the fall and winter when I have lots of leaves to use up.  Never had a problem with it.  Perhaps the compost wasn't fully finished when you applied it?  Was it still warm?  Did you add corresponding carbon material to offset the additional nitrogen in your compost bin?  If not, the compost might be too nitrogen-rich. 

Offline Cedar

  • ...just aDD water...
  • TSP Supreme Galactic Ant
  • ************
  • Posts: 28429
  • Karma: 1396
  • Dont wait for the storm to pass, dance in the rain
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2014, 07:00:37 PM »
If you are getting that many, grow Oyster Mushrooms on them. Then when the mushrooms are done flushing, add to the compost, then your plants (like blueberries). Get a triple-play out of them. '

Cedar

Offline reefmarker

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 486
  • Karma: 24
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2014, 09:56:24 PM »
I was getting 5 gallons of grounds every two weeks.  It didn't really hurt anything.  The most amazing thing to me was the filters.  They would be gone in a day if they were turned into the compost pile.  If left exposed they would dry out and not decay.

Got to be careful if you don't work the grounds into the soil or a compost pile or they will mold / fungus up and it smells really bad!

I finally had to stop it due to the massive amounts involved and the mess everyone was making at work saving them for me that I ended up having to clean up.

Offline zarfbloot

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 60
  • Karma: 0
  • Apprentice Prepper
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2014, 09:02:59 PM »
Great thoughts everyone.. I might not have been adding enough organic/brown material to balance it all out. I'll start collecting them again and give that a try!

But reefmarker.. I have to ask: Why are you licking an electrical socket?

Offline reefmarker

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 486
  • Karma: 24
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2014, 09:17:24 PM »
But reefmarker.. I have to ask: Why are you licking an electrical socket?

Is not me!  I am much better looking than that, and much older, and male...

Offline zarfbloot

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 60
  • Karma: 0
  • Apprentice Prepper
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2014, 05:43:04 PM »
Lol...

Offline busymomx3

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 650
  • Karma: 18
  • Starting to get the hang of this.
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2014, 09:00:54 PM »
I've always heard that you can put the coffee grounds right into your garden.  Perhaps you could do that as well.  I would love to find a source of coffee grounds but I'm like you and only drink one cup a day. 

Offline fixer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 15
  • Karma: 2
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2014, 06:34:12 PM »
Coffee grounds are also great to feed to your black soldier fly larvae

Offline goofyshooter

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 314
  • Karma: 5
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2014, 05:23:26 AM »
Is not me!  I am much better looking than that, and much older, and male...


HAHAHA... I was thinking the same question.

Offline redbelliedhound

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 45
  • Karma: 0
  • New TSP Forum member
    • Red Bellied Hound
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2014, 04:36:52 PM »
We drink a lot of coffee in my household.  Some of the coffee grounds end up in the compost and others we just sprinkle around our fruit tree bases.  Since we're not putting the grounds directly into the soil they combine with the soil over time.  It hasn't appeared to do any harm for us.

Also, for those of you wanting coffee grounds that don't drink or don't drink much coffee:  Most coffee shops will give you grounds for free.  I know the Peets and Starbucks in my town and in neighboring towns do this. 

Offline Cedar

  • ...just aDD water...
  • TSP Supreme Galactic Ant
  • ************
  • Posts: 28429
  • Karma: 1396
  • Dont wait for the storm to pass, dance in the rain
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2014, 04:50:23 PM »
I always thought that was you as well Reef.

Cedar

Offline jhull87

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 110
  • Karma: 3
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2014, 04:25:00 PM »
Going off of them not being broke down well enough, I know coffee grounds make great worm food. Maybe there isn't enough of those in your soil yet?

If you are getting that many, grow Oyster Mushrooms on them. Then when the mushrooms are done flushing, add to the compost, then your plants (like blueberries). Get a triple-play out of them. '

Cedar

You said plant blueberries which would suggest high soil acidity. But the quote above you from Skunkeye said they're not really. Do you disagree?

Offline Dan0028

  • Fledgling Prepper
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: 0
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2015, 03:26:14 PM »
What's the opinion on adding spent coffee grounds to an active worm farm? Good or bad

Offline archer

  • Administrator
  • Ultimate Survival Veteran
  • *******
  • Posts: 17112
  • Karma: 380
  • #ImissAmerica
    • Journey to Greener Pastures
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2015, 04:45:19 PM »
Coffee grounds are also great to feed to your black soldier fly larvae

BSF like it? i assume mixed with other wastes then.

Offline R_Morgan

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 400
  • Karma: 40
  • Combat Veteran
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2015, 06:29:48 PM »
What's the opinion on adding spent coffee grounds to an active worm farm? Good or bad
don't make it a majority of what you're throwing in there. And add eggshell/garden lime to the coffee grounds for good measure. I'm getting mondo amounts of coffee grounds from my office and adding it along with my veggies to my worms. No issue

Offline Skunkeye

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1609
  • Karma: 90
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2015, 07:41:44 PM »
BSF like it? i assume mixed with other wastes then.

I've made compost using just coffee grounds and shredded leaves, and the BSF are all over it.  Especially when I used to use a tumbler instead of larger bins, and there wasn't enough mass to get to a really high temperature, I'd open the tumbler to check on it, and it was like something from a horror movie, with all those larvae writhing all over.  I'm not intentionally growing BSF, but they show up anyway, once the compost cools enough for them to live in it.

Offline archer

  • Administrator
  • Ultimate Survival Veteran
  • *******
  • Posts: 17112
  • Karma: 380
  • #ImissAmerica
    • Journey to Greener Pastures
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2015, 02:57:21 PM »
I've made compost using just coffee grounds and shredded leaves, and the BSF are all over it.  Especially when I used to use a tumbler instead of larger bins, and there wasn't enough mass to get to a really high temperature, I'd open the tumbler to check on it, and it was like something from a horror movie, with all those larvae writhing all over.  I'm not intentionally growing BSF, but they show up anyway, once the compost cools enough for them to live in it.

ahh ok. hmm. i want to grow them for chicken feed

Offline cobbweb

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 13
  • Karma: 0
  • "Step in my parlor said the spider to the fly"
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2015, 08:26:50 AM »
As I understand it compost should be roughly 50/50 mix of carbon and nitrogen.  Being a city dweller and newbie backyard gardener I have built a 4x4 compost bin that uses mainly chopped up leaves and coffee grinds.  My question is: should the 50/50 mix of carbon and nitrogen be by weight or volume? I'm guessing It should be something like 5lbs of leaves to 5lbs of coffee grinds. It wouldn't make sense to do a 5 gallon bucket of leaves to a 5 gallon bucket of coffee grinds would it?

Offline Skunkeye

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1609
  • Karma: 90
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2015, 12:48:18 AM »
As I understand it compost should be roughly 50/50 mix of carbon and nitrogen.

It's a bit more complex than that.  What you want is a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio around 30 to 1.  Different materials have different carbon:nitrogen ratios within them.  For example, coffee grounds are about 20:1, dry leaves are about 60:1, and sawdust can be as high as 500:1.  Mixing by weight is problematic, since different materials might have drastically different water content (wet coffee grounds are way heavier than dry ones, for example), and of course, mixing by volume is problematic, too, since some materials are less dense than others. 

The good news is, you don't really have to do any of that math.  Just mix your materials together, turn it regularly to get oxygen in there, and watch it.  If it smells rotten, you have too much nitrogen; add carbon.  If it's not decomposing very quickly, or isn't hot (or at least warm), add more nitrogen.  Keep it evenly damp, not soaking wet.  After a couple of batches, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.  No matter what you do, organic material is going to break down, so you can't really screw it up too badly.   ;)

I don't weigh anything, but I'd guess I probably put about 30-40 pounds of coffee grounds (that's probably around 10 gallons or so by volume) into a cubic-yard-sized bin of shredded leaves and that produces a very hot, very fast compost.  I usually add in some kitchen waste and garden trimmings as I go, depending on what I have available.

Offline cobbweb

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 13
  • Karma: 0
  • "Step in my parlor said the spider to the fly"
Re: Coffee Grounds
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2015, 07:49:20 AM »
Thank you for the response! It makes sense to me now. I'm one of those guys that will research and research a subject until I end confused by the sheer amount of opinions, guides, and FAQ's available online. I've forgotten the basic principles and your post was a great reminder!