It Was Ground This Morning

| 4/30/2015 9:40:00 AM

Susan Slape-HoysagkOregonians love their coffee (and not exclusively, I know). We brew it at home or get it on the run. There are coffee “stands” everywhere, chains and local artisans. Standalone kiosk drive “thrus,” corners of the local grocery market, bookstores, craft stores, public library, gas stations, or even a knife store (totally serious). All kinds (latte, Americano, cappuccino, and the like), flavors, milk types (cow, soy, coconut), and organic or not. Caf or decaf. Single-, double-, or triple-shot. How did coffee get so complicated?

There is simplicity to be found in all this coffee hype and jargon – the lovely leftovers – coffee’s little sister – the wondrous grounds. My dear maternal grandmother saved her stove-top percolator’s grounds, dumping the pot’s basket into an old metal coffee can she kept in a kitchen cupboard. Once full, her garden inherited the dark brown stash. As a child I asked her why she saved what so many simply put in the trash. “For the worms in the garden.”

Worms are very fond of coffee grounds and wonderful for your soil! 

Worms are very fond of coffee grounds and wonderful for your soil!

Maybe she knew or maybe not, but worms are not the only reason to indulge your garden with coffee grounds. The worms do seem to love them, and attracting earthworms (aka nature’s plow) to your soil is great for improving soil structure by loosening the soil, which aids with aeration and water permeability. Never mind the benefits of their super nutrient-rich castings (fancy word for worm poop).

Coffee has a pH of 5 while the spent coffee grounds (SCG) are reported to have a pH of about 6.9 or 6.2. Or 5.2 … or even less. Make up your mind, you say? Not so simple. There are authors and labs sure of their numbers but obviously in conflict. So for now, moderation until I can get back to you with the real scoop. That is if I can find it. I do use grounds in my compost (not more than 10 to 20 percent of the volume), add some to my worm bin, and dig some into the ground around my acid loving plants. Coffee filters can be added into your compost too!

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