Not just a cup of coffee

Though we spend less on our garden now than when I started invading the lawn, we still spent a thousand dollars or so on it each year.  Everything combined it adds up: organic fertilizer, birdfeeder, bird food and new additions to the garden.  If we can cut down expenses without compromising the well being of our little friends and our own sanctuary, we go for it.

Both of us are coffee drinkers.  We no longer count how many gallons or pounds of coffee we consume each year.  What else we can get out of drinking coffee aside from enjoyment and staying awake; a few things for the garden, maybe?

Healthy blueberry after a handful of coffee grounds

If you brew your own coffee at home like we do, you can put the coffee grounds in the compost bin.  It’s a good source of nitrogen.  In fall when there are more dry brown leaves (carbon) than green clipping (nitrogen), coffee grounds are very helpful in keeping the ratio between carbon and nitrogen in the compost bin in check. Coffee is also acidic in nature.  Any acid loving plants like Hydrangea (blue), Blueberry, Azalea and Rhododendron welcome ground coffee added to the soil.  I always sprinkle the grounds in our blueberry pots and around the base of our Hydrangeas.

Don’t dump a lot of it on your plants at once though; moderation is the key.  And, not when it’s still hot out of the basket either.  Leftover coffee, the one you left in the pot because you have to run out of the house in a hurry–no cream, no sugar–is also good for plants, so have them drink it.

Caution! If you have dogs or cats, you’d better put your coffee grounds in the compost bin.  If not, you will have to keep your loving pets away from it.  It’s toxic to them.

Shorter tags in a seedling tray

If you get your coffee from café or coffee house, look for wooden stirrers.  Anything you can stick in your food and in your mouth should be ok to stick in the ground next to your plants.  Why spend money on plant tags when you can get them for free with your latte.  Admittedly I tend to pocket a few extra on each visit.  It’s already included in the price of your coffee anyway.
I use a whole stick for plants in the garden.  I can push it deep into the soil and still have a lot of space to write the plant name.  I cut them in half, with a sharp, diagonal angle, for seedling trays.  They fit perfectly under the cover.  A fine-point Sharpie works well since the ink won’t run when the stick gets wet.  The labeled stick will usually last through a whole season.  When gardening season is over, just break the sticks into small pieces, easier to compost, and throw it in your compost bin.

Garden tags in use

Now you and your plants can enjoy that cup of Italian Roasted together.