Coffee Grounds in the garden

Coffee Grounds Fertilize Tomatoes!!

Picture of Shane Genziuk Hi all – This is our second post written specially for Ground to Ground, and is a topic dear to my heart – used coffee grounds! Jessy is our guest writer, and has been using coffee grounds for some time. It is really encouraging to have this kind of involvement from you gardening folk, and I extend the offer to anyone that has skills and experience to share. Enjoy – Shane.

Used Coffee Grounds as an Alternative Fertilizer

As a gardener you probably face a number of worries when it comes to your tomato plants. Bugs and animals, people walking through your soil, weather and climate conditions, and fertilizing. If you have been using pesticides and fertilizers from the store, I have news for you: there is a better way! You can get lush and beautiful tomato plants using all natural ingredients found at home. Namely, coffee grounds.

coffee grounds fertilizer

Used coffee grounds make some of the best fertilizer around. Containing nutrients that support healthy plants, acids and nitrogen, the soil will become the perfect habitat for this lovely red fruit. It will also repel insects and slugs, which are usually very attracted to the promise of a juicy tomato to burrow into. The only critter it will attract is the worm, and you want those living in your soil.

There is another benefit to using coffee grounds, and that is environmental. Pesticides and fertilizers created in factories and sold in stores are more harmful than you might realize. First you have the general damage it does to the environment, and you will actually find it doesn’t help make your soil healthy so much as it banishes anything that will keep your plants from growing.

Second, it impacts on local insects and animal life. While you want to keep slugs and other pests from your tomato plants, you don’t want to kill them. You have a functioning ecosystem working in your garden. If everything begins to die, then that lifecycle can’t function. The natural system relies on balance throughout the cycle.

Third, there is the packaging. Not only do you have the container that the fertilizer or pesticide comes in, but you have the packaging those packages come in. Transport, stocking, then transportation…a lot of resources are used. You can cut down a huge amount of waste by shifting to organic gardening.

How To Use Coffee Grounds for Tomato Plants

Tomato Seedlings fertilized

You don’t have to add the coffee all at once. Instead, you should add grounds a few times a week to your top soil, and the amount will depend on the size of your gardening space. For a general idea, if you have a large pot with two or three tomato plants, you would add in about a scoop and a half to two scoops worth of grounds a week. The same amount would be used in a garden, so that amount for every couple of plants. Most of us drink at least this much coffee, so I would suggest collecting it in a spare, empty tin to use over time.

tomato fertilized with coffee grounds

Sometimes I also use old coffee itself for the tomato plants. When I go out to water them, if I have a pot of cooled coffee I am not planning to finish, I will pour some of this on the plants. Of course, it has to be cold and if it is too thick I would suggest adding some extra water. I wouldn’t do this too often, maybe a few times a month.

tomatoes ripen with fertiliser

If you are seeing an effect but not as much as you would like, you can always add in more coffee grounds and adjust over time. The condition of your soil, the climate, the size of the plants and other factors can interfere. Luckily, because it is an organic fertilizer you aren’t likely to see any negative results if you use too much or too little. So you can find what works for you.

Other Organic Fertilizers

Making compost is a great way to help your soil. Some other good choices for organic fertilizer are egg shells and new or old milk, as well as old coffee with milk in it. Some old teas are also alright. I have a friend who opens tea bags and mixes them in with the coffee grounds, though I have no idea how well it works.

Sometimes people even use other vegetables and fruits, or peels. If you put it all together and let it rot a bit (somewhere there won’t be a smell), it can help break down into the soil. There are plenty of websites that offer advice on how to make compost this way, and what items work the best.

Jessy is creative blogger and geeky gardener.

What are you using to fertilize your tomatoes?

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58 thoughts on “Coffee Grounds Fertilize Tomatoes!!

  1. I just transplanted my ft I’m a to plants and they all have yellow leaves. What is causing this and what do I do?
    I have coffee grounds and egg shells to fertilize them with, but I wanted to check w/you first.
    The you for a year help concerning this.
    Carol

    • Hi Carol, If you just moved them then it might be they need to start drawing nutrients from the soil. How is the soil – is it dry or wet? Any bugs on the plants? What did you have planted in that spot previously?

  2. This is a good idea, and I love reusing the coffee grounds in my compost, but my concern with adding them directly to the soil is an over abundance of nitrogen, and of soil acidity/PH levels.

    Many plants can be burned by this, and an overabundance of nitrogen can lead to explosive growth in the ‘shrubbery’ but little to no fruit, especially depending on which stage of growth you apply the fertilizer to. This is why many store made fertilizers say that you should fertilize only early on etc. I am certainly not a professional gardener or botanist, but this is just general knowledge I’ve read about continuously over the years.

    Any thoughts?

    • From my experience with coffee grounds, the nitrogen within them is not directly absorbed into the plants, which means they act more as a slow release fertilizer than like those commercial fertilizers. However, when your tomatoes start to set fruit then slow down on any kind of nitrogen additive. Swap for seaweed and urine!

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  4. Hi, I just planted my tomato plants yesterday and would like to know how soon I can start fertilizing them with coffee grounds. Thanks so much!!!

  5. May be too late to post response to this BER problem, but crushed antacid tablets (buy colorless type from HEB grocery) and mix into soil. It stops blossom end rot on tomatoes and green peppers as well. Only thing I’ve ever had luck with. And, I only needed one application to counter the BER problem.

  6. Maybe too late to comment on this (just discovered blog), however, I use crushed antacid tablets (HEB grocery colorless type), crushed in motar/pestle and applied to Green Peppers and Tomatoes as they both get BER. Learned this on internet some year ago and it works better than anything else I’ve ever tried. Besides the tablets are cheap.

  7. Thanks for the blog! I use coffee grounds on my Elephant plant… It’s a nitrogen hog. I was looking at my tomato plants that I planted late in pots… I’m going to go put 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds on them… How about on leaf lettuce??

    • Should go fine with the lettuce, just keep an eye on any mould as a result of laying down the grounds getting onto the leaves. Otherwise make into a compost first and then get that on the plants.

      Great to hear from you!

  8. Hi, I’m planning to grow some herbs such as Mint, Thyme, Basil, Corriander etc., Would coffee and Tea grounds be good to them as well. Please suggest more ideas.

    Friend of mine already using coco peat instead of soil. Can I use coco peat and coffee/tea grounds ?

    Thanks,
    Kam

    • Hi there Kam – let me point you to an earlier post of mine about coffee grounds and herbs here. Some info is covered there and have mentioned coffee grounds being a good addition to every herb I’ve grown, which includes the 4 you have listed.
      As for coco peat, why not use them both? The peat has a high carbon to nitrogen ratio (80-100:1) , while coffee grounds are more like 20-24:1. This should break down over time to give you an excellent substrate for growing herbs.

  9. Want a lot of tomatoes? X3- X4 the normal amount? Have you ever looked up about watering your tomatoes with watered down pee water? Google it even if you don’t try it.

  10. I grew tomatoe plants this year from my seeds from last year, they look wonderful and tall. I see buds on each, but haven’t opened up. I put coffee growns, miracle grow and tomatoe food. I planted them The 12th of May. I live in Cincinnati Ohio. What could be wrong?

    • I had to wait about the same amount of time to see the fruit set off the buds, so give it a couple more week and it should be fine. Also would not hurt to lay off the nitrogen for now and wait until the fruit is developing before adding more.

    • As an organic fertilizer manufacturer, my first thought would be, if you are wanting to grow “home grown” tomatoes, why would you use synthetic fertilizer? There are SO many other alternatives. Look for pelletized poultry litter fertilizers in your area. I think that Chickadee do do would be available where you are.

  11. I am about to try using coffee grounds for my Amelia tomato plant. I’ve been using Miracle-Grow. Can you give some tips about combining these two? For added information, I live in Laurel, Mississippi and only have one plant because I wasn’t sure if I could grow tomatoes but I have been having great success. My plant is about 5 feet tall and has 24 tomatoes on it now and at least 25 more blooms. Any information you could send me would be appreciated.

    • Hi Diane. I’d suggest you lay down half an inch of coffee grounds around the plant , then use the Miracle-Grow as normal. Give it a couple of weeks and see how the plant responds.
      Those coffee grounds will slow release nitrogen for some time so hopefully it does very well with that treatment.
      Please let me know how it goes.

  12. Hi. A can you use decaf coffee or is regular coffee best? also, I just found this post and my plants are already in the ground for a few days. Will it hurt if I addition to the soil now?

    • No will not matter if you are using deCaf as it will break down all the same. As for those new plants, you are good to add some to the soil- just a handful, then in anOther week add a couple more. Best of luck with and thank you for stopping by.

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  20. Great ideas for reusing coffee grounds and naturally fertilizing our tomato plants. I stumbled the post for you so hopefully others can read this useful gardening tip. Best wishes and thanks to Shane for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

    • Wow you bet. I’ve had almost 500 hits on this page due to your stumble, so please COME BACK AND STUMBLE MORE :)

      In Melbourne we are heading into Spring now, and about to start getting the seedlings ready. There will be plenty of use for coffee grounds at my place.

      Enjoyed visiting your site also Recycle Cindy!

  21. I use coffee grounds in my worm bin. They process it along with the other scraps and bedding into a very rich Vermicompost that is unbeatable for Tomatoes, Peppers, Roses, and many many other plants in my gardens.

  22. I started growing tomato-plants and red-pepper-plants last week. The seeds are from the tomatoes and red peppers we ate (after buying them in the local store). Anyway, I used coffee grounds to fertilize, after reading your post. The plants are now 1 inch big, so still a long way to go ;-)
    About 3 months back we grew some tomatoes too, without fertilizing them. They grew all together 4 tomatoes. So I am keeping score on this new project! :-)

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    • That is great to hear Magnus. One the nest things about collecting used coffee grounds is that the finished product is waiting for you at the closest coffee shop. Good luck with it all.

  24. Good piece. I guess it makes intuitive sense that a plant that produces mildly acidic fruit would benefit from a mildly acidic fertilizer. As I’ve said here before, I never knew what all you could do with coffee grounds until now. Nice one.

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