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.
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
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.
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.
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?
- Why and How to Start Collecting Coffee Grounds (groundtoground.org)
- Coffee Grounds in Compost (groundtoground.org)
- The Dreaded Blossom End Rot Has Struck. (redgardenclogs.wordpress.com)
- Survey – Want to Collect Coffee Grounds But Can’t Because… (groundtoground.org)