Ask a Question forum: Coffee grounds time to provide nitrogen

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Name: Dennis Chastain
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
dlchasta35
Mar 7, 2015 2:11 PM CST
Does any one know how long it takes for Used Coffee Grounds to provide more nitrogen than they consume when mixed it soil.?
dlchasta35
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Mar 7, 2015 2:57 PM CST
I don't know, but I'd say that it would depend a great deal on the conditions at the time of use. Warm and moist conditions would probably speed things up, just like it does in compost piles. I'm thinking that the presence of an abundant supply of active, healthy and hungry microbial life would factor in as well. So...mixing it with cold bare sand might take a significantly longer time than mixing it into a compost pile or an already amended and actively warm garden soil.

Can you elaborate on the question? Are you wanting to apply it directly to the base of plants, or plan to use it in containers, etc?
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
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Shadegardener
Mar 7, 2015 4:05 PM CST
I just heard a You Bet Your Garden podcast on coffee grounds. I believe Mike McGrath says to wait until after acid-loving ornamentals bloom, especially the spring bloomers, as too much nitrogen can affect the number of blooms. In veg garden, you'd want to use them on anything grass-like like corn but not anything that fruits (like tomatoes or peppers). For fruits like blueberries, wait until after they bloom and start bearing fruit. Should be good for compost at anytime as long as there's enough brown stuff in the pile.
Name: Dennis Chastain
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
dlchasta35
Mar 7, 2015 10:54 PM CST
I just want to know if I work ICG in garden now will they be at least neutral by the time
My potatoes plants start to make leaves. I just plantednthe potatoes on fairly good soil.
dlchasta35
Name: Dennis Chastain
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
dlchasta35
Mar 7, 2015 10:57 PM CST
I just want to know if I work UCG in garden now will they be at least neutral by the time
My potatoe

plants start to make leaves. I just planted the potatoes in fairly kgood soil. I thought I was editing not duplicating
dlchasta35
[Last edited by dlchasta35 - Mar 7, 2015 10:59 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 8, 2015 7:36 AM CST
You might find this Japanese research article relevant:

"These results suggest that most of N in coffee grounds is insoluble N. However, Wakasawa et al. (1998a) reported that NO 3 -N content of the soil incorporated with coffee grounds gradually increases after 4 months of the application. "

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/pps/17/1/17_93/_article

Field Evaluation of Coffee Grounds Application for Crop Growth Enhancement, Weed Control, and Soil Improvement, Yamane et al.

The article also discusses the potentially inhibitory effects on growth of some plants in the short term. "These results indicated that coffee grounds are useful to enhance long term crop growth, short duration weed control, and soil improvement in agricultural fields by considering the inhibitory effects on
the plant growth for half year after the application."

As an aside, and maybe not relevant for your purpose, coffee grounds aren't necessarily particularly acidic.
[Last edited by sooby - Mar 8, 2015 7:40 AM (+)]
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Name: Dennis Chastain
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
dlchasta35
Mar 8, 2015 8:19 AM CST
Thanks for the information and the link from Japan. It is exactly the information I was looking for. I will only use them incorporated in the soil for the fall garden not the spring one.

I do have a question on interpretation however. I do not know what meter to the -2 means. Surly they did not mean 22 pounds to the square meter for the fertility test and 35.2 pounds for the weed control tests.
dlchasta35
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 8, 2015 9:40 AM CST
I think it does mean per square metre, notwithstanding that I'm somewhat mathematically challenged. That's what it looks like from some symbol references I found anyway.

Sounds like a lot but according to the full text of the research the grounds used had 65% water content, so that would have constituted a significant portion of the weight. They used a lot less than that in some of the tests. FWIW I just weighed the spent grounds from our coffee machine and just that small amount in the filter came to 110 grams wet weight.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 8, 2015 11:06 AM CST
If you need more coffee grounds than you produce yourself, your local Starbucks (or other coffee emporium) will give you bags of spent grounds. I found that late morning was a good time to go and ask, after the morning rush is over.
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
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Shadegardener
Mar 8, 2015 3:06 PM CST
If it makes any difference, the spent grounds from Starbucks are a lot drier than what you would take from your home brewing basket.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Mar 9, 2015 7:22 AM CST
I'm not a believer in incorporating any organic material under the soil surface, or disturbing the soil for any reason besides adding a plant, or removing an unwanted plant. The decomposition crew will take care of decomposing whatever OM that is placed on the surface, distributing it's components to the proper level under the surface, and making the nutrients available to roots. This is how mother nature distributes OM naturally, on the surface. I try to keep a constant layer of OM on the surface, added whenever various materials become available. The wider the variety, the better.

http://permaculturenews.org/2013/09/20/soil-not-dirt-dr-elai...

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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 9, 2015 7:43 AM CST
I incorporate coffee grounds into my potting media, which I custom-make in a large wheelbarrow. I go through approximately 10 cf. of this mix each year. The "backbone" of my mix is always milled sphagnum moss. I use liberal amounts of "chunky" perlite as well. I really don't worry about all the "science" of whether the grounds produce nitrogen quickly or whether that nitrogen is "available". I could not care less. I just don't waste the coffee grounds. During the spring and summer, I toss a handful of grounds onto each of my azaleas and my groupings of gingers/cannas. I have done this for many years. Does it do any good? I don't know. Does it do any harm? Hardly.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 9, 2015 8:07 AM CST
Ken, I think Dennis is concerned about nitrogen being temporarily "stolen" by the microorganisms that decompose the coffee grounds, which can result in N deficiency in the plants. If you add sufficient inorganic nitrogen fertilizer to your mix then that potential problem is canceled out in any case.
[Last edited by sooby - Mar 9, 2015 8:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Mar 9, 2015 8:30 AM CST
I agree with Tiffany. I constantly add all manner of organic "mulch" on the surface and let nature take its course - no problem with nitrogen being lost during decomposition.
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 9, 2015 8:50 AM CST
I generally will add a couple of handfuls of Osmocote, or the equivalent slow-release fertilizer, to each wheelbarrow load of potting media. Since I water/fertilize so frequently (having over 800 tropical plants, I'm always watering and/or fertilizing something! Whistling ), those potted-up plants, with my coffee grounds infused media, get that supplemented as well.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Mar 9, 2015 10:17 AM CST
Growing in a pot & growing in the ground are 2 totally different things. If they weren't, filling pots with ground dirt would work well. Trying to provide fertility via OM in pots is usually fruitless since the conditions rarely enable microbes to stay alive. Fertilizer is usually needed.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
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โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 9, 2015 10:26 AM CST
My point was root restriction, not the fact that ground-growing and pot-growing are different entities. Where I am, with our horrible clay 2-3" below our "top-soil", only pine trees and hardy hardwoods seem to grow reasonably well. This clay will kill a citrus tree in a heartbeat (drowning) and has absolutely no nutritional value. Good drainage, regardless whether it is pots or the ground, is very important.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Mar 9, 2015 10:59 AM CST
I agree, absolutely and completely, about drainage. But wouldn't till or otherwise disturb soil as attempt to improve that. Disturbing the soil wrecks what little drainage there may be. This can also lead to drastic erosion, such as that which led to the dust bowl in the 30's.

Keeping ground covered with OM is like magic, and does the work of turning airless clay into black, fluffy, crumbly, fertile soil that's not muddy when wet, or cracked and hard when dry. There is no such thing as a dense, healthy forest with bad dirt because the OM in them is never removed as is often practiced in gardening (and more dramatically in mowed areas.) In order for soil to have tilth and humus, it must be added to the surface in the form of OM, and replaced as it is depleted.

This works equally well in a housing developments up north where all of the top soil has been removed for sale when houses are built, and in both red clay and sandy spots in AL. Spots that required a maddock to dig a hole before being covered with OM while can be easily planted in with a hand trowel after a few seasons. The condition and composition of soil is so easily changed with very little effort, a little time, as I've seen in so many new beds I've stared in both states. I've watched various yearly-tilled gardens over the years and the soil in them gets worse, not better. Lighter color, hard as a rock and cracked when dry, muddy when wet. Those gardens usually need fertilizers.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
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โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 9, 2015 11:03 AM CST
OK, tell me again, what's "OM"? I'm old! Sighing!
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Mar 9, 2015 11:17 AM CST
Organic matter, Ken. Smiling
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