Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
February, 2011
Regional Report

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Coffee grounds and orange peels make a great mulch/cat repellent on houseplants

Coffee Grounds - a Miracle!

Are you a coffee drinker? I am, in moderation. But, still, I have a cup or so of coffee grounds every day to deal with. I throw them in my compost bin so they do get recycled. But I've done a little research and there are so many other ways to use them. Here are a few that might give you a little inspiration to start saving your grounds.

First of all, you can add coffee grounds, paper filters and all, to compost piles, worm composting bins, and simply right to the garden, sheet composting style (dig them under).

Use grounds to mulch your plants. They are attractive and actually provide a mild dose of slow-release nitrogen to your plants. If they start getting a bit moldy, simply take a fork and stir them around.

Potting Mix
Add a cup of coffee grounds to a quart of potting soil when repotting indoor plants. They will help retain moisture and provide a mild fertilizer. This is a great practice to use when you repot houseplants in the spring.

Soil Amendment
Work coffee grounds into your garden soil before seed planting to improve water-holding capacity and aeration. You can simply spread grounds on top or use gentle cultivation to dig them in.

Slug Control
Coffee grounds mixed with crushed eggshells repel snails and slugs. Simply mix dry grounds with the eggshells and sprinkle around your hostas and in the center of the crown.

Help with Seeding
Mix tiny carrot and radish seeds with dry coffee grounds for better spacing when you sow the seeds. You can also use sand, but coffee grounds will also help retain moisture, making it easier for seedlings break through the soil crust.

Spread coffee grounds and orange peels in flower beds to keep cats from using the garden as a litter box. I'm trying this in one of my pots indoors that my cat has taken a fancy to.

Make a big coffee "tea" bag for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer. Mix about a half-pound can of grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water and let it let it sit for 24 hours. The grounds will settle and you can pour the liquid off. Or, put a cupful in a coffee filter, staple it shut and drop it in a pitcher of water to steep. Use the resulting brew to water houseplants and outdoor plants.

Odor Control
In the kitchen, place a bowl with coffee grounds in the freezer to remove unwanted odors. Rub coffee grounds on your hands to get rid of smells from chopping or cutting up pungent foods such as fish or garlic. You can also use coffee grounds to absorb odors in closets by filling old nylons and hanging them. While you may have a bit of explaining to do for guests, it really works!

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