Like many Americans, I enjoy drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, especially this time of year. My coffee drinking habit started as a child. I was told by my grandmother that drinking coffee would stunt my growth. As a 5-foot-8 woman it is a good thing it did.
After your coffee grounds have been used for their original purpose, give them a second life in your compost pile. Decomposition of organic material in the compost pile is dependent on microbial activity. Microbial activity is greatest when the carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio is 30:1. Things that are high in carbon, also known as “browns,” are sawdust/wood chips, leaves and straw. Things that are high in nitrogen, also known as “greens,” are grass clippings, rotten manure, coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps. Microbes require certain amounts of nitrogen to break down carbon materials. This is one of the reasons why we added “greens” to the mix. If there is not enough nitrogen available during the breakdown, the process will be very slow.
Coffee grounds are an ideal source for nitrogen, containing about the same C:N ratio as grass clippings, 20:1. No more than 25 percent of your compost heap should be coffee grounds. For your average coffee drinker this should not be an issue, but some composters collect coffee grounds from local coffee shops and restaurants.
Go ahead and throw those paper coffee filters in as well. They fall into the “brown” category. They take longer to decompose if you leave them whole, so you may want to shred or tear them. Do not add milk or creamer to your compost pile. Dairy products and dairy substitutes can attract pests to your compost pile.
Coffee grounds are a low-level source of nitrogen, having a fertilizer value of around 2-0.3-0.2 as well as a minor source of calcium and magnesium. Post brewed coffee grounds have a tendency to be slightly acidic. They can be applied to the soil to acid-loving plants, and can be used to change the color of your old-fashioned hydrangeas. Earthworms like coffee grounds as well. Adding coffee grounds to the bottom of your compost pile will help attract earthworms.
Continue enjoying your morning cup of Joe, and maybe your plants would like a cup as well.
For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston/ for more news about your local Extension office.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Monday: Office closed, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Jan. 22-Feb. 26: Garden Academy, Perry
Jan. 22: Ag Forecast, Tifton
Jan. 23: Ag Forecast, Macon
Feb. 4: Egg Candling Class, Perry
January Production Meetings: Please RSVP
Jan. 27: Farm Bill, noon, Perry
Jan. 29: Forage, 6 p.m., Perry
February/March Production Meetings: Please RSVP
Feb. 9: Corn, noon, Oglethorpe
Feb. 17: Weed Control, noon, Oglethorpe
Feb. 19: Pecan, noon, Perry
Feb. 20: Cotton/Soybean, noon, Perry
Feb. 27: Peanut, noon, Oglethorpe
March 5: Disease Management, noon, Oglethorpe
Charlotte Meeks is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent.