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 Post subject: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:19 pm 
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Location: wilmington,nc
I have a source for as much used coffee grounds as I can take for free. Does anyone know the rough npk of used coffee grounds and composted grounds? I want to use this for my compost pile that is mainly horse manure, but I add whatever we produce that is compostable, kitchen and yard scraps.
thx Joe


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:46 pm 
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Hi Joe. If you are going to garden with organics, one thing you need to learn is the difference between the NPK mentality and the food mentality.

NPK is a chemistry concept. It has its roots in the discovery hundreds of years ago that certain chemicals would boost the growth rate of plants. After centuries of non standardization, the concept of NPK was firmed up in the early part of the 20th century. Later the truth in advertising laws came about and the chemists dominated those discussions. In their defense the organic community really didn't have any good research to argue otherwise until the 1990s. Now it has become clear that food value is the important element of organic gardening. Food (protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals) is what the compost and soil microbes need.

Coffee is food which is immediately available to the soil microbes. This means that it can be used directly on the ground as an organic fertilizer. It has about the same food/fertilizer value as corn. The direct application rate is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If you can get it in unlimited quantities for free, I'd tend to use it at 20-40 pounds per 1,000. More than that and you can both smother grass but also stink up the neighborhood as it decomposes. Under plants you can use a heaping handful (or three) under each plant every month.

Coffee tends to get a green or blue-green fungus growing on it. The green one is really beneficial (Trichoderma species) while the blue-green one is modestly beneficial. In any case, moldy coffee is GREAT to use directly in the garden.

Using compost in a compost pile is a waste of perfectly good fertilizer. If your pile is mainly fresh manure, you can cover that up with tree leaves collected from the neighbors and you'll be good to go.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:24 pm 
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Location: wilmington,nc
I was wondering about the npk to see if it would be a good n source for heating the mostly manure pile, the manure came in with a fair amount of bedding (saw dust/chips) mixed in with it. The most I've been able to get out of the pile is about 130degrees, so I was trying to heat her up some. I turn the pile about once a week. Thanks for the info on the grounds as fertilizer. The grounds will bypass the compost pile and be applied directly.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:34 pm 
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I'm going to introduce another concept that nobody talks about but me. I don't think I'm a genius by any means so I'm at a loss to understand why nobody seems to realize this.

Nitrogen and carbon cannot be composted. If you pile up pure black carbon dust and blow nitrogen gas through it, you will never get it to compost. Those terms are used in common discussions of compost but in my opinion they should be left in the domain of the soil scientist who understands what he or she is talking about.

The nitrogen they are talking about is simply a way to comprehend protein. Protein is the only compostable material that really has a significant amount of nitrogen in it. For some reason the scientists standardized on the term nitrogen, instead of protein. I'm guessing the reason is that the chemists were in charge of the project. The carbon they are talking about is that contained in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are also called fiber in the feed sense. They contain sugars and cellulose.

To have a healthy compost pile you need both protein and carbohydrates. Coffee grounds have a relatively low protein content on a % by weight measure. Even still, they make a good fertilizer.

The best way to heat up a compost pile is to add fresh manure that probably has urine in it. Horse manure (and straw) collected from a stable is very good (HOT).

If your pile is heating to 130 you don't need to get it hotter. However, if more heat is your personal ambition then you might consider adding meat to the pile. Bury it deep, of course.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:57 pm 
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thanks for the info on the protein and carbs, makes more organic sense then throwing around n and c. i like it!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:34 am 
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Dchall_San_Antonio wrote:
Using compost in a compost pile is a waste of perfectly good fertilizer.


Embarrassing! :oops: :oops: :oops:

I meant to say,
Using coffee in a compost pile is a waste of perfectly good fertilizer.

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:54 pm 
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You could have gone back and edited your own post! Mea culpa is not necessary! :)

Almost makes me want to start drinking coffee, after reading this description of using the grounds.

I drink black tea. I don't generate as much debris after a pot of tea, but do you have any special destination for those leaves? (I put them in the food waste bin to break down before it gets buried in the big compost pile in the yard. This way my dogs stay out of the table scraps).

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:43 pm 
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In most parts of the country, if not in all, the Starbucks coffee shops have willingly given away their used coffee grounds to those asking politely. It's that much less mass and weight going into their dumpsters, and it's a generous expression of recycling. Their website even mentions this practice.

Befriend the manager at a few (try other coffeee shops too) and you might be able to get a few 5-gal. bucket-fulls every now and then. Beware, you just might find competition and learn that there are other anxious gardeners hitting that same shop.

First come, first served. Buying a coffee there might help.....then ask the manager as you swap cash for java.


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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:19 am 
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Most all the starbucks I've been to have the small keg-like container sitting out FULL of pkgs of used grounds for the taking.
:)
Patty

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:00 pm 
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northwesterner wrote:
You could have gone back and edited your own post! Mea culpa is not necessary! :)

One of my rules for forums is to never edit anything once the Submit button is pushed. If it needs to be changed, I'll suffer the embarrassment and post again. That way it leaves a 'chain' of corrections, additions, or deletions. Furthermore you can trust that as a moderator, I will never change anyone else's wording. That happened to me once (twice) on another forum. The mod changed a poor choice of words to make a total error out of it. The second time they deleted most of my message which changed the intent completely. Shame on me for lasting that long.

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:10 pm 
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In theory that's a good policy, but as a print editor myself, I saw that as more of a typo than a major factual error. What is sometimes colloquially called a "brain fart." (I hope this forum software doesn't see that as a term to expurgate). Perhaps you need a web equivalent of the "5 second rule"--you know, if you drop food on the floor, if you can scoop it up in under 5 seconds, it doesn't count as having *really* been on the floor. Sometimes you can't see typos UNTIL you've hit the "submit" button.

Ask me how I know. . .

:lol:

Meanwhile, I don't drink coffee, but I may swing by my local Starbucks for a cuppa tea and pick up some grounds and see what I can do with them.

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 10:22 pm 
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Moderator, I was a bit alarmed at your Dec 14, 2008 comment on burying meat deep in the compost pile. I have been composting for 22 years and thru all studies, have never been advised to add meat. It is always stressed: NO MEAT, NO GREASE. Yes, to avoid rats, but also pathogens that may not get cooked out especially in passive compost piles. I do love reading about composting......such a wonderful product is produced....and it is free.


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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 10:54 pm 
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I think that fear of meat pathogens is an Old Wives Tale. And the veggie material in the compost will attract pests just like the meat. (Just ask my dogs--if I'm not careful they're in the compost for things as simple as garlic or carrots).

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:55 am 
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LucyBelle wrote:
Moderator, I was a bit alarmed at your Dec 14, 2008 comment on burying meat deep in the compost pile. I have been composting for 22 years and thru all studies, have never been advised to add meat. It is always stressed: NO MEAT, NO GREASE. Yes, to avoid rats, but also pathogens that may not get cooked out especially in passive compost piles. I do love reading about composting......such a wonderful product is produced....and it is free.
Hi LucyBelle. I've never read it anywhere but where I write about it either. I have heard it discussed but it is very seldom written about. Obviously animals decompose just fine or else we'd all be walking around on dinosaur carcasses. The only reason not to compost meat is the smell. The more dense the protein is, the more is tends to smell when it decomposes. That can be fixed easily by covering the meat with compost or leaves. In other words, bury it deep. The compost and/or leaves absorb the ammonia from decaying protein and keep it in the pile. I composted a dog about six years ago. If I recall I buried the dog, covered him with horse manure, and then with dry leaves.

Composting animals or meat is not for beginners. 90% of all composting stuff you read is aimed at beginners. If you can maintain a hot pile, animals decompose down to bones in a few days.

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 Post subject: Re: coffee grounds
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:21 am 
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Ok, in regards to coffee grounds.....If I wanted to collect and save up enough to use on my yard what would you all recommend as the best way to save them over a period of time until I have enough to use? Will they go bad if I put them in a 5 gallon bucket while they are wet? Thanks.


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