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Dallas Morning News - October 8, 2018

Coffee - Good for More than Just Drinking

Drinking coffee is a regular ritual here at the Garrett house. We buy organic beans, grind them ourselves and continue to experiment with what coffee makers are the best. I have recommended and personally used coffee grounds as an organic fertilizer for years – with great results by the way – but have discovered that they possess other important uses.

Coffee, in any form, contains N-P-K, trace minerals, vitamins, minerals and properties that help stimulate the growth of beneficial microbes. The best part of this story is that coffee grounds are basically free. Just ask your local restaurants or coffee shops to put them in a container provided by you. At the least, save and use your own coffee grounds at home like we do every day. Regular coffee is best but decaf works almost as well.

Coffee grounds in storage tend to develop a green or blue-green fungus that looks like mold. Don’t worry - that’s good. The green fungus, a Trichoderma species, is really beneficial, while the blue-green one is reported to be only moderately beneficial. In any case, moldy coffee is helpful to use directly in the garden, in the compost pile and on interior potted plants. Diluted coffee is also an excellent organic fertilizer, especially for orchids and African violets and may have some of the same pest control powers.

How about pest control? To control slugs, snails and pillbugs in the garden, broadcast coffee grounds around plants troubled by the little beasts at anywhere from 2 – 5 lbs. of coffee grounds per 100 square feet. There is also research showing that coffee grounds repel other insect pests. Slugs and snails hate caffeine. Researchers have discovered that a 1 to 2 percent caffeine solution kills slugs and snails in two days. Concentrations as low as 0.01 percent repel the pests. A cup of instant coffee contains about 0.05 percent caffeine and brewed coffee has more.

There is also considerable anecdotal evidence that coffee grounds can help remove fleas from your pet, neutralize odors, clean and soften skin, clean pots and pans and eliminate the dustiness of various products. It’s even reported that caffeine and antioxidants in coffee grounds can help combat cellulite, under-eye circles and other signs of aging skin.

We know for sure that coffee grounds are also packed with nutrients that can help nourish plants and deter pests in your garden. Enjoy a cup or two of coffee tomorrow but remember that the coffee grounds should never go in the trash.

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