Going To Grounds
Amateur Gardening|November 02, 2019
It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, as Toby assesses the real benefits of using his Java grounds as plant mulch
Toby Buckland

IT’S said that the Sufi wise men of Yemen use coffee beans as a ‘food for the mind’ to stimulate their frenzied nocturnal devotions. I wouldn’t know – after 5 pm, I only drink caffeine-free herb tea (or neat gin), although I do use spent coffee as food for plants.

Mulching with coffee grounds isn’t new. Back in the 1980s, at a time when us Brits still thought Mellow Bird was a treat, I worked in a Bavarian hotel and regularly spread the moist black powder produced by coffee machines around the garden. For the Germans, proper coffee was the norm, as was recycling.

The cafes and kitchens recycled everything they could – glass, plastic, metal and even food waste went to feed the local pigs. And they would have hogged the coffee grounds, too, if I hadn’t snaffled them to use as a mulch.

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