Coffee Grinds in My Flower Bed

April 18, 2008

It has begun – I am now scouring every Starbucks in my vicinity for used coffee grinds to fling on my flower beds as a fertilizer. As with last year, some locations are better than others for picking up grinds:

  • Metcalfe and Slater – these guys are great. They’ve always got a huge double-garbage bag of grinds to give both in the mid-morning and late afternoon. Just ask one of the baristas behind the counter if they have any used grinds and they’ll be more than happy to give them to you. My #1 favourite place for location and availability as I work downtown.
  • Queen and O’Connor – these guys are also great and you’ll find they pre-bag their used grinds into the silver packaging that the beans originally come in. If there are no bags in the basket near the end of the walkway you can ask one of the baristas if they have any more. Ask for it in a garbage bag so they don’t have to scoop on the spot. Ranks #3 on my favourite places to get grinds.
  • Elgin and Lewis – no pre-bagged bags though they were pretty happy that I was collecting them and said it was a great idea. Maybe if more people ask for used grinds at this location they’ll start saving them.
  • Elgin and Laurier – no pre-bagged bags though they’re okay with giving them out. The guy couldn’t find a bag to use so I let him top up one of the garbage bags I was already lugging around.
  • Laurier and O’Connor – No grinds here. They said they don’t save them because no one comes in to ask for them and then they suggested that I go to a more residential area. I didn’t tell them that only two blocks away Metcalfe and Slater was my biggest supplier of used coffee grinds.
  • Woodroffe and Strandherd – last year I was only able to get a few bags of grinds from this location until the manager apparently got frustrated with the mess that the grinds made and got rid of the baskets. This year I went back and was able to get a huge double-bag of grinds so we’ll see how long it lasts.
  • Pinecrest Mall – these guys are great and really familiar with people coming to pick up used coffee grinds. At the height of summer you may find yourself competing with other gardener’s for their grinds as it’s a very popular location. My 2nd favourite place.

Here’s a shot of a three-day’s hoarding of used coffee grinds:

Bottom-left and top-right are single-bagged and smell stronger of coffee than the double-bagged and pre-bagged grinds. It’s a pretty good haul and I started spreading them out over all of my flower beds. Here’s some in the half-barrel in the front yard:

A thick layer at the foot of my boxwood and Black Lace shrubs in the front bed:

A bunch on top of the bleeding heart that I need to divide soon on the side bed (you can see partial pieces of a Halloween pumpkin that got tossed in the lower right):

You’ll notice that some of the grinds are still in circular pieces as this is their shape in the espresso machine. I try to break them apart and make it less obvious that they are coffee grinds however you’ll notice some of the discs in these pictures. It doesn’t really matter as it’ll all break apart and decompose over time. Here’s some on top of the rhubarb that I was too chicken to divide last weekend and a little sprinkled around my cheery crocus in the side bed:

A thick layering on the bleeding heart and hosta plant (top and far left, respectively, in the picture) that need to be relocated to a more roomier spot:

Underneath the dogwood, on top of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit and whatever that creeping stuff is called that I have to cut back every year:

Some grinds on the raspberry canes:

And finally some sprinkled on the backyard side beds:

I wore disposable rubber gloves so that it would be easier to take the smell of coffee off my hands when I was done. It was a lot of grinds and I’m still collecting more for the rest of the beds in the back yard. Once I’m done them I’ll take a short break from collecting. In about a week I’ll apply a layer of corn gluten meal on the lawn and then wait three weeks before I have it core-aerated. Then I’ll start collecting grinds again to fertilize the lawn.


9 Responses to “Coffee Grinds in My Flower Bed”

  1. Amy Says:

    What a great haul! I wonder if any of my local coffee shops would do this.

  2. hw Says:

    I can’t believe you cornered the Starbucks at Metcalfe and Slater. My wife works around the corner and was a prime visitor there. The manager and barristas would always have her order prepped even before she got to the cash to pay. Last year, I asked her to ask for the coffee grinds – they told her they were booked till late May/early June. Was that you?

    I found an alternate regular supplier this year, but I think that’s hilarious that we were both hitting up the same store!

  3. Kathy Says:

    Ha ha ha! That is funny ‘cuz it totally WAS me! Last year I talked to the manager there and they offered to save them for me for a couple weeks. I was really only picking them up in early spring and stopped getting them the rest of the season. It was weird because sometimes, when I went in last year, someone else had already stopped by and gotten the grinds. That must have been your wife!

    Actually, I just stopped by there at lunch today and got a big bag of grinds. If you’re still getting them from there maybe we should work out a schedule. πŸ™‚

  4. Rob F Says:

    The Bridgehead at Bank and Albert is giving away coffee grounds as compost today (and may make a habit of doing so in the future, according to sources). You should totally get in on the action if you can!

  5. Kathy Says:

    Hey thanks for the tip, Rob! I was wondering about those other coffee places and had actually stopped in at a Bridgehead on Elgin last week to ask. Unfortunately it was really busy so I left. I remember last year the Second Cup at Metcalfe and Slater were considering giving away their grinds – think I’ll check it out today.

    Edit: Nope, the Second Cup at Metcalfe and Slater does not give out grinds.

  6. Diana Says:

    Hi Kathy,
    What are the coffee grounds for? Fertilizing? I have put them in my compost before but never straight onto the beds. Must try.

    By the way – I have loads of composted sheep manure for you anytime you want it. Just have to figure out how to package it up for you. My husband suggested feed bags but I’m thinking construction-strength garbage bags. IT’s awfully heavy shit. πŸ˜‰

  7. Kathy Says:

    Hi Diana!

    Used coffee grinds is a good source of nitrogen and it’s free from Starbucks. I’m definitely still interested in the sheep manure. I’ll have to come by and have a look at it.


  8. […] March 20, 2009 The first day of spring marks the start of collecting used coffee grinds from Starbucks and their Grounds For Your Garden program.Β  Used coffee grinds help increase the organic matter in your soil and in the past I’ve flung used coffee grinds on my lawn and in my flower beds. […]

  9. rena Says:

    I have been using coffee grinds in my flowerbeds for years and only that it was because my grandmother (who would be a hundred and seven) did and the memories of her garden remains strong within my memory due to it’s over the top lush beauty and fragrance. I just learned this morning that it as also a keeps cats from using you bed for a toilet! My grandmother also used eggshells and I do not know the reason for that so I will research it. Coffee grinds also turn the hydrangea from pink to blue…Starbucks, here I come! Happy gardening everyone πŸ™‚

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