How about a little coffee with your tomato.

Since Starbucks gives away coffee grounds in the summer, I kind of wondered if you could grow plants in spent coffee grounds.  But since coffee goes so well in compost, I never took the time to put it to a test…not on purpose, anyway.

Before it got cold this past fall, I screened some of my compost to save and use for seed starting.  I started these tomatoes in that mixture on the 11th of March.


The soil is nice and dark, almost black.  So dark, in fact, that I would think it didn’t need watering and it would be dried out.  Well, today I decided to give it a really nice soaking and I noticed the runoff was a really dark brown.  Curious…strange…a little weird.

I looked at the soil a little closer.  If you enlarge the picture, you can see a lot graininess on the surface.  Ya know what I think happened?  I think I screened out compost that consisted of mostly coffee grounds. 

I’d say germination was 90-95 percent.  So, did I answer my own question?  Do I have empirical (love that word) evidence that you can grow plants in spent coffe grounds?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, I’m going to grow a couple of them in coffee grounds just to see what will happen. 

Why bother?  Why not.  Who know when you might get a free truck load of spent coffee grounds that you might be able to use to fill up a raised bed and it won’t cost you anything.

Oh, yeah.  You see the little red bug in there with the tomato plants?  That’s my little lady bug I earned by completing all the Building Urban Gardens classes.  If I’m remebering right, there were close to 50 that started the class, but only 17 that attended all the classes and earned their lady bug.  The program is set up so that if you missed any class, you can attend the next session and still earn your lady bug.  Next we do a certain amount of volunteer hours and will earn a badge and they’ll have potluck to present the badges later in the season.

It was fun.  I enjoyed it, but I’m glad to get my Saturdays back…until I find something else to keep me busy. 

Happy Gardening!!!



  1. March 29, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Good thinking. If it works, let me know…I can just toss my coffee grounds into my potting mix and save a few bucks! They would have to be mixed with something for soil blocks, or they would crumble. But it might make a good addition/extension to the potting soil mixture I use now. I’m sold on the soil blocks, I’ll probably never start seeds in anything else now. I even made a bunch in advance and let them dry out. They rehydrated beautifully when it came time to plant.

    I thought that was a cherry tomato in your tomato plants….shows where my mind is these days! I’m ready for RIPE tomatoes!

  2. gardengoodies said,

    March 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I want to try the soil blocks. I was about to ask how big the plants can get in the soil blocks, but I guess that would depend on how big of a block you start with. Maybe you need to take a few close-up pics of a few of yours (hint-hint).

    p.s. Would you e-mail me your address again. I misplaced the envelope your seeds came in.

  3. Daphne Gould said,

    March 30, 2009 at 6:38 am

    I used to get a lot of coffee grounds for my compost too. I need to start doing that again. Coffee grounds are supposedly a good nitrogen source, so I’d worry about using them straight without any time in the bin.

  4. gardengoodies said,

    March 30, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I read you can use them straight as a fertilizer for your lawn. I tried it once, just sprinkled a thin layer all over the lawn. It didn’t hurt anything, but since I don’t really care about the grass I used the grounds in my compost.

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