2cents
Green Thumb
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Coffee Grounds

How much is too much?
When is too much coffee grounds bad for the garden when adding them directly on top or incorporated into the soil?
Is it ever too much grounds in the compost pile?

If you were building a new bed and had 4 yards of OM, how much grounds would be too much before spring planting.
Do you have suggestions for what to plant?

What do I need to be cautious of?
IMHO

cynthia_h
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We have several previous discussions about coffee grounds in compost. Please see

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10731

for one of them. Go to the "Compost" list of threads and scan down it; I just did, and there are more threads than I can copy right now, but at least this one will get you started.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

rot
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worms dig it

..
In my neck of the woods, southern calley forn ya, laying down like a quarter inch of coffee grounds seems to get absorbed largely in a couple of months. At least enough that I feel OK to plant seeds.

Dynamics might be a little different in your parts with snow and rain. It's dry here but worms are active all year 'round.

I'm betting a quarter inch layer now would be OK in March. You'll still see some of it, especially if you mulch on top of that with grass clippings or crunched up leaves, but I'm thinking it is safe to seed.

Plan B: I haven't done any worm composting but I'm thinking about it because I have a lot of newspaper. Newspaper + coffee grounds should equal great bulk worm food. I'm thinking more in terms of digesting as opposed to producing lots of compost though.

I like starbucks because I have a couple of places where I can get lots and the stuff doesn't stink like the folgers in the drip makers. I once spread a couple hundred pounds on the beads outside the front door and for two weeks on my way out to work it was wake up and smell the coffee. I prefer tea myself.

The starbucks website, at least at one point in time, indicated that coffee grounds were only slightly acidic. I believe the theory is that once brewed, most of the acids are gone. Starbucks coffee doesn't seem to curdle my stomach like bulk drip maker coffees do so I think there's less acid there too. While I'm sure your acid loving plants will do well, I think the acidity factor is largely a non issue but soil tends to be base 'round here.

Un-mulched, the coffee grounds seem to keep the snails away for a short time until the grounds go stale. Maybe a week. I have seen some say that the caffeine kills snails but I haven't seen that and I read something more scientific out of a Hawaii university web site that indicated that the snails simply don't like the acid or the taste or something.

two cents
..

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Thank you Cynthia_h
Thank you Rot

Your insights are helpful.

Perhaps you've told me all I could hope for and for that I'm grateful.

I've gone maybe a bit too far this year :oops: I am a vegetable gardener.

The thing is I decided to expand the garden 8x16 perpendicular to a RB 4x8. New section no wood forms, just free style and will frame it in a couple years. But it is still a raised bed.
I though I would try something different, I've seen how fast wood chips are breaking down and they are great for our clay here as they break down.
Everything I did was free, but labor for me and my pickup. This is laid right on top of the grass.
Started end of September>
I brought in 2-3 yards rough chips and spread as a 10-15 inch base a foot short of the outside edge of finished beds. These are approximations.
I piled the garden debri and some kitchen scraps less than a yard of, not fine but rough and loose material.(chopped it would be a wheel barrow, 6 cubic feet).
(We had 2 big storms left with tons of tree debri)
A buddy got 30 yards of the June storm debri which sat all summer.
I piled 2 yards on top of my future garden spot.(chipped small with lots of green leaf when chipped) (when I got it, it had lots of mold).
There was a second storm in October and my Township was a collection site, they shredded it fine, so I put another 2 yards of that on(leaves were green when the storm hit)(Township pile after shredding was(100 feet x 350 feet upto 30 feet high) It was an amazing pile of free stuff.
I just couldn't resist getting some, when I didn't need any more.
I also have put a 1/2 yard fine mulched fall leaves and a 1/2 yard other fall leaves.

I started to get more coffee grounds back in October, from a local shop(their other guy stopped coming) and have put two wheel barrows of grounds in.

The Pile is 8 x 16 now 2-3 feet high(it would have been 5 feet but had cooked and shrank).

Recap;
9/08 2-3 yards of rough chips
Early 10/08 kitchen, garden debri starts and a little coffee grounds.
mid 10/08 2 yards chips with green leaves(3-4 month of composting)
October my pile heats up and good(no thermometer)
Digging holes and putting in coffee and veggie scraps and other garden debri.
Late October leaves start to fall and adding leaves.
early 11/08 a yard of leaves
11/08 2 yards of new storm debri(leaves were green when storm hit)
We had record cold in November and the pile went cold by 11/15
I stopped adding Coffee in December because the pile is dead and it is going down to -3 Farhenheit tonight. Jan 16.

I am new at using large quantities of coffee. And not alot of hot compost experience.
My question is, knowing this will likely heat up again in spring(expecting early March).
Will this compost pile be usable for growing in?
Will this require some soil on top? How much?
Should I only expect to grow bush beans(that has worked in the past)?
What else could I expect to grow there?
Neighbor wants to grow giant pumkins this year, would that be an acceptable spot for a 200+ lb. pumpkin?

Any and all advice is welcome.

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Also,
Should I stop with the coffee grounds?
Or should I just pile it on and hope for the best with a really hot pile in the spring?

Can I plant in this stuff?
IMHO

cynthia_h
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There are books on compost at the public library, and there are sites on the web aimed at commercial-sized compost piles. What you have might be considered a "small" commercial-sized pile due to the storm debris.

I'm still under incredible deadline pressure, so will suggest some Internet search criteria:

compost management wood coffee

Maybe some combination of these terms will find a site you can use.

More maybe tonight or tomorrow.

Cynthia

rot
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Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

not sure

..
Little to no garden experience here.

I know someone in the midwest but farther south who has room to try such things and likes cucumbers in such a situation. I'm thinking pumpkin will be fine if the cucumbers are OK. I don't know about giant pumpkins. Squirrels left sunflower seeds in a slow go compost bin I was playing with so I threw tomato seeds in and they did fine in spite of my neglect.

Maybe someone else can chime in about the wood chips. They maybe composted just enough but those things take a while. I'm betting everything else is OK.

I must say, that's getting a lot of organics in the ground. If this coming season is a wash, wait until next season and I'm betting you'll be real pleased. Worst case scenario: delayed gratification.

I've been spilling raw organics on the ground but nothing like you. I'll light a candle for your success while I take your cue.
..

2cents
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Thank you for the reply

CH, I've read many an article about this and some a little too scientific for me(just don't want to invest in the equipment for all the testing)
Short of that I will never know until I plant.

Rot, I must be crazy or lucky. There has never been so much available free OM. Thank God for the storms. I always put more OM in than anyone I know.
Except now I've convince a young buddy to put more in and he is getting it free 10 yards at a time[free](60 yds total this year). But he shares with me and one other. He plans to get 10-20 yds(fall leaves) a year and I can have all I want.

This will be a good trial(don't know how much it will decompose in the spring till it cools[if it heats up]).
Thanks for the cukes idea, didn't think of it.
What do you all think of herbs or root crops in this deep compost spot?

rot
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two cents for 2cents

..
2cents,

As I lead before, I've got little to no experience gardening. So yeah, I like the notion that I won't know until I plant. I do know that I want to put as much organic material as fast as I can into the ground.

Coffee grounds are easy for me to gather in my situation. I must have a couple thousand pounds in the ground about me now but spread out. Coffee grounds break down easy enough on the ground and they choke the compost bin when in great quantities so it's an easy equation for me - just spill it on the ground and when that wastes away, add some more. I've scratched, merely scratched, away the coffee ground cover away from trees and such after two months and there are worms right there just below the surface.

I went the composting route for generating organics for the ground. I went big time gathering for everything I could find for a while but I kind of petered out after the local supermarket kicked me out of their dumpsters. I know there's lots of stuff out there but I've made a decision that I'm only going to put so much time and energy into that and maybe spend more time planting or something like that while I have so little time and energy to do those other things. So I make compost with what's on hand and I casually gather, with little effort, lots of coffee grounds to spill on the soil. It works for me.

As I advised on making compost in a previous post somewhere else, I want all this, the composting, the gardening and, the junk collecting, to work for me. It needs to fit me and my hokey lifestyle. Being tied up in my job and all, I know I need to make certain things fit my coming and going instead of the other way around.

So, with less than two cents worth of gardening knowledge and, about as much wisdom in any other field of useful knowledge, I say: make it work for you. Do not bend so much as adapt what is about you to conform how you are willing to conduct yourself. I've seen lots of great advice of sure fire methods here and elsewhere but in the end, that advice worked for the source of that advice and I have to be smart enough to apply it to my circumstances. If I rigidly apply the advice of others untreated, without adaptation, I seem to fail because the follow through becomes too much for me.

I like your approach. I think you've got something. I'm going to take your lead and expand the list of ingredients I can spill directly on the ground while I compost anything else that falls across my path.

Thanks kindly.

two cents
..

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applestar
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Have you checked pH? I'm thinking wood chips breaking down also can lower pH. Wondering also if this is sufficient Nitrogen -- you might want to spread some kind of manure NOW to heat things up and help break them down -- depends on amount of veg scraps and coffee grounds I guess, but those ingredients may not be "strong enough" for wood chips.... Different kinds of manure raises or lowers pH - can't remember what though - so keep that in mind. This time of year, if pH is too low, wood ash might be a good (i.e. readily available) amendment.
Will this require some soil on top? How much?
Should I only expect to grow bush beans(that has worked in the past)?
What else could I expect to grow there?
Neighbor wants to grow giant pumkins this year, would that be an acceptable spot for a 200+ lb. pumpkin?:
My impression is that what you have is a great sheet mulched/lasagna garden and you could grow anything there you want. :D HOWEVER, the bed *may* heat up in the spring if not everything has broken down, so it's probably a good idea to have a buffer layer of soil, especially if you're planting seeds (sieved for a seeds), for better tilth and to protect new root hairs. At the same time, the extra heat my allow you to start your veggies earlier, especially for things like beans and pumpkin. (You may also NEED to start earlier for seeds that prefer cooler sprouting temps.) For transplants, I think POCKETS of soil might save you soil while getting the necessary depth.

That's all I can think of right now. Good luck! :D

-- Oh I thought of something else :lol: If I remember correctly, potatoes grow well in hegelkutur garden (look in PermaCulture forum), which contains a lot of woody materials. 8)

2cents
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Thank you all so much for the replies.

applestar,
what is hegelkutur garden?
IMHO

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CharlieK
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I'm not Applestar but I was interested as well. I found this graphic explanation about sheet composting in not so hospitable soil:

[url]https://home.att.net/~ekyorigins/Hugelkulture.html[/url]
I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. Addison

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applestar
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HUGELKULTUR

THAT'S the one! Sorry about the typo. :oops:
Here's a link to the thread we had in our Permaculture Forum: [url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=823[/url]

2cents
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These last few posts and links have been sooooo.... helpful to putting a name and technique to what I've been doing so long.

People have told me I "sheet compost, double dig, trench compost, lasagna", and on and on and on. Can't remember everthing people tell me, what it is I do.

Actually, I've been doing all of them, not knowing what they were, or that they have names.
I just know they work from trial and error. My fear has been that I may have overdone it this year. The potential ERROR!!!

These links have helped provide a little comfort and confidence for the spring planting. I will be experimenting with trying to start bean seeds early spring and see how it goes.
I may have to add 1-2 inch trench of soil and start in that.
Or the idea of 1-2 inch trench lined with newspaper, soil in that and then start seeds.

From everthing you've said, the links say, and past experiences, I've at least have some ideas for a successful season in this new spot.

Can someone give me a quick explanation of double dig? Is it the same as trench composting and is that the same as Hugelkulture?
Sorry, but I can be a bit dense and like the confirmation.

cynthia_h
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Ohio State University Extension article on double-digging, also has some illustrations:

https://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-Fact/1000/1257.html

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

2cents
Green Thumb
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CH,
Thanks for the website, it is now part of my favorites.
I've only recently gotten interested in the Internet or techie for gerdening.
This one will be a great resource.
Since buckeyes have a thick outer coat, we tend to be slow to start, but once the seed starts it grows strong.
The picture on this site really help........Appearantly I have been double digging just like my friend tell me. Part of the garden is composted that way right now, waiting for spring.

Thanks.
IMHO

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