Erin Doman on October 23, 2015 1 Comment There are many steps that you can take to ensure a thriving home garden, but few are more important than a healthy composting operation. Experienced gardeners know that there really isn’t a substitute for soil that has been enhanced by the inclusion of nutrient-rich organic material, and the added benefit to the environment is a bonus. While it’s quite common to include table scraps in the mix, many people overlook a popular material that can be found in almost any home: coffee grounds. Here are eight reasons why it makes sense to include coffee grounds in your compost pile. 1. Nitrogen Boost In order for a plant to grow big and strong, the leaves need to facilitate a healthy photosynthetic process to generate developmental fuel. Chlorophyll is the substance that plants use for the conversion of sunlight into energy, and a deficiency can lead to discoloration, wilting and eventual death. If the flora in question is being used to cultivate a fruit or vegetable, insufficient nutrients could lead to undersized and slow-developing produce. Nitrogen is a fundamental factor in the creation of this compound, and coffee is an excellent source that delivers it at a ratio of 20 parts to each single part of carbon. 2. Keep Worms Happy Vermicomposting is a technique that uses worms to produce a nutrient-rich soil that can be stronger than any chemical fertilizer. As a worm consumes food scraps and other organic material, it creates compost that takes on the nutritional value of the consumed substances. Coffee contains many of the nutrients that earthworms love to eat, and they also help to supplement the gritty substances that promote digestion inside a worm’s stomach. 3. Neutral Acidity Plant health depends on a number of different factors, and an optimal soil pH is a crucial ingredient to a thriving garden. For best results, the acidity of the ground should be close to neutral but leaning towards the more acidic end of the scale. Coffee grounds are a fairly neutral substance, which may seem counter-intuitive to those who are familiar with the extreme acid content of the beverage. The acids that are present in the beans are water-soluble, which means that they are washed away during the brewing process. 4. You’re Keeping Them Out of a Landfill The number of Americans who start the morning with a cup of java is staggering. According to a survey conducted by the National Coffee Association, 59 percent of respondents drink the popular beverage on a daily basis, and that number climbs to 79 percent when you include those who have at least one serving per week. With so many people partaking in this beverage, the amount of byproducts certainly adds up. Instead of letting coffee waste away in the anaerobic environment of a landfill, you can do some good for your home garden by including them in your composting efforts. Even if you don’t partake in the caffeinated beverage yourself, your local café may be more than happy to give you their leftovers. 5. Maintain Temperatures The interior of a compost pile can be an interesting place. While each of those components brings a unique dynamic to the equation, there are also some unsavory things that manage to hitch a ride. If you’re composting plant matter that has been trimmed from diseased stock, it’s essential that the internal temperature of the heap reach a point where it can kill off the bad things. Studies have shown that composting operations that contain at least 25 percent coffee by volume can sustain temperatures up to 160 degrees for up to two weeks. 6. No Pathogens When you compare coffee to manure, the numbers can be slightly similar in terms of benefits for a compost pile. Both are excellent sources of nitrogen for your garden, but there are a few advantages that you could realize if you make this substitution. The most obvious benefit is to your nose, as spent beans smell a lot better than animal waste. The more important perk that comes from making this switch is the lack of pathogens, as you have no idea what kinds of harmful bacteria could be living in commercially-available cow or horse manure. 7. Repel Unwanted Critters Maintaining a garden is a labor of love, and the last thing you want is for your plants to die off because of an invasion of unwanted pests. While snails and slugs wreak havoc by chewing on leaves, cats can make a mess of your plot as they dig around in the soil. You could spend extra money on pesticides that might work, but you run the risk of caustic substances contaminating the entire planting area. If you’re at a loss for a humane way to keep these interlopers at bay, coffee has been shown to be an effective repellent to each of these intruders. 8. Greens and Browns While nitrogen is an essential ingredient in any compost pile, it’s important that you achieve a sense of balance between all of the components, and that means gaining a thorough knowledge of green and brown composting elements. Brown substances are things like dry leaves, branches and other wooden materials, and they bring a significant amount of carbon, which is very important to the process. Coffee acts as a green substance on its own, which means that it falls along the same lines as grass clippings and other plant matter. When adding spent beans to your operation, be sure to also include any paper filters and biodegradable cups, as they combine to deliver benefits from both sides of the spectrum. Use those Coffee Grounds! Now that you know the advantages that come from the inclusion of coffee grounds in your home compost operation, isn’t it about time that you added them into the mix? Composting can be an exceptionally rewarding activity that is possible for gardeners of any skill level. Your plants will reap the benefits of nutrient-rich soil that provides all of the building blocks for efficient growth. You’ll also be lessening your environmental impact as you keep biodegradable materials away from the inhospitable conditions of a landfill. When you put it all together, recycling your spent beans is a smart strategy that can do a world of good.