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Fancy a Coffee?

When I was little, I used to enjoy dunking digestive biscuits in my mums morning coffee, leaving biscuit crumbs floating in the cup like soggy wheat icebergs.

Being British, I’ve always felt like the odd one out because of my 'take it or leave it' attitude towards drinking tea. I drink it in the office at work but only because it's there and it gets me away from my desk for a short time and involved in the office gossip in the works kitchen.

For me, it's fresh, ground coffee every time.

As well as giving you a lovely little pick-me up, coffee can actually be beneficial for your garden in a number of different ways too.

If coffee is your thing, it's more than likely that you've enjoyed your tipple in one of the many coffee shop chains across the nation. You know the ones....the places where you have to hover expectantly at the end of the counter, wondering; did they write my name down right? Have they called my name out already? Have I missed my order? That's right, I'm talking about Starbucks. (I'm using Starbucks as an example but I'm pretty sure most coffee shops will do this for you).

Starbucks will very kindly bag up their loose, used coffee grounds and let you have them for free.

Now you’ve bagged yourself some used coffee grounds, what on earth do you do with them when you get them home?

Coffee grounds can be very beneficial for your garden whether it be used or unused. Used coffee grounds have a much lower pH level of around 6.5, so they are fairly neutral which means they can be used on their own around your plants as a kind of very light mulch (don't go too thick with it), or mixed together with compost/leaf-mould. By doing this, your adding organic material to your soil, helping with water retention, aeration and drainage. You’re also helping to encourage microorganisms and a visit from every gardeners' friend, the earthworm.

Some gardeners also say that sprinkling used coffee grounds around your plants helps to prevent slug and snail attacks. The thinking behind this is that the caffeine in the coffee has a negative impact on the greedy molluscs. For me, I'm not entirely convinced by this theory, given that caffeine is fairly water soluble which would result in there being very little left in the coffee grounds, but it's definitely worth a go isn't it, what's the worst that can happen?

If you're in a hurry you can just put your used grounds straight on your compost heap which will help add some much needed nitrogen, and if I'm honest is exactly what I tend to do with them. Don't forget, you always need a nice even balance of ingredients in your compost heap so if you are adding coffee grounds (classed as greens due to the nitrogen content), don't forget to add some browns too, like cardboard, straw or paper for example.

If you’re feeling REALLY fancy, you can use fresh unused coffee grounds in your garden too. Fresh coffee is very acidic so plants like your blueberries & hydrangeas with really enjoy a sprinkling around them. Alternatively, if you mix a little with your soil when you’re planting/sowing your carrots or radishes, you should see an improvement in your end harvest.

Whether you go with used or unused coffee grounds, remember everything in moderation, don't go mad with it, because like with most things, you can often do more harm than good if you use too much.

So, if you use coffee grounds from your coffee machine at home or from a well known coffee establishment, just remember when you've finished your coffee, don't forget to treat your garden to a little too.

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