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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Coffee Grounds and Wood Ash for Soil Fertility

Coffee grounds collected from coffee-shops.
Since we began weening ourselves off the use of animal manures as a source of soil fertility, we have turned increasingly to leaves, grass-clippings, wood-ash and coffee grounds as a replacement. Here is a summary of our "Deep Mulch Method" in which we cover the topic of leaves and grass and other organic materials in our gardens.

Regarding coffee:

Coffee grounds provide generous amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. They also release nitrogen into the soil as they degrade. When we have it, we spread it about 1/2" thick on beds before we plant. We also layer it into our compost piles. Here's an informative article about "Using Coffee-Grounds in the Garden".


We sift both our coffee grounds and wood-ashes. Here are students from OSU performing "service-learning" at the Sharing Gardens.
...and Wood Ash:

Wood Ashes provide all necessary nutrients for plant growth except nitrogen and sulfur.  We use ashes from our wood-stove (that heats our house). We use only newspaper to start the fires and burn pure wood. We don't burn anything with paint; no ply-wood or other man-made products so the chemicals in them don't get into our food-chain. We sift the ashes to remove any big chunks, and use a heavy-duty magnet to remove any screws or nails.  

Be very careful not to use too much! We put just the lightest dusting in our beds. Do not use wood-ash to make a potting soil. It is caustic to worms and will alkalize your soil so use only a little, and wait 7-10 days before planting seeds or seedlings. Do not use around acid-loving plants (like blueberries, or in potato-beds). Article from our local University Extension Service: "Wood Ashes Can Benefit Lawns and Gardens".

Heating with wood has many benefits. Here's a wood-stove in one of our greenhouses we made from a barrel-kit.
Here's Caleb - our youngest coffee-spreader!



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