Coffee grounds are known to be excellent organic materials. These organic materials, however, need to be composted before using them in your garden. Some Gardner’s make use of coffee grounds as a mulch around garden plants but this method cannot be totally approved. It is important to be aware that coffee grounds should only be added to any composting system a little at a time as too much of it at once will have a detrimental effect.
It is important to keep the compost in balance while also making an addition of plenty of carbon-rich materials. This is to avoid an anaerobic condition as the materials will decompose without oxygen thus, making the compost slimy and stinky.
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Another thing to take note of is the fact that coffee grounds can have antimicrobial properties. For home composting, the aim is to provide a suitable environment and conditions for aerobic decomposition, and for decomposition to take place, there is a need for oxygen, water, appropriate temperatures, and very importantly, a healthy population of microorganisms. Composting makes reliance on bacteria, fungi, and other life.
Adding too many coffee grounds to a composting system can harm the beneficial microbes upon which the system depends. The record has shown that the breakdown of coffee grounds in a composting system leads to a release of organic compounds and chemicals which eventually leads to an increase in the death rate of earthworms.
METHODS FOR COMPOSTING COFFEE GROUNDS
1) TYPICAL COLD COMPOSTING: This method involves making the addition of your “brown” and “green” materials to a bin, heap, or likewise, other containers. As these materials decompose, they do heat up to a degree in these systems.
2) HOT COMPOSTING: Here, the main aim is to achieve higher temperatures compared to the cold composting system. In this system, the materials tend to break down more quickly and temperatures of between 141°F and 155°F are to be achieved inside the bin or heap.
Hot composting coffee grounds in a heap, bin, or container will require certain steps. This is to ensure that the required temperatures are reached. In hot composting, it is essential that the heap should not be too small and more ideally no less than 4ft tall and 4ft wide.
This is to ensure that the materials heat up enough inside. Insulation can be achieved with a thick layer of straw or other carbon-rich materials around the outside. If a container is being used, ensure that the material can absorb and retain heat and also must be ventilated to prevent the mix from becoming anaerobic.
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3) BOKASHI SYSTEMS: Here, it can’t be totally described as composting but rather, more fermentation. However, it provides a means of managing coffee grounds and avoiding wastages. It is more preferable to ferment the coffee grounds first before adding them to a vermicomposting. This system works best when you have a large number of coffee grounds that you want to recycle into soil amendment for your garden.
4) VERMICOMPOSTING: This is also a popular composting method. This involved composting with worms. Even though coffee grounds should not be added into this system, a small quantity as a once-off won’t have much harm done as long as there is carbon-rich material in the system in abundance. However, it is best to avoid making it a habit due to its impact on the worms. If you wish to add more coffee grounds to your vermicomposting system, then it is best to ferment your food waste in a bokashi system first before proceeding.
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I hope this article helps you understand how to use and avoid too many coffee grounds in your compost. I would like to hear from you. Let me know if you have any questions about using coffee grounds in compost. These objects do not easily turn into compost like human waste. Asides from that, they will only make the cleaning of the pit more difficult and more dangerous in the case of glass. Thus, always ensure that foreign objects are thrown into a bin rather than a pit. (Recommended: Check these best books about composting here)