Monday, March 31, 2014

You must really like coffee!

As spring approaches (Marash Girl does not believe that it has, in fact, arrived yet), Marash Girl's thoughts turn to . . . coffee . . . or rather, coffee grounds . . . and what, exactly do coffee grounds have to do with spring?  Glad that you asked.

Once Marash Girl began gardening (she has turned her small grassy(?) plot in front of the house into what will one day, she hopes, become a perennial flower garden), she began her search for compost, and the easiest compost to acquire? . . . coffee grounds . . . and the closest storehouse of coffee grounds? . . . . Starbucks!  Starbucks will save up their coffee grounds for you providing you provide them early in the day with a five gallon bucket in which to store their used coffee grounds, AND providing you pick up that bucket full of coffee grounds at the end of the day.

Thus Marash Girl arrived at the Starbucks on Galen Street in Newton Corner early one morning last spring carrying a large orange bucket.

Eyeing the big orange bucket, the fellow standing in line behind Marash Girl, waiting to order his favorite brew commented, "You must really like coffee!"

While it is widely thought that coffee grounds are acidic, it has been shown that most of this acidity is removed in the brewing process. Used grounds are essentialy neutral and composting them with other materials will buffer any minor residual acidity.  


  1. So...Now you are brewing a bed...of flowers?

  2. The Big Gulp equivalent of Starbucks coffee. I have this image of Starbucks marketing staff coming up with names for a 5 gallon cup of coffee...Grande Venti?...Muchas Grande Venti?...Grande Grande Venti?...Gigantesco?

    pH levels aside...Perhaps your flowers will never sleep...Or you can help me answer a longstanding question. In 9th grade Biology, for my end of year project, I fed African Violets caffeine at various levels to see if there was any change on their rate of growth. Unfortunately, they all died within a week. Even my control specimen. I think I over-watered them. Does caffeine help plants grow more quickly? Ever since, I've been searching for a research biologist to help me answer this question.

    1. Well, you may have found a research biologist by now, but my take on your questions is that most plants love mulch, (not caffeine) and hate to be overwatered, and don't forget that African violets grow on the forest floor, so it may have not been the water or the caffeine; it may have been too much sun that killed your plants . . . Hard to imagine that in New England, but then, perhaps you were not doing your research in New England . . .

    2. Indeed, I have found a research biologist--who has answered many more fundamental questions that I have had. I think this one may be a bit too esoteric. While I conducted my research in Northern VA, I don't think sun was a factor. Either way, it sounds like I might do well to conduct this experiment again with a bucket full of Starbucks coffee grinds, Marash Girl as a an advisor, and with my most gracious research biologist to oversee the design of the experiment. You might even suggest someone with a horticulture background from the MA area who could help. Perhaps I could even get some neighborhood kids involved. Lots of possibilities!

    3. Just volunteer at the upcoming plant exchange sponsored by Newton Parks and Recreation on Vernon Street in Newton Corner -- lots of experts will be there to advise you (both pro and con -- you'll have to be the final arbiter) June 14/15!

    4. I certainly wouldn't water ANY plants with coffee! Coffee grounds provide mulch and very slow seepage of caffeine as you water the plant, which hopefully will not harm the plant. Can you imagine what happens when you drown yourself in coffee? And how much tinier the plant is than you?

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