Square Foot Garden: Coffee, Anyone?

I’m on the lookout for free amendments for my garden. One of the ladies from the church went to an organic gardening workshop put on my the local conference but everything they mention has to be bought. I want FREE. I need to pay nada nothing zero dollars. I started Googling again when a couple of tomato plants were looking sickly and found I’d probably put too much epsom salts in the holes when I planted them. It robs nitrogen so I Googled that. It’s when I came up with last week’s post about the Pee Project. Then I Googled on.

The next thing that caught my eye was coffee grounds. I’d already been collecting them (when I remembered to) from the breakroom coffee maker to take home for Ralphs. The pitiful amounts I got from there barely filled one of the tiny styrofoam bowls in the cabinet. I read that coffee grounds were good for the compost pile and could fill in for the “green” component. That would be good because I hadn’t had much “green” to put in and it was ending up a slimy mess.

Going farther, I found out that tomatoes and peppers love coffee grounds. They could either be worked into the soil or put around them like a fine mulch. Since I don’t have the equipment to work them in after the fact, I figured mulch would be the route I’d take. But where could I get that quantity? I don’t drink coffee and my neighbors use instant. Well, the hospital/nursing home has a huge coffee maker and they brew it three times a day. I contacted the supervisor and asked if it would be too much trouble to save the grounds for me. She said to bring a big container and they’d fill it up.

The first time I picked them up, someone had laboriously cleaned out the filters and it was nothing but the coffee grounds. It was heavy heavy. The next time, there was a little puddle down in the bottom because they had forgotten me. I told the supervisor there was no need for them to clean out the filters—I could put them in the compost bin. That would make it harder on me but easier on them and I didn’t want to put the staff out.

Container with Coffee Grounds

Then, when I picked up the filters and all, I found the filters were big enough to wear as a head scarf. HUGE! They would be very good in the compost bin. I read they can be used as mulch, too, but to shred them first. Well, I’m not going to go into the Used Coffee Filter Shredding Business.

Huge Coffee Filter and My Left Foot

As I get them, sometimes I put some in Ralph’s bin and the rest goes around my tomatoes and peppers.

Here they are when they are fresh:

Fresh Coffee Grounds

And dried out:

Dry Grounds

One of the staff told me if I brought a larger container they could give me more. I thought about buying a little garbage can but I didn’t want to buy anything. This is gardening on a budget since I already sank most of my tax refund in getting everything set up. I thought and thought and couldn’t think of anything I could use that was at home and readily available until! I spied my recycled coolers Twinkle’s food used to come in. Perfect! Small enough I should be able to carry them with no problem and large enough to hold a good quantity. I am pretty much stacked up with them because it was only the last two that were sent with labels to send them back. I’d tried to give them away without any success and now it’s paying off.

I got out one of the smaller ones for the coffee grounds and two of the larger ones to catch rainwater. The lids on the rainwater ones will keep the mosquitoes out. I have another smaller one, too, that I may swap out with the other one for grounds so I can bring one in when I take one out. I’m cookin’ with gas now! Which I don’t do. It’s just an expression, folks.

In this picture, you can see a lot of my family members. The ones on the left are my sister and me. Next to us are DS1 and his family. Then the Sunbonnet Sue is DD. You can barely see DS2 and his wife and the man in the front is my father.

Cooler and Family

One of my rainwater catchers:

Catchin' Rainwater

And now for a view of my tomato/basil/pepper/onion jungle

Tomato/Basil/Pepper/Onion Jungle

and one of the watermelon/cucumber/cilanto/dill/pepper/arugula jungle in the making. I’ve been having arugula to munch on the past few days. Delicious!!

Conglomeration Jungle

Here’s a close up of ONE of the blossoms on my Pink German Queen heirloom tomato. It is full of petals like a tiny peony. I’ve never seen the like. You can click on the picture and see it larger. The top of the bloom is next.

Pink German Queen Heirloom Tomato Blossom

Top of the Queen Blossom

None of the other blossoms on that plant are like the large one.

As for the smaller boxes I had last year…the lettuce could be cut now but I have a couple more packages I got at Aldi that I need to use before I make inroads on this.


My onions are still rather small as far as the circumference is concerned though I’ve been pulling them every now and then just to munch on or cut up into my salad. Last year, I bought some wonderful tiny cherry tomatoes from the produce stand a man sets up every summer over on the highway. I let some of them rot and get dried out, then scattered them on the little garden. Now some of them are coming up. You can see one in the nearest left frame of the box. When they get big enough, I’ll take them out, then mix in some of the extra mushroom dirt my neighbor hauled in for me. After that, I’ll replant maybe two and give the rest away.

Green Onions

Here’s my pile of mushroom dirt:

Mushroom Dirt

I’ve planted some onion sets my neighbor gave me around the tomato plants and they’re growing like weeds. Speaking of weeds, they aren’t a bother with Square Foot Boxes.

More Onions

If all this works out, I’ll have plenty to eat and plenty to give away. After I retire, I can set up a stand myself and supply all the raw vegans in the region.

2 Responses to Square Foot Garden: Coffee, Anyone?

  1. Lila June 5, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    Your garden is beautiful! I hope your preventive measures work to keep the creatures out.


    • Tommie June 5, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

      Thank you, dear sister! So far, so good, where the critters are concerned. MJ’s moth balls seem to be doing the trick. I spotted some of the leaves with a fungus (#12 on this site) and cried aloud and spared not. Hope that’s the end of that.

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