Why used coffee grounds may be doing your plants more harm than good

R126CH Unrecognisable woman in casual clothing holding a box of used coffee ground to use as compost in her garden.


WANDERING around an achingly cool San Francisco coffee shop a few years ago, I was fascinated to see huge, open-topped barrels filled with used coffee grounds and a sign saying they were free for customers to scoop into recycled bags and take home to perk up their plants. I realised that we had reached peak hipster.

Indeed, the claim that coffee waste dramatically boosts plant growth has been a staple of organic gardening books since at least the 1970s, and seems to be seeing a modern renaissance. Proponents everywhere wax lyrical about how the spent grounds are not only rich …

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