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Free Garden Grounds at Starbucks

Here in my town many restaurants and retail shops are struggling, but we still have TWO Starbucks. Everybody needs their fix. Starbucks, ubiquitious as they are across America, are a reasonably green company and they do offer free WIFI these days. So yay, them.

An extraordinary new thing that Starbucks offers are free used coffee grounds. You can walk into any Starbucks and ask for a bag of used coffee grounds for your houseplants, garden, or compost heap. This is rich ‘green’ material in composter parlance, with a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20-1. Mixed with the ‘browns’ from your yard wastes (leaves, mulch, sawdust, wood chips), you can create an ideal plant additive or soil amendment.

To test this new Starbucks plan I went into the Basha’s Starbucks – the one inside the grocery store. I asked for the free coffee grounds for my garden and hoped they knew what I was talking about. They DID! They smiled and gave me a five pound bag of rich black spent grounds.

They slapped a sticker over the bag, saying, “Free” and “Grounds for your Garden.” The instructions include: ‘Add directly to your garden…or to your compost.’ They suggest mixing browns to both and to use the grounds within 2-3 weeks of brewing to capture the most nutritional value. The used grounds have an average pH of 6.9.

Then I went to my other local Starbucks and asked for grounds. There I got two large trash bags worth!

This was fantastic, as my hardpacked soil has been ignored for decades and seriously needs some full scale amendment work. I plan to add layers of newspapers, coffee grounds and mulch to the yard, and let it cook all winter.

I already added the small grounds bag to my container plants – tomatoes, basil and thyme, with a bit of mulch.

Taking free spent grounds from Starbucks is a win-win situation:

* We - the consumer - get free ‘black gold’ for our gardens, houseplants and compost bins. Buying packaged fertilizer from nurseries and big box stores is on the expensive side. These coffee grounds are completely free to you.
* Starbucks gets to decrease their waste footprint and come up smelling green.
* Together we are keeping useful, nutritious wastes from mummifying in our local landfill.

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