It is just about planting time for the garden at the farm.  Well, actually, it already is for some of our Heirloom Seeds and Plants like our onions, sugar snap peas, cabbage and potatoes – which all went in the ground this week. But in a few weeks we will be planting the remainder of our big summer garden crops of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and more – and as always – coffee grounds and egg shells will be a big part of the process.

Growing Rows
The growing rows are covered in a rich and thick coat of annual rye – ready to be turned under and planted with this year’s garden crops in a few weeks

I am amazed every year at how much more fertile our soil has become using simple, sustainable and organic practices.  By utilizing cover crops of annual rye each fall, and adding in generous amounts of compost to our growing rows each season – the soil has become dark and rich – and more importantly – easier to work with each passing season.

As we turned a few rows of our annual rye cover crop over this week – the soil lifted easily and teemed with hundreds of worms and dark organic matter underneath.

It is always such a neat contrast to see the bright green color of the annual rye cover crop mixing into the dark, rich soil.

Crushed egg shells add calcium to the soil
Crushed egg shells add calcium to the soil

But when it comes to planting time – there is one more practice that we have employed each year that really helps provide extra protection and a big growing boost for our plants – and it comes straight from the breakfast table.

That practice is using egg shells and coffee grounds when we plant – both in the planting hole and around each plant.

Crushed egg shells add much-needed calcium to the soil as they break down – which can help prevent blossom rot in tomatoes. Blossom rot is better known to most as “those dreaded black spots” that form on the end of tomatoes, peppers and squash that can all but ruin a crop. It just so happens that blossom rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil – which crushed egg shells can help to add back.

Coffee grounds are a great addition to planting holes and around plants as well
Coffee grounds are a great addition to planting holes and around plants as well

Along with those egg shells we add in a few tablespoons of coffee grounds to the planting hole as well. Coffee grounds release nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other minerals as they break down – acting as a great natural slow-release fertilizer to the plants.

After we finish with the planting hole – we crush a few more egg shells and add a few more teaspoons of coffee grounds around the base of each plant as well. 

Again – they will add nutrients to the soil as they break down – but they also help to control any slug populations that may try to get to the plants – as the crushed shells can deter the slugs with their sharp edges.

Healthy tomato plants from last year growing with the help of coffee grounds and egg shells
Healthy tomato plants from last year growing with the help of coffee grounds and egg shells

It really is a great feeling to know that there is simply no need to use synthetic fertilizers or sprays to have a great garden. Beyond all of the obvious health benefits – it is extremely inexpensive – making it a win-win!

So sit back, and enjoy a cup of coffee and a few farm fresh eggs, and know that not only is it delicious – but the leftover egg shells and coffee ground will have a second life in helping your garden this summer!

To find out more about our planting and gardening process – you can check out a few more popular garden hints and tips articles here:

How To Create A Simple Raised Row Garden

Planting With A Post Hole Digger

5 Ways To Use Compost Effectively

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Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!




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25 thoughts on “Planting The Garden – Why Coffee Grounds and Egg Shells are a Gardener’s Best Friend!

  • January 20, 2016 at 7:59 pm
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    That’s great. But here in Texas our soil is alkaline and I have read that coffee grounds is good for acidic soil but not our Texas earth. Then again, I read that coffee grounds are PH neutral, although they do help balance acidic soil. I used to put coffee grounds in my alkaline soil, but now, because of the things that I’ve read, I’m afraid to do it. Any thoughts on that?

  • June 28, 2015 at 9:03 am
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    In the “old day” (30’s through 60’s) farmers used to bury old pieces of metal (steel) like broken hand tools or farm equipment as well as empty cans, and shavings of iron from grinding machines to enrich the soil with those minerals. They did this when rotating crops so that area had a break and was able to restore itself before re-planting it. They also included left-over plant parts when stilling the soil to help keep the soil aerated and loose.

  • June 10, 2015 at 2:03 pm
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    Reblogged this on Everything Seasonal and commented:
    Fantastic way to reuse what you may think of as waste in your garden that you throw away almost every day.

  • May 19, 2015 at 11:23 am
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    I’m thinking of trying this when I plant my tomatoes this week. Should the grounds and eggshells be dried and mixed together?

  • May 19, 2015 at 8:35 am
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    I get what they do for the garden plants. What I don’t know is how much in each planting hole? Does that matter?

  • May 5, 2015 at 7:56 am
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    We have a “resident” racoon in the area…..so am thinking that as much good the egg sheel do for the earth…..I had better pass on implementing this action!…..lololol

  • May 4, 2015 at 9:16 pm
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    How far in advance prior to planting do you turn over your cover crop?

      • May 19, 2015 at 4:46 am
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        Hello from Maine, I just discovered your beautiful farm and website. I have some newly built garden beds with ‘new soil & compost’. Would love to improve the soil even more planting. I plan on planting my vegetable garden the end of May, beginning of June. Do you think I have time for some buckwheat or rye? Can you plant immediately after turning? Thank you for your time.
        Rachel

  • May 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm
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    Hello!
    I read in some sites that coffee grounds “steal” some nutrients of the soil while it decomposes. Then they recomend to do a separated decomposing. Do you know about it? (My english is not that good anymore, sorry for that) thanks!

    • May 5, 2015 at 6:17 am
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      Tadeu, thank you for your comment – we have heard that as well – but is one of those garden myths. They will only add to your soil’s health. Happy Gardening!

  • May 4, 2015 at 3:10 am
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    Where can the annual rye be purchased? Any certain type that you recommend? Thanks!

  • May 3, 2015 at 4:38 pm
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    Hi Jim and Mary, I was so bummed about your neighbor and the bad spraying antics that I stepped up the prayers and stopped reading the blogs-so I don’t know what the very latest is, can I get a quick update on the current state of the Farm, please?

    Re: eggshells, I save my organic eggshells-allow them to dry in an empty egg carton, then put them in la very large, (convenience store grande- sized fountain drink cup}, and pound them with a wooden mortar until they are pulverized, but not into the size of salt grains.

    Whenever I have organic coffee-I put the grounds in a small rectangular dish on the window sill, when dry-I put on top of the eggshells that I’ve already collected in a plastic jug with the top part cut off- from there–into the garden.

    Hoping you both continued wellness, happiness and the resolve to defend yourselves and The OWG!………………………………………………………………….♥

  • May 3, 2015 at 11:14 am
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    Hello there fellow gardener, a question for you.. About the egg shells.. do you just crush them with your hands or do you blend them into a dust? I’ve tried crushing with my hands and placing them around the plants, but that didn’t keep the army of slugs away.. This year I’m trying to grind them to almost salt size.. any advice would be helpful.. Oh I’ve tried the beer too but it rains too much and dilutes it too fast.. Take care and a great post you have here with very helpful info…

    From Laura in Ontario, Canada

    • May 3, 2015 at 11:36 am
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      Thank you Laura – we have always just crushed them and mixed them with the coffee grounds around the plants. I know that in some areas – slugs can be a real problem!

      • May 4, 2015 at 6:19 am
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        oldworldgarden, thanking you kindly for your response. I never thought to use the shells, and grounds in the hole too. So, I’ll be trying that also to improve the plants.. I think my hostas is too close to where I put my little raised garden bed, a few year ago, so I didn’t realize the slugs were as bad as all that, plus the last two years have been heavy with rain all gardening season, which drew them in as well.. I look forward to reading your blogs and getting more good advice for gardening .. have a great week ahead..

        Take care and happy gardening from Laura…

  • May 3, 2015 at 11:00 am
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    We’ve been saving our egg shells and coffee grounds! Can’t wait to get planting!

  • May 3, 2015 at 10:17 am
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    I’ve been collecting my eggshells all winter now, but I don’t drink coffee. Would tea leaves work as well?

    • May 3, 2015 at 11:38 am
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      I don’t think that they would have the same nutrients – but you may be able to have a neighbor or two save the coffee grounds for you 🙂

      • May 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm
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        Our Starbucks stores keep bags of used coffee grounds that gardeners can go into the store and request. I have gone in many times and they are happy to hand them to you, sometimes they don’t have any to give because they already gave them out!

      • May 3, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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        Lots of coffee shops will give you their used grounds. I know our local Starbucks saves theirs in big bags for gardeners and other shops do the same.

  • May 3, 2015 at 9:50 am
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    Do you have to sterilize the egg shells, ie boiling, before using them?

    • May 3, 2015 at 11:37 am
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      No – not at all – mother nature takes care of that out in the sun and rain 🙂

  • May 3, 2015 at 9:00 am
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    Thanks so much for the great tips! We will be trying this! Because of having 50 chickens we don’t get much compost. It is egg shells and coffee grounds, so we will definitely be using it as you suggested. Last year was our first year to plant our own seeds inside, it was not the best year. I ended up with very little tomatoes. We figured out what we did wrong and this year our 52 tomato plants are looking awesome! We are in the hardening off process. A couple of years ago we took your advice and planted the annual rye and it made a HUGE difference in the size of our produce and our harvest of everything else last year. And are looking forward to planting this year 😀 Again thank you so much for your blog and all the great tips you give!

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