The key to your success with compost might be at your local coffee shop. Oddly enough, used coffee grounds are a green in the composting world (meaning it’s high in nitrogen). In fact, its a fabulous green in many ways. Coffee grounds are readily available year round in sufficient quantities for whatever compost you want to put together. (Unlike grass clippings that only happen in the summer.) Coffee grounds don’t have pathogens like other sources of nitrogen one might use in compost (like manure). Besides, where’re you going to get a steady supply of manure if you live in the suburbs? Coffee grounds are already in small pieces, which helps speed up the process, and they’re readily available for free. Coffee grounds also won’t add weed seeds to your compost. Coffee grounds won’t add chemicals to your pile that could kill your garden later either.
Most Starbucks keep their coffee grounds separated out from the rest of their trash. If you stop by and let them know you’d like grounds, they’ll give you whatever they have. You’ll be keeping it out of the trash, and you’ll be treating yourself to some great compost. If you live in a Starbucks free zone (do those exist?) then stop by your independent coffee shop or maybe even the 7-11 on the corner and ask them to save grounds for you. I have a school right behind my house and I have them saving grounds. People are usually more than willing as long as you remember to pick up the grounds regularly so they don’t make a mess. And it’s free!
Once you have your bags of coffee grounds, just layer them in with whatever brown material you’re using. Remember your three to one ratio. (Three parts browns to one part greens.) After you get it all layered up, that pile is going to heat up within a couple of days. You’ll be surprised and amazed by how hot it will get. There’s almost nothing that intrigues me more than a steaming compost pile. But, maybe that’s just me.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.caffesociety.co.uk)