Tag Archives: garden soil

Value of Coffee Grounds in Garden Soil

Coffee Grounds are a Valuable Amendment to Garden Soil

Did you ever wonder if coffee grounds are good for the garden or for compost?  I pick up free coffee grounds from Starbucks whenever I have the opportunity.

Not all Starbucks give away free coffee grounds.  Even so, some of them will still give you coffee grounds if you call ahead and ask them. They will want to know when you will pick them up. Usually the workers are very friendly and helpful.  Several stores put out used coffee grounds out on a regular basis.  I put them in my compost and they are great!  They can also be dug into the soil in your garden.

Read this post about getting coffee grounds on the NJ Turnpike!

The Soil and Plant Laboratory did a special analysis of coffee grounds in garden soil for the Sunset website.  They found that using Starbucks coffee grounds will improve the soil structure. They recommend digging them into the garden.  They can just as easily be used in the Compostumbler.  I get great results puttting them in my compost.

Read the full report here on the value of coffee grounds in garden soil.

Is Galvanized Steel Harmful to the Soil

Could the bio-digester which is galvanized steel leach out zinc and be harmful to the garden soil?

In my last post I discussed a new method of worm composting mentioned on the internet. It is called a bio-digester and involves planting a small galvanized steel trash can with holes drilled into the soil about 3-6 inches. After I started to think about it I wondered if the chemicals from the steel would leach into the soil. Galvanized steel is made using zinc. I don’t want to put anything into my garden which could be harmful.  A few years ago I wanted to build raised beds using treated lumber.  I purchased the lumber and had it cut for the raised beds and then realized that the chemicals in the wood could leach out into the soil so I never used it.  If you are looking for an alternative to a galvanized steel planter you could click on this picture for a nice self-watering planter.

After researching on the internet I found a site called www.finishing.com and a forum discussing the poisonous aspects of galvanized steel.  Mostly there are questions from people who work with making galvanized steel but here and there I found questions about using it in the garden.  Since they are spaced throughout the page I copied the relevant questions and pasted them below.  If you click on the link above you can read through the whole forum:

May 28, 2009

Hi Ted! I have a question – I put galvanized fencing around my strawberry patch (to keep the birds out) and I’m wondering if that’s unsafe (could zinc leach into the soil, etc). In a previous post you stated that galvanized metal is not safe for food, but you also said that it’s okay for bath water. Thanks in advance for your response!

Catherine Chandler
– Orrville, Ohio

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May 29, 2009

Hi, Catherine. Galvanized fencing is fine. When we say it’s not food-safe we mean you should not cook in zinc pots or serve food out of zinc containers because of the possibility of acidic food or drink dissolving the zinc, and you consuming too much of it. Zinc is not poison; cold prevention tablets are one example of the deliberate consumption of zinc.

Regards,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

April 6, 2010

I would like to make balcony veggie garden boxes made from galvanized metal. These boxes will match the house.  Will the zinc leach into my soil and poison my vegetables?

Catherine Harley
– Boulder, Colorado
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April 6, 2010

Hi, Catherine. No, it won’t.

Regards,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

October 12, 2010
I see people using galvanized metal containers to grow vegetables. With water containing chlorides (salts), fertilizers containing salts, and eloctrolysis in the ground, I am wondering where the metals, etc are going when they dissolve. Is this not a hazard to eat food grown this way. Some even “line the galvanized container, but guarantee not to corrode for 8 years. So am I consuming heavy metals for 8 years until I replace the container?
Thanks

Alex Kallas
Sustainable agriculture educator – Vista, California, USA

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October 12, 2010

Hi, Alex. The MDR for zinc is 15 mg, and it is fairly common to take 100 mg per day for short periods to help ward off colds and flu. Although it is bad for welders to breathe zinc fumes, and it may be bad to put acidic foods into contact with zinc, zinc is not plutonium. Farm animals eat and drink out of galvanized troughs all the time, and in rural areas, people collect rainwater from galvanized roofs. It will take years for all of the galvanizing to dissolve into the soil, probably decades more for all of it to be taken up into the plants; then much of the plant will be thrown away or composted and only a fraction eaten.  I doubt that the vegetables have much chance of providing your MDR let alone deterring colds.

The term “heavy metals” is often used in an alarmist context, and it can be obfuscatory because it implies commonality between the dangers from tin, iron, gold and zinc on the one hand with cadmium, lead, and mercury on the other.

Regards,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

So it seems that it would be allright to bury the trash can as suggested in the online course.  So my next step would be to find proper drill bits to drill in metal.  One great thing about this trash can is the lid fits very tightly so that no wildlife can get into the compost for a nice dinner.

Do you have any interest in composting?? Worm composting is an easy way to get started!

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