If you’ve found yourself wondering if coffee grounds are a good fertilizer for strawberries, or what else you can fertilize your strawberry plants with, keep reading!
Strawberry plants can be finicky! Strawberry plants prefer slightly acidic soil, ranging around 5.3 pH to 6.5 pH. The pH of your soil can be tricky to get right in a vegetable garden because different plants prefer different acidity levels. Strawberries are perennial plants, meaning they will keep coming back year after year. If you grow plants from seed, it will take a few years to start getting a harvest. You can also buy starter plants from a nursery or greenhouse to get a quicker harvest!
In the first year after planting the new plants, your fruit production will be lower than in subsequent years. The good news is in the second year you will really see major growth. Strawberry plants also send out runners. This means the established plants will send out a stem with a baby plant on the end. This baby plant will take root and eventually become a mature plant producing fruit on its own.
Are Coffee Grounds Good Fertilizer for Strawberries
Coffee grounds can absolutely be a good fertilizer for acid-loving plants like strawberries! Strawberry plants do not like to be in wet garden soil. They prefer a well draining soil, rich in organic matter, and, if possible, one with a sandy loam. This means there is a sand component to the soil. With this type of well-draining soil, strawberry plants need to be watered more frequently.
A word of encouragement: I do not have great soil. My garden soil is full of clay and generally pretty hard. I am still able to successfully grow strawberries every year. Plants don’t need perfect growing conditions (as you can tell from my pictures), they just need “good enough.” It is always a good idea to do what you can to provide lots of nutrients to your plants, but if you cannot, that is okay too!
How to Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer for Strawberries
There are a few ways you can use coffee grounds as fertilizer for strawberries. First, is by directly sprinkling the coffee grounds around the base of the plant. Once watered in, the nutrients will soak into the soil and fertilize the strawberry plants. This works well because strawberry plants have shallow roots and the coffee grounds can easily reach the root systems to be absorbed by the plants.
Another way to use coffee grounds to fertilize your strawberry plants is to mix them into the garden soil before planting, or in a container, like a flower pot. Mixing the coffee grounds in with soil at about a ratio of 1:4 (coffee grounds : soil). This means for 1 cup of coffee grounds, you should mix with 4 cups of soil. A nutrient dense, well-draining soil with lots of organic matter will be your best bet.
A third way to use coffee grounds as fertilizer for strawberries is to mix the grounds into water. Letting the grounds soak in the water for a day or two will create a wonderful, nutrient rich liquid fertilizer for your strawberry patch! Mix about ½ cup of coffee grounds into a gallon of water and allow to soak 24-48 hours, mixing occasionally. This will allow the nutrients to disperse throughout the water, creating an all natural liquid fertilizer.
Benefits of Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer (for strawberries and other plants)
Coffee grounds are a natural fertilizer and could be the best fertilizer option if used properly. Coffee grounds do not contain harmful chemicals that some commercial fertilizers contain. Chemical fertilizers can be too potent if applied incorrectly, resulting in damaged plants, or plants receiving too much of the wrong nutrients. I always prefer an organic fertilizer, or at least something more natural.
Another benefit of using coffee grounds as fertilizer for your strawberries is that coffee is a natural pest control. Several insects and rodents dislike the smell/taste of the coffee grounds and will steer clear of your plants! Mosquitoes, rats and mice, ants, snails, wasps, and others cannot stand the smell of coffee grounds.
Another huge plus is that using coffee grounds for the purpose of fertilizing garden plants can reduce waste! You can use either spent or fresh coffee grounds for a natural fertilizer. If you don’t have a compost bin or a compost pile to throw your used coffee grounds, using them in the garden is a great way to reduce waste. Additionally, if you are already buying coffee grounds to make your morning coffee, then the spent coffee grounds are basically free fertilizer! Even if you are not buying coffee already, a small container of coffee grounds is only a few dollars.
Obviously, the biggest benefit to using coffee grounds as fertilizer for strawberries or other garden plants is the acidic nature and the nitrogen content. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth and is especially important when strawberry plants are in their growth stage and producing runner plants.
Downside of Using Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer for Strawberries
As with anything, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. The high acidity and nitrogen content of coffee grounds can be beneficial if your garden soil is lacking in these things. However, if your soil is already extremely nutrient dense, adding too much nitrogen can actually stunt the growth of the fruiting part of the plant. If a strawberry plant receives too much nitrogen, its leaves and greenery will grow super lush, but its fruit and flowers will suffer. Obviously we are growing strawberry plants for their fruit and not their leaves so this is an important consideration.
Consider getting a soil test to understand the soil structure in your garden. It is always a good idea to know where you are starting with your soil health. There are several good resources online but my personal favorite is Rx Soil. For $39.95 you get a soil test kit sent right to your door, scoop some soil samples, and drop it back in your mailbox. After a few days, they email you your results! They will recommend different soil amendment options (organic or conventional) to help you improve your soil!
Another major downside of using coffee grounds as fertilizer for your strawberries is that they can be toxic to our furry friends. If you have curious dogs and cats around your strawberry patch, it might be best to avoid using coffee grounds. A moderate amount of caffeine can be toxic to small dogs and cats, causing serious health implications.
Read more here about caffeine ingestion in pets.
Other Fertilizer Options for Healthy Growth in the Vegetable Garden
While coffee grounds are a wonderful option for fertilizing your strawberries, you may be growing additional garden plants, or looking for an alternative option! Some additional organic or natural options include things like banana peels, grass clippings, epsom salts, and more!
Banana Peels for Fertilizer
Banana peels can make a fertilizer that is great at adding potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium to the soil. Additionally, if you are using the whole or chopped up banana peel, you are adding organic matter to the soil, which can greatly improve soil health.
One way to use banana peels as fertilizer is to chop up the peels and mix them in with your soil. This will allow for a slow release of the nutrients into the soil over time. The smaller you cut the peel pieces, the faster they will decompose and release their nutrients into the soil. Best practice is to bury the peel pieces under and around the plant. This will encourage the plant to send its roots out towards the nutrients and therefore, develop a stronger and wider root network.
A second way to use the nutrients in banana peels is to soak them and create a banana peel compost tea of sorts! Soaking banana peels in water will allow the nutrients to leach out of the peel and into the water. This water then becomes a liquid fertilizer and can be applied directly onto the plants.
Grass Clippings as Soil Amendment
Grass clippings can be an amazing soil amendment! Not only will the fresh green grass clippings add organic matter to your soil, they will also release a punch of nitrogen! However, it is important to note that when grass clippings are not given oxygen (by being buried underground), their decomposition will take much longer.
Adding grass clippings to a compost bin that gets turned frequently or a compost pile that can be aerated (fluffed and turned to allow air circulation), will speed up the decomposition and allow the nutrients in the organic material to be more easily accessible. Shredding and chopping grass clippings as small as possible is the best way to speed up the process of them breaking down.
Check out this resource for making grass clipping compost tea! I have done this before for some plants that were in clear need of a nitrogen boost and it works wonders!
Epsom Salts for Garden Plants
Epsom salts are super high in magnesium. You may have heard of epsom salts for the purpose of soaking sore muscles. This is because magnesium helps soothe sore muscles by helping the tight muscles relax. Your plants also need magnesium! Magnesium is important for proper plant growth and flower formation.
Epsom salts can be dissolved in water to easily give your plants a drink of nutrition. You can dissolve about a tablespoon or two into a gallon of water and water your plants like normal. I would suggest only using this every once in a while as too much will stunt the plant’s growth.
You can also sprinkle epsom salts directly in or on top of the soil and then water in to help the nutrients absorb. According to SaltWorks, you only need about 1 cup of epsom salt per 100 square feet of garden space. When preparing your growing space, work the epsom salt into the soil for best results.
What is your Favorite Way to Fertilize Strawberries or Other Garden Plants?
Let me know in the comments what your favorite fertilizer option is! Have you tried any of the above methods? Did you have success? Do you have a better natural way to fertilize the garden soil? I would love to know!
I personally have seen great success with coffee grounds in the soil for strawberry plants and grass clipping compost teas. Both of these have been the perfect nitrogen punch for my plants and helped boost their growing speeds. I also love a grass clipping compost tea for watering seedlings!
Are you interested in starting your own seedlings indoors? I have a super comprehensive post about how to successfully start seeds indoors for a luscious vegetable garden! Find my post here all about starting seeds.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into Life at Metzger Acres!