Recycling coffee pods can become a chore, especially if you drink lots of coffee every day and don’t have many ideas for reusing the pods. One seasonal idea is to include them in your gardening efforts by starting seeds in coffee pods. You can also use them to root small cuttings from bigger plants. You’ll find they’re just the right size for both.
When using a K cup seed starter, keep the paper liner in place. All parts of the pod except the tear off lid are useful in the seed starting process.
Coffee Grounds in the Soil
Mix the used coffee grounds into part of your seed starting soil if you wish to try using them for this purpose. Used coffee grounds contain nitrogen that’s good for plants, as well as acid, which is good for certain plants like tomatoes, roses and blueberries. Or, use the grounds around plants already growing outside, just mixing them into the top layer of soil. You may want to just dispose of the grounds, but you’ll still have made a great recycling effort by creating coffee pod planters.
The pods have sufficient drainage from the holes already into them by your coffee maker. If you tend to get a little heavy-handed when watering your seeds, punch another hole in the bottom. Remember, when you’re sprouting seeds, they need a soil mix that is consistently moist, but not wet. If extra drain holes help you accomplish this, feel free to add them. There are plants that take up water and absorb nutrients better when growing in consistently moist soil.
Labels for the Pods
Label each pod individually. Ice cream sticks or small labels can be easily moved from the pod into a bigger container as the plant grows. Numerous labels and decals to use for this purpose are sold inexpensively on Etsy or the hobby aisle in many stores.
Get creative and find labels for free around the house. A broken set of blinds has the potential to label 100 plants if you cut them to a certain size.
Find a plastic tray or pan that’s the right size to hold your finished pods. It’s much easier to move them as needed if they’re all together. Get all your needed items together before you start planting your seeds into k cups.
Planting Seeds in Coffee Pods
When you have everything together, collect your seeds and fill the pods with soil. Decide ahead of time how many cups you’ll devote to each plant. Moisten the soil before adding it to the pods or water it after planting. Read the directions on the seed packet to see how deeply to plant each seed. Using more than one seed per pod makes the best chance of sprouting one in each container.
Locate your unsprouted seeds in a bright, shaded area at first. Increase sun and turn the tray as seeds sprout and grow. Harden off the seedlings gradually, and move them to bigger containers when the sprouts have grown three or four true leaves. Most plants benefit from being transplanted at least once.
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Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.