TOTAF is the new BOGOF

Gardening is great – obviously, or you and I wouldn't be here now - but sometimes a day away is also nice. However, the garden is never far away even when trundling down the M1 towards the home of cricket (for what would eventually result in a rather historic game).  A rather urgent comfort break included a much-needed coffee.

And that’s where I realised that I will never get away from the garden, even early on a Saturday morning on the motorway.

One of the big coffee shop chains situated at the service station was giving away their old coffee grounds for use in the garden. That’s giving away; free; 100% discount; gratis; on the house; take one take another free (TOTAF).  So, I did. After all it was free and worth a second whirl.

It’s at this time of year everyone is fretting about slugs and snail. With a little research, I quickly found many gardeners use old coffee grounds to deter slugs and snails (TOTAF are officially the best in my eyes - not actually in my eyes as that would smart a bit, but you know what I mean). Some basic research found out more. No surprise there.

Coffee grounds can also be added to compost heaps to help the rotting process and provide material to act as a balance to everything else you bung in, chop up and stir about. That bit makes sense. Coffee beans are, after all, from a plant and therefore can be added to your grass clippings, cardboard and other vegetable peelings to make the best crumbly compost ever. But the label reckons ‘experts’ say to add up to 20% of grounds - that’s a heck of a lot.

There are other factors to think about when using this free gift from a multinational organisation.

Coffee grounds are slightly acidic. Ever so lower than pH 7 but acidic all the same. Now, if you put 20% by volume of the things in a compost heap, mix it all around, allow to rot and then use, I reckon the compost will be acidic. And earthworms, those essential creatures of the deep, don’t like it too acidic. Will I actually be poisoning the worms in trying to help my plants which in turn will suffer from the worms turning on their heels? (Don’t post a comment -  I know they don’t have any). 20% is a lot. 19% is still lots. 10% is a big old bulk of the things. You get my drift.

But I am not decrying the use of them in compost heaps. Nor am I putting anyone or any company off giving freebies to gardeners. Just be careful with the advice. And that brings me back to slugs and snails. Coffee grounds won’t kill them. It may deter them if sprinkled around susceptible plants.  And that’s ‘may’ as I know this will open a real can of worms. That’s if they haven't turned on their metaphorical heels and taken up residence in a tea drinking household next door.


Other TOTAFs 

I haven't found any yet but how about:

  • Spent hops from any local brewery (great soil conditioner)
  • Spare or unwanted wool from commercial knitters before any dyeing process (feels lovely and good for lining hanging baskets)
  • Hair from hairdressers (said to deter foxes but I’m not sure. That’s not sure about a) asking and b) touching it!)
  • Scratchy toe nail clippings from podiatrists will surely put off snails (see hair above!)
  • Sewage farms for processed and sterilised and therefore safe…. product! OK, I’ve now gone too far but it makes hair, toenail clippings, wool and spent hops more pleasant to think about.


That bag of coffee grounds is now in the compost bin, mixed in. I’ll let you know how it goes. The cricket was magnificent (look it up). I researched some toe clippings info and they are packed with calcium. Now, off for a haircut.