This past April I wrote a blog post for Schoola.com about reusing K-Cups for Earth Day. Many people enjoy their morning coffee or tea from their Keurig machine but you may not realize how harmful K-Cups are to the environment. The construction of the cup with filter layers and coffee grounds make them very difficult to recycle. Separating out all the contents of the cups is time consuming and most people just end up tossing them in the garbage.
The good news is that these little cups can actually be very useful for starting a garden. They are perfect as seed starters because of their tiny dimensions and built-in drainage hole. My office has a Keurig machine and my officemates helped me build a collection of cups to start my garden. I was feeling very ambitious and a purchased two mega seed packs of both herbs and vegetables.
- Used K-Cups
- Sharpie pen
- Potting soil
- Seeds - I bought these two vegetable and herb variety seed packs from Rebel Gardens
Let's Get Started!
Step 1: Remove the foil lid, coffee grounds and paper filter from the K-Cup. You can add the coffee grounds and paper to a compost if you would like. I like to keep the plastic filter from the bottom inside the cup because I find it easier to remove the sprouts when I transfer to a larger pot.
Step 2: Rinse out the K-Cup and let it dry. When it's completely dry, use a sharpie to pre-label the cup. Once the seeds get planted it is very easy to forget what's in them!
Step 3: Fill the cup about halfway to the top with soil and then put in the seeds. Read your seed packet to see how deep you should be planting your seeds. I like to put about 2-3 seeds per cup to give the seeds room to grow, too many seeds can overcrowd your sprouts. Cover up the seeds with soil, leaving about 1/4 inch space from the top.
Step 4: Water your seeds but be careful not to drown them. Place them in a warm sunny spot like a window sill or porch.
Step 5: Keep an eye on them and water when the soil starts to look dry. You may also talk and sing to your plants to get them to sprout (I am only half joking about this!).
Two weeks later...
The tiny garden began in the backyard of my parent's house and has been relocated to our apartment in the city. Our urban garden began flourishing in just a few days thanks to all the sunlight we get on our window sill. I am always amazed at the little plants that sprout from the seeds, they're just so cute! I feel really excited when I come home from work to find new little green sprouts popping their heads out of the soil.
The veggies and herbs all sprout at different times but within two weeks you should see progress in almost all the plants. My first ones to sprout where the arugula followed by the radish. In the spirit of being eco-friendly and repurposing, I transferred some of my little K-Cup sprouts into large yogurt cups and empty food containers. Eventually all the plants will need to go into large planters or the ground as they outgrow their containers.
Top Tips for Reusing K-Cups for the Garden:
- Keep the little plastic filter at the bottom of the K-Cup because it makes transferring the sprouts to a larger pot easier. I've seen other tutorials recommend not using but I tried both ways and I found that when the roots grow into the little holes in the filter it's much easier to pull them out in one swoop.
- Be sure to read the seed packet to estimate when is the best time of year to plant certain types of produce. To be honest, I was so excited that I completely skipped this step and planted everything the same day. In hindsight I would've saved some of my seed packets for another season and focused on the in-season vegetables and herbs.
- When it comes time to put your plants into a flower bed or soil in the ground, you can actually sprinkle the coffee grounds as fertilizer in your garden. If you rinse your used coffee grounds, they will have a near neutral pH and will not affect the acid levels of the soil. To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, work the coffee grounds into the soil around your plants.*
This eco-friendly project has been a lot of fun and I hope to have an update in few weeks with actual produce to show you!
*learn more about coffee grounds as fertilizer
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