Gardens: so you think coffee grounds are good for plants

Gardens: so you think coffee grounds are good for plants

A real-life test and all the science explodes this popular myth

Bean and gone and done it: the caffeine in coffee plants reduces the growth in other plants.
 Bean and gone and done it: the caffeine in coffee plants reduces the growth in other plants. Photograph: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters

It’s one of the most common gardening tips going: apply spent coffee grounds around your garden for amazing results. A quick internet search for “coffee grounds + plants” will draw up close to four million hits, with consistent claims they can add essential minerals to the soil, boost populations of friendly soil bacteria and even reduce the pH of growing media for acid-loving plants like rhododendrons. In fact, on a trip to an achingly eco organic coffee shop in San Francisco last year I saw big barrels of used coffee grounds with scoops and brown bags, free to customers to collect, under a sign detailing their many horticultural virtues. What a great idea!

Always keen to try out a quirky horticultural tip, and being a bit of a caffeine fiend, I decided to put the theory to the test this summer on two identical vegetable beds containing a mix of tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and flowers. Now, this was hardly a rigorous scientific trial, just a rough-and-ready experiment to satisfy passing curiosity. I’d just dump my daily coffee grounds on the surface as a mulch once they had cooled (the way books and blogs suggest), creating a beautiful dark inch-thick layer of coffee compost by the end of the summer.

So I had a look at the scientific literature, and frankly I kicked myself. Coffee grounds are of course a rich source of caffeine – in fact they can be richer than coffee itself, depending on brewing technique. One of the key functions of caffeine in the plants that produce it is allelopathy – the ability to reduce competition from surrounding species by suppressing their growth. Caffeine is packed into coffee seeds for the very function of suppressing the germination of other seeds.

There is a stack of studies to suggest it also stalls root growth in young plants, preventing their uptake of water and nutrients. Yet others have shown it has antibacterial effects (so much for boosting soil bacteria). And guess what? It isn’t even always very acidic. OK, its effects have varied widely depending on plant species, but it’s never shown colossal benefits that could outweigh the risks. I love a quirky piece of hort advice, and some are repeated so often you assume they are true, but often they call them old wives’ tales for a reason.

Email James at or follow him on Twitter @Botanygeek


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Sayembara Inovasi: Bogorku Bersih


Kontak :

Een Irawan Putra : 081388041414

Maria Dian : 08161349716

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Ketentuan Lomba

  1. Lomba terbuka bagi individu dengan kriteria:
    1. Berdomisili atau berkarya di kota Bogor
    2. Berperan aktif dalam pengelolaan sampah berbasis masyarakat
    3. Berminat dan bersedia berperan sebagai “Master 3R”, dengan mengkontribusikan waktu, tenaga dan pemikirannya untuk membantu Pemerintah dalam mendorong pengelolaan sampah berbasis masyarakat di Kota Bogor
  2. Setiap Kelurahan dapat mendaftarkan sebanyak mungkin individu sesuai 3 kriteria tersebut
  3. Individu yang tidak didaftarkan oleh Kelurahan, juga dapat mendaftarkan diri secara mandiri
  4. Formulir pendaftaran dapat diperoleh di Kantor DKP, Radar Bogor dan website panitia (
  5. Pendaftaran peserta dilakukan dengan mengisi serta mengembalikan Formulir Pendaftaran dan Formulir Isian paling lambat tanggal 2 Mei 2016 di Sekretariat Panitia (Gedung Graha Pena atau Radar Bogor)
  6. Tulisan yang menjadi persyaratan dalam Formulir Isian dapat dibuat dalam format word atau powerpoint (bila dibuat dengan komputer) atau dengan tulisan tangan.
  7. Panitia akan melakukan empat tahap proses penilaian:
    1. Tahap 1: seleksi materi tertulis (2 – 6 Mei 2016)
    2. Tahap 2: presentasi dan wawancara (7 – 14 Mei 2016)
    3. Tahap 3: Verifikasi lapangan – observasi dan wawancara langsung di wilayah peserta (16 – 21 Mei 2016)
    4. Tahap 4: penjurian untuk penentuan pemenang (23 – 28 Mei 2016)
  8. Tiga orang individu dengan skor penilaian tertinggi akan dipilih menjadi pemenang lomba dan akan mengikuti Training selama 1 (satu) minggu di Hiroshima, Jepang.







Ketentuan Lomba

  1. Lomba terbuka bagi individu atau kelompok.
  2. Peserta memilih 1 (satu) lokasi Rukun Tetangga perumahan di tepi sungai, yang berada di wilayah administratif Kota Bogor
  3. Desain fasilitas yang dilombakan adalah desain fasilitas pengelolaan sampah untuk menyelesaikan permasalahan persampahan di lokasi yang dipilih tersebut.
  4. Desain fasilitas pengelolaan sampah yang diajukan dapat berupa:
    1. Desain tempat sampah
    2. Fasilitas dan metode pengomposan
    3. Fasilitas dan metode pemilahan, pengumpulan dan pengangkutan sampah
    4. Metode pelibatan masyarakat
    5. dll
  5. Formulir pendaftaran dapat diperoleh di Kantor DKP, Radar Bogor dan website panitia (
  6. Pendaftaran peserta dilakukan dengan mengisi serta mengembalikan Formulir Pendaftaran paling lambat tanggal 11 Mei 2016 di Sekretariat Panitia (Gedung Graha Pena atau Radar Bogor)
  7. Tulisan yang menjadi persyaratan dalam Formulir Pendaftaran dapat dibuat dalam format word atau powerpoint (bila dibuat dengan komputer) atau dengan tulisan tangan.
  8. Panitia akan melakukan empat tahap proses penilaian:
    1. Tahap 1: seleksi materi tertulis (11 – 13 Mei 2016)
    2. Tahap 2: presentasi dan wawancara (16 – 20 Mei 2016)
    3. Tahap 3: penjurian untuk penentuan pemenang (20 – 28 Mei 2016)
  9. Tiga orang individu dengan skor penilaian tertinggi akan dipilih menjadi pemenang lomba dan akan memperoleh hadiah berupa uang senilai:
    1. Pemenang I: Rp 5.000.000,-
    2. Pemenang II: Rp 3.000.000,-
    3. Pemenang III: Rp 1.500.000,-

Symbol of Change: A Look at the How2Recycle Labeling System

Symbol of Change: A Look at the How2Recycle Labeling System

Among the foremost challenges faced by waste and recycling services providers is educating the public about exactly what is and is not suitable for the recycling bin. Beyond that, many items that can be recycled don’t necessarily belong in a curbside bin. And if a package contains multiple components made of different materials, a single, nondescript recycling symbol does not make it clear which parts are recyclable or how to handle them.

Conundrums like these led the sustainability-focused nonprofitGreenBlue to develop the How2Recyclelabeling system as part of its Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). The SPC boasts a range of manufacturers and retailers, including Yoplait, Esteé Lauder Companies, Sealed Air, BJ’s Wholesale Club, ConAgra Foods, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, REI, Seventh Generation and manufacturer Ampac. The new labeling system is far more precise, detailing the material(s) in the packaging, its ability to be recycled and details on how to do so.

“Our goal is to make sure the recycling stream is clean and that the right things are getting to the right people,” says GreenBlue project associate Danielle Peacock. “One of the great benefits of the How2Recycle label is it crosses all material types. So there’s going to be uniform iconography across all materials.”

GreenBlue began developing How2Recycle in 2007. “What we found was this model from the United Kingdom that’s now called OPRL – On Pack Recycling Label,” says GreenBlue senior manager Anne Bedarf. “That’s ultimately what we ended up adapting.”

The labels include a series of bars identifying the component parts of a package and what to do with them. Recyclability is broken down into four categories: “Not Yet Recycled,” meaning that less than 20 percent of the U.S. population is able to recycle the material; “Check Locally,” which corresponds to a 20-68 percent recycling availability; “Widely Recycled,” at over 60 percent; and “Store Drop-Off,” which largely pertains to plastic bags and films.

Peacock says the system takes the guesswork out of recycling. “A lot of people may know a plastic bottle is recyclable, but do they know that they should empty and replace the cap? Do they know they can recycle the film wrap on their toilet paper with their plastic bags? So it gives actionable items.”

While recyclers should embrace the system given its potential to boost participation while reducing contamination, some manufacturers may be a harder sell. Many may see it as a means of shaming them for using non-recyclable materials. And some items are too complex or too small to label effectively. “The more components it has the more difficult it gets,” says Bedarf. “We tried a packaged dish that had like six components and ultimately the brand owner didn’t want to go with it because it just became too complicated.”

But for consumers, says Bedarf, who hopes for significant adoption of How2Recycle within three years, it will ultimately come down to transparency. “I think eventually it’s going to get to the point where people ask, ‘There’s no label on here. What am I supposed to do with it?’ So the pitch is that you’re giving them an instruction instead of leaving them wondering.”

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Program Sampah Tukar Beras Diberlakukan di Makassar

Program Sampah Tukar Beras Diberlakukan di Makassar

Newswire Senin, 06/07/2015 22:21 WIB

Program Sampah Tukar Beras Diberlakukan Makassar, MAKASSAR – Pemerintah Kota Makassar memberlakukan program sampah ditukar dengan beras di UPTD Bank Sampah Pusat Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan. Menurut Wali Kota Makassar Moh Ramdhan Pomanto, dengan beroperasinya bank sampah ini, masyarakat bisa menukarkan sampah non organik untuk mendapatkan beras.

Program ini bertujuan mengurangi volume sampah di wilayah Makassar yang terus meningkat setiap harinya termasuk mengajak masyarakat untuk bersama-sama menjaga kebersihan sesuai program Makassar Tidak Rantasa atau kotor (MTR).

“Minimal bisa mereduksi atau mengurangi sampah 20-30 persen atau 150-225 ton perharinya, sebab ada 750 ton sampah yang masuk tiap harinya di Tempat Pembuangan Akhir di Tamangapa Antang,” ujarnya saat meresmikan bank sampah pusat di Jalan Toddopuli, Senin (6/7/2015).

Selain itu, salah satu kota yang menjadi pioner dalam program bank sampah skala nasional adalah Makassar dan sudah dijadikan sebagagi kota percontohan .

“Untuk saat ini bank sampah kota makassar mencapai 110 tersebar di beberapa kecamatan. Kita yang terbanyak di Indonesia. Target tahun depan bisa mencapai 333 bank sampah. Saya instruksikan minimal ada tiga bank sampah dibentuk per satu kelurahan,” paparnya dihadapan sejumlah SKPD, lurah dan camat, Direktur Yayasan Peduli negeri dan para direktur bank sampah di tiap kecamatan.

Dia mengaku dirinya juga diundang Kementerian Koordinator Perekonomian untuk memeparkan solusi mengatasi sampah yang sudah menjadi persoalan klasik di Makassar yang dinilai memberikan edukasi, sebab saat ini sampah sudah menjadi nilai ekonomis untuk memenuhi kebutuhan dasar masyarakat.

“Saya dipanggil Kemenko Perekonomian untuk memaparkan program ini, karena kita dianggap pioner dari total 400 bank sampah di Indonesia. Selain itu kita juga ditunjuk tuan umah dalam forum masalah persampahan,” ujar Pomanto.

Selain meresmikan program bank sampah, pihaknya juga memberikan bantuan dua mobil sampah ‘Tangkasa Rong’ atau Tabungan Bank Sampah Anak Lorong termasuk dua mobil operasional ke UPTD pengelolaan daur ulang sampah pusat di Toddopuli yang merupakan bantuan CSR.

Bahkan Pomanto mendaftar sebagai nasabah pertama bank sampah diikuti seluruh SKPD, bahkan perwakilan wartawan salah satu media di Makassar ikut mendaftar menjadi nasabah guna mendukung program tersebut.

“Ke depan saya berfikir kita dapat membuat pabrik plastik dan komposer disini membuta pupuk kompos dan semacamnya untuk dijadikan industri, biayanya tidak terlalu mahal. Program ini juga mendukung MTR, dengan muara industri persampahan yang difasilitasi pemerintah,” tambahnya.

Sementara Kepala Dinas Kebersihan dan Pertamanan Kota Makassar Azis Hasan menyebutkan volume sampah yang dibuang di TPA Tamangapa, antang antara 600-750 ton per hari.

Dengan memanfaatkan UPTD bank sampah imi maka mengurangi volume sampah yang terbuang dan bisa menjadi nilai ekonomis bagi warga. Ke depan bukan hanya ditukar beras tapi produk rumah tangga lainnya.

“Kami optimis ini program akan berjalan dengan maksimal. Sehingga sampah tidak lagi dibuang, tapi masyarakat akan memanfaatkan untuk ditukar,” katanya.


British Council Indonesia : Social Enterprise Indonesia TPST 3R Mulyoagung – Malang

TPST 3R Mulyoagung is a winner Arthur Guinness Fund – British Council Community Entrepreneurs Challenge Wave IV. TPST 3R Mulyoagung is a community group which provides environmental sanitation service (door-to-door garbage collection) reaching around 5,350 families in four villages. Currently KSM TPST 3R Mulyoagung Bersatu employs around 65 people, consisting of 23 women and 44 men, whom it recruits directly from the community.

TPST 3R Mulyoagung adalah pemenang “Arthur Guinness Fund – British Council Community Entrepreneurs Challenge Wave IV”. TPST 3R Mulyoagung adalah Kelompok Swadaya Masyarakat yang memberikan pelayanan sanitasi lingkungan (pengangkutan sampah dari rumah ke rumah), cakupan pelayanan hingga 5.350 Keluarga di Mulyoagung. Saat ini KSM TPST 3R Mulyoagung Bersatu memperkejakan sekitar 65 orang, terdiri dari 23 wanita dan 44 pria, yang direkrut langsung dari komunitas sekitar.

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Blog TPST 3R Mulyoagung Bersatu :

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Kontak Bapak F. Supadi (Ketua KSM) : 085102484444 / 085736040200 / 081235610785

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20 Innovators Protecting the Planet #EarthDay2015

20 Innovators Protecting the Planet #EarthDay2015

April 22nd is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day and, this year, Food Tank is highlighting 20 of our favorite innovators.

April 22nd is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day—an important opportunity to highlight solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.

On a planet in which hunger and food waste coexist, where crops feed biofuels or animals despite water and food shortages, and where obesity in one country contrasts starvation in another, solutions and innovations to help ensure a vibrant, healthy future are more important than ever.

There are countless organizations and individuals who inspire us at Food Tank by producing creative and innovative solutions to challenges both people and the planet face including soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, climate change, poverty, industrial agriculture practices, land ownership, and food security.

Food Tank is highlighting 20 of our favorite innovators this Earth Day.

Jamila Abass—Abass is co-founder of M-Farm, a technology tool for smallholder farmers to receive information on the retail price of their products in Kenya. Farmers use SMS to buy farm inputs from manufacturers and connect to markets. The tool is innovating the way farmers access information and bring products to the marketplace.

Will Allen—Former professional basketball player, Allen, grew up on a small farm in Maryland where developed roots in farming. After returning to the United States from Belgium, Allen founded Growing Power Inc., a nonprofit organization for urban agriculture and community building. He is an innovator in methods of composting, vermicomposting, and aquaponics. Using these practices he has increased yields in urban growing spaces.

Bruno Follador—Follador is a geographer, biodynamic researcher, and specialist in biodynamic composting and chromatography. A native of San Paolo, Brazil, her first encountered biodynamics at the age of 18. According to Follador, educating and helping eaters to become conscious of their responsibility in a biodynamic system is one of the best ways to heal the food system. His work focuses on life processes and actively improving the health of farms.

Eric Holt-Giménez—An author, lecturer, agroecologist, and food system researcher, Holt-Giménez has been a vocal advocate for campesinos (peasant farmworkers) and a champion of el Movimiento Campesino a Campesino (the Farmer to Farmer Movement). The movement has now spread across Latin America with hundreds of thousands of practicing farmers in over a dozen countries.

John Georges—Georges is an entrepreneur and inventor from Arcadia, Florida. He has taken the challenges growers and farmers face in agricultural irrigation and invented a sustainable and cost effective solution. His product Tree T Pee stimulates root growth, protects trees from frost and reduces fuel, herbicide and fertilizer use, while conserving water in a major way.

Ernst Gotsch—Gotsch developed complex crop systems in the 1970s by experimenting with multi-species consortia, such as planting corn with beans or apples with cherries in Germany and Switzerland. His methods restore degraded soils, produce high yields, and eliminate the use of pesticides. “We should combine the present with the future. It must be economically viable for the present and for the future,” said Gotsch. Currently, Gotsch is developing agroecological practices in Brazil at Fazenda da Toca.

Stephanie Hanson—Hanson has been the Director of Policy and Outreach at One Acre Fund since 2009, which provides smallholder farmers in Africa with support, inputs, and training, with the goal of doubling agricultural production on each acre of smallholder farmland.

Selina Juul—Danish food waste expert, Juul, founded The Stop Wasting Food (SWF) movement in 2008 and it is now the largest consumer organization fighting against food waste in Denmark. With more than 18,000 publications and thousands of supporters, Juul is inspiring business like Rema 1000 to reduce the price of food items past sell-by dates instead of throwing them out. An analysis by TNS Gallup for Agriculture showed that in 2013 half of Danes have reduced their food waste.

Byung Soo Kim—Kim pioneered organic farming in South Korea, he started with just 20 chickens and now has more than 4,000. Active in developing co-ops, Slow Food South Korea, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), and spreading organic farming methods, Kim has empowered others to become interested in organic farming where it previously didn’t exist.

Federica Marra—Winner of the 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Young Earth Solutions competition in Italy, Marra created Manna From Our Roofs, an innovative organization that engages young people across the world in food cultivation, preservation, and education.

Pashon Murray—Murray is creating a more sustainable, less wasteful world in Detroit, MI. She is the owner and co-founder of Detroit Dirt, a business that takes food scraps from restaurants, cafeteria, and the Detroit Zoo and turns it into nutrient-rich compost. She is also working with the Idea Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to optimize soil by creating blends for specific growing purposes.

Gary Paul Nabhan—Advocate, writer, and conservationist Nabhan has been honored as a pioneer and creative force in the food movement by The New York Times, TIME magazine, and more. He works with students, academics, and nonprofit to build a climate resilient food shed that covers the United States-Mexico border. Nabhan was one of the first researchers to promote using native foods to prevent diabetes and his accomplishments were featured in Food Tank’s recent short documentary, “A Man in the Maze.”

Nora Pouillon—Pouillon is a pioneer and champion of organic, environmentally conscious cuisine. She opened Restaurant Nora in 1979 and worked with farmers to supply the restaurant with seasonal organic produce. In 1999, Restaurant Nora became the first certified organic restaurant in the United States, a feat accomplished by few since.

Florence Reed—Inspired after serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama, Reed founded Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) which combats the tropical deforestation crisis in Central America. SHI provides poor farmers with sustainable alternatives to agriculture that do not degrade the environment.

Joel Salatin—A third generation alternative farmer in Virginia, Salatin returned to the farm in 1982, it currently serves more than 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants with beef, poultry, eggs, pork, foraged-based rabbits, turkey, and forestry products. Salatin presents alternatives to conventional food production and inspires his audiences to connect with local food producers.

Sara Scherr—Scherr is the Founder and President of EcoAgriculture Partners, a nonprofit that works with agricultural communities around the world to develop ecoagriculture landscapes that enhance rural livelihoods, have sustainable and productive agricultural systems, and conserve or enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Coach Mark Smallwood—Smallwood is executive director of Rodale Institute, based in Pennsylvania, which has pioneered the organic movement through its research, education and outreach since 1947. Their Farming Systems Trial is the longest running side by side comparison of organic and chemical farming approaches. Through Rodale, Smallwood, demonstrated that yields are the same in the long term, with organic yielding 30 percent higher than chemical in years of drought.

Amber Stott—Stott is on a mission to inspire kids to eat their vegetables in California. After realizing the critical need for knowledge of real food, she founded the Food Literacy Center, a community food education center focused on creating change for a healthier, more sustainable future. After three month of food literacy education, 92 percent of child participants said healthy food tastes good.

Martha Mwasu Waziri—Winner of Oxfam International’s 2012 Female Food Hero contest in Tanzania, Waziri, from the Dodoma Region, reclaimed 18 acres of land that had been eroded by a river using environmentally safe practices. It is now used as productive farmland.

Kanthi Wijekoon—A hero to other women, Wijekoon was arrested while she was trying to escape Sri Lanka to find a better life for her family. The Rural Women’s Front helped her get out of jail and she went on to lead programs reaching more than 600 women a year, increasing daily wages for women rice farmers.

Who are your favorite innovators help safeguard the planet? Share them with us! Use #FoodTank. Are you creating your own innovations? We want to know what you are up to! Email Danielle at and we might highlight your innovation in an upcoming article.