Coffee grinds to heat cold frames in winter

Hi all,

I’ve been pondering for some time now how to grow vegetables on rooftops over the winter. I know that I don’t want to make a DIY Passive Solar Water Heater and I really know that I don’t want to use my fresnel lens solar concentrator, since this would have the unfortunate side effect of burning down the building.

So I am looking at heating the self irrigated planters using compost. I first came across this, which is basically making a compost heater out of a wheelie bin and some tubing. I suspect there is more to it than that, but it looked promising.

Here’s the link..

I then came across an article which stated several things..

Firstly, that coffee grinds are not acidic. Apparently all the acidity went into the espresso.

Secondly, germination tests on lettuce for coffee grounds ploughed directly into the soil in quantity showed stunted growth for lettuce.

And thirdly, and most importantly, when coffee grounds made up about a quarter of a compost pile, the compost pile stayed at between 135 to 155 degrees for two weeks, a sustained heat period longer than when manure was used. The piece essentially says that you can use coffee grinds in place of manure. This is wonderful news since manure is a problem in cities. Why? Well generally because the only large animals in cities tend to be humans and most people have a problem with people using the compost heap as a toilet. However, without the manure component you cannot get the heat loving (heat producing would be more like it) bacteria and without the heat loving bacteria there is no heating up plants in winter.

Here is the link..

So what I intend to do is heat my self irrigated planters with the wheelie bin compost heater using coffee grinds obtained from the local coffee shops. Should there be any smell associated with this I mean to use biochar to keep it down, since charcoal is apparently great at removing noxious smells from the air in confined spaces. And since I will be making my own biochar from coffee grounds.. 🙂



  1. said,

    March 1, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Just what seriously inspired you to publish Solar Shades “Coffee grinds to heat cold frames
    in winter | Rooftop Ecology’s Blog”? I actuallycertainly appreciated the blog post! Thank you -Issac

    • March 7, 2013 at 4:13 am

      I have ideas connected to my dreams, my ambitions, the vast majority I’ve not had the opportunity to put into practice. This was just one of them. Another one is to fund a different kind of airship, one that is the pinnacle of development tech, the same way as this is the bottom. 🙂

  2. June 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    “Coffee grinds to heat cold frames in winter | Rooftop Ecology’s Blog” was a superb blog. However, if it had much more pics it might be perhaps even more beneficial. Thank u -Danielle

    • June 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm


      Haven’t actually any experience of doing this yet. Most of my blog posts are speculative. I am working my way through a maze of indifference, government bylaws etc. When I have more on this point, I will post it. I’ve just heard that Seoul city is planning its own version of New York’s High Line. The High Line is an elevated railway that was converted into a gardened walkway. I am trying to get involved in this project, as it will turn the right heads and open the right doors. Anyone reading my blog has very unusual, esoteric interests, so you will know how difficult it is to get folk interested in this stuff. Sure, they’ll smile and say wow, but most won’t lift a hand to help. But we know we’re right, yes?

  3. Jocelyn said,

    June 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I actually wish to book mark this particular blog post, “Coffee grinds to heat cold
    frames in winter | Rooftop Ecology’s Blog” on my internet site. Would you care if perhaps I reallydo it? Thanks -Cameron

    • August 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Hi Cameron,

      I don’t mind at all. I know this answer is probably overly late. I got diverted by a life ambush. If you do go ahead with it please tell me how you got on.



  4. Annette said,

    June 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Just what really encouraged you to create “Coffee grinds to heat cold frames in
    winter | Rooftop Ecology’s Blog”? I personallygenuinely enjoyed reading the blog post! Thank you ,Amanda

    • August 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Hi Amanda,

      I got my Masters in International Cooperation mostly for myself; I was bored and wanted to know more about hands across borders. There were three streams I could take. One was International Security, armies and intentions and the like. The second was political economy. The third was development. I opted hard for option 3. Via my wife, I got to meet Dr. Cho, the founder of Korean Natural Farming which really got me thinking about building up from nothing – replacing financial investment with smarts. I also learned about ZERI and the amazing, miraculous feats it pulls off using, again, smarts in place of money. When I was in Tokyo I got introduced to the Toyota Production System, which is the system that allowed Toyota to fund itself out of its own pocket. All three basically say the same thing – you can replace a lot of funding with ingenuity.

  5. Aleisha said,

    August 3, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I actually had been researching for tips for
    my own web site and located ur blog, “Coffee grinds to heat cold frames in winter | Rooftop Ecology’s Blog”, do you really mind in case I actually implement several of your own ideas? Thanks -Sofia

    • August 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Hi Aleisha,

      I don’t mind if you implement these ideas at all. Everything I write is in the public domain. If you do, I would ask that you tell how you got on.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: