Compost using 99%Banana Skin .(tumble bin)

weew(Summer)April 9, 2008

I have access to TONS/Mountains of banana skin, and I am using a tumble unit from TumbleWeed. I knew banana skin is GREEN materia, I was wondering can I just compost this banana skin without mixing any brown? Cause I find out banana skin decompose very fast, and it will be gone within few week in my bin.

Here is my ingredient mix:

99% Banana skin, maybe add very small amount of newspaper.NO WATER ADDED.

My concern is, will it get too wet when the banana skin is breaking down and will it create bad odor/ammonia smell?

Secondly, will I produce a compost that is TOO HIGH in potassium?

I choose not to mix more brown and other green is because I believe banana skin can easily breakdown within 2-3weeks which is finish compost.

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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Yes, you can do it, but it will stink. Adding some browns will not slow it down too much, and will help add diversity. I wouldn't worry about the potassium.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 11:30AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Using only one component like this is not compost and shouldn't be thought of, labeled, or used as compost.

So no, you will not be producing compost.

You can choose, of course, to make it, but what you will have is rotted, somewhat decomposed banana skins.(period) This "stuff" for want of a better label can be used as a soil additive if you wish but as whip already said, yes, it will be smelly, it's K level will be somewhat higher than compost would be because you aren't adding sufficient carbon to balance it out, and it's benefit for the soil you add it to is...unknown.

Most knowledgeable compost makers will recommend the addition of a mix of diverse carbons and additional diverse nitrogen elements to this "stuff" so that you end up with real compost. The addition of a balanced amount of carbon does not slow down the process, it actually speeds it up. So if speed is your primary concern then you have nothing to worry about.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:11PM
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Good for you for salvaging & using this wonderful organic stuff!

My only experience with banana skins has been to toss them under rose bushes, where they shrink & turn black & eventually disappear.

They have a lot of moisture/water in them, & when that's gone, there isn't much volume at all left.

I'd add carbon to keep the nitrogen/ammonia smell down & to balance the mix.

Best luck, & have fun!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:58PM
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I see. Will consider about the stinky smell produce by the banana skin.

How about mixture of 50% banana skin + Others?(grass clipping, vegetable watse, and of cause at least 20% of brown from newspaper and bedding from my pet. I hate to use leaf, it decompose very slow... almost taking a year to decompose it)

I also learn that, when it stink - add brown, wet - add brown, dry add green. That should get me the right balance of C/N ratio.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 3:43AM
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Compost is a mixture of a wide variety of materials, not just one type of material to give the finished product a well balanced nutrient load. Just using one type of material may result in something closely resembling finished compost but it probably would not be nutrient balanced.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:37AM
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Composting *can* be rocket science, but it doesn't have to be.

All our grandparents & great-grandparents composted, & they weren't rocket scientists, & they used what they had on hand.

Compost made from whatever is available is better than unamended soil, & it's better than throwing away organic material.

Mix nitrogen & carbon materials, & you'll get compost.

If it smells bad or it's too wet, add carbon.

If it's just sitting there not doing anything, add nitrogen.

Go ahead & toss in those leaves;
if you have a lot of nitrogen, they'll break down faster than you think.

You also can put them, a little at a time, in a garbage can & shred them with a string trimmer (weed-eater) if you've just got to get them cooking faster.

& you can use compost before it's completely finished;
a few not-completely-digested leaves will work fine in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 8:57AM
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I read from the Tumbleweed's website, they mention their tumbleweed compost tumble can HANDLE 100% grass clipping which convention method can't handle it. That's why I was thinking since it claim to work with 100% grass clipping, it should work with 100% banana skin as well(smile). However, I have not try 100% grass clipping yet, usually mix with brown and other material I can get easily. So far it still need about 3-5 months to produce a finish compost, Including 1-2 month for curing after I take it out from the tumble. I wish I can make compost in 21 days as their mention, it seem impossible on what I have done so far.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:28PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was said: "I wouldn't worry about the potassium."

A number of years ago, a local gardener who dried large quantities of bananas, composted the skins, then used that in his veggie garden.

After a while (I don't know how many years later) the plants were in serious trouble.

A soil test by professional lab showed the potassium to be sky high.

So, I suggest that moderation is the best method. Perhaps it would be wise to share the bounty with other composters.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Good advice jean, will reduce the amount and combine with other material.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 3:24AM
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My concern with banana peels is this: Aren't they the most heavily pesticided fruit there is? Those, and commercial bouquets? If it were me, and I wasn't worried about high pesticide levels (which I would be), I wouldn't bother rotting banana peels in my composter. I'd just pile them around the bases of my roses and shrubs.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 8:12AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Seriously, would the trace amounts of potassium in the peels, spread out over the garden be enough to raise the level in soil to a dangerous level? How much potassium would be in 50 pounds of peels?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 12:19PM
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whip1, you ask 'How much potassium would be in 50 pounds of peels?' The NPK ratio of banana skin ash is N=0, P=3.25, K=41.76. I bet soil could freak out pretty easily with 50 pounds of peels!
Here is a link that may help us all find the perfect balance. LOL!

Here is a link that might be useful: npk of random compost items

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 4:11PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Wow. I had no idea the peel had that much potassium.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 5:04PM
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Wow! Me too, never know banana peel have 41.76 potassium! I always bury few banana peel under my tomato plant, they seem love it! But if I compost 200pounds of banana peel into useable material, I afraid my tomato plant will hate me!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 1:03AM
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That's why I posted the link to the npk of compost items, weew. You seem to have so many varieties of things available to compost, not only banana peels. Just make sure you keep the carbon/nitrogen balance going and you can play with the npk balance until you get a mixture going that works for your soil and your individual plants.
Tell your tomatoes, don't worry, be happy!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 12:08PM
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Hahaha. Jean, I definately will send your regards to my tomato plants! Yes I have many available thing to compost, but I notice most of the available material is lack of P. Maybe my finish compost can touch up with some bat guano, that should make a wonderful compost!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 7:25AM
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marie99(z8 SC)

I am trying 100% grass clippings piled on a tarp in my back yard. This is from mowing 2 acres that had not been mowed in a year. Its only been turned twice. The thing has shrunk mightily and I found my dog huddled into it for warmth many times, so I don't think he pees there. Yes, he has a dog house. This is obviously warmer and I only put him out for a few hours a day. Maybe he's smarter than he looks.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Try this article on for size. According to this, the finished "compost" will be balanced, with the nitrogen and potassium being higher than the potassium. I think that the potassium levels would hardly be toxic.

I would be ecstatic if I had access to banana peels for my compost.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 1:23PM
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"According to this, the finished "compost" will be balanced, with the nitrogen and potassium being higher than the potassium."

I meant that the nitrogen and phosphorus would be at higher levels than the potassium.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:34PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

I'm a bit concerned about the pesticides from the banana skins as well. I am presuming that the new plants getting the compost made from them would also have pesticides in them?


    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 3:29PM
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Are you sure about pesticides being used on bananas? I lived in Sri Lanka for a year and had many banana plants growing in my backyard and never saw any pests or disease attacking them and therefore see no need for anyone to use pesticides. I also grew bananas in my backyard here in California and again never saw any bugs or disease. In my opinion its a plant that just takes care of itself. You just have to be sure to pick the bananas while they are still green so the monkeys don't get them.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 12:22PM
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Definitely pesticides on banana peels. Almost all of the bananas we USians get at the grocery store are one single variety of banana, Cavendish, which is in trouble.

(I read the book -- very interesting.)

who finds it hard to believe that banana skin ash is 41.76% potassium by weight; can that be right?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 12:31PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

Leaves will break down in much less than a year when mixed with greens, especially grass clippings, which you mentioned. The banana peels alone will be a stinky mess and you'll have swarms of fruit flies.

Dizzy jane - that's ashes of banana skin. Since banana peels are mostly water, do you know how many banana peels you'd have to burn to get a big pile of ashes? LOTS!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 2:05PM
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gnomey(7b SC zip296)

I just have to ask.. where did you get a mountain of banana peels? I have a 4 year old who loves them, but he still does not provide me with a mountain of peels.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 9:04PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

LOL! I was wondering where all the banana skins came from, too!

As for the pesticides. I just read an article (although I cannot remember where) that lists banana peels and some other vegetables and fruits in a list of the top 12 items (I think it was 12?) that have the most pesticides in them.

The reason I remember is I had just eaten bananas with the kids and asked them all for the peels so I could put it in the compost pile. Now, as you can see, I am a bit concerned about putting any more out there. How do you get pesticides out of the soil (after it is composted)? Will just watering it work? And, after composting, is there any pesticides left? Does anyone know about this?


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:03AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Banana skins in the Nevada sun will turn to a black leather like material that will last for at least three years outdoors in Nevada.

If I had a ton I would make a long lived mulch of them. You climate may create entirely different materials I suppose.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:25PM
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akiba37(So New England)

Banana peelings, chopped up and used in the soil of rose bushes, work...without adding anything else to the mix! This is my first time trying it, and I have never seen my rose bushes ever look so healthy, and strong and beautiful. I am in zone 6, and this is just the beginning of the growing season...and, as I've already rose bushes are thriving beautifully!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:57AM
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I have recently started using a mixture of Tea mixed in water and a iron tablet dished out into the potted plants, they look amazing, so now I am experementing with bannanas, I am making a bananna spray. just peels left in water for two weeks and also dehydratig the skins, grinding them up and sprinkling them on the soil of the plants, How much potassium can they take untill I have to balance them with something else such as nitrogen? and whats good to use, I am just getting into the world of plants and the food/ fertalizer so any help is really appreceated

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 7:44PM
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