Is it OK to add lemon peels to compost?

figara(Ca 9)April 6, 2010

Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum and composting and I have a few questions. I want to find out if you can add lemon, orange and mandarin peels to the compost.We are using lots of lemons, sometimes 4-5/day ,mandarins and oranges.

I have a plastic compost bin and I put in it only grass, leaves, raw vegetable, egg shell, coffee grounds. I did not put anything cooked food. Should I ?

How long it takes to be ready to use?

Thanks,

Figara

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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

Yes, you can put citrus peels in the compost. You may want to cut the bigger ones in smaller pieces to speed the decomposition.

Make sure you have enough low-nitrogen "browns" like dry leaves, wood chips, shredded paper or sawdust, etc. to add to all those nitrogen-rich items you listed.

It takes anywhere from a couple months to a year for compost to be ready, depending on the C:N ratio (browns and greens), moisture, frequency of turning, etc. Tinker with it, 3 months. Pile it up and let it rot, a year. :-]

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 5:10PM
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shlegminitism(zone 8)

I heard that you should allow citrus peel to develop a mold first. Fresh citrus, if i'm not mistaken, deters certain worms that aid in decomposition. If what i was told is correct, after a mold has developed on the rind, this shouldn't be an issue. i have a planter beside the compost bin that i just throw oranges in. I would love to know if others have heard this.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 11:21AM
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annpat(5-Maine)

figara, yes, you can put cooked food into your compost bin.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 11:38AM
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shlegminitism(zone 8)

Be careful of meats or anything that would attract rodents or dogs.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 3:04PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

That may be true on the mold thing, but they will decompose either way. We've been composting food waste at my office building - 5-10 lb per day for 12 years - and a lot of citrus peels go in there. We turn once after 6 months, and bag up finished compost after another 6 months. It's very nice and nary a peel.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 3:44PM
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figara(Ca 9)

Thanks so much all. One more thing...my leaves are mostly oak and pine...are they good? I've read somewhere that when you add pine needles to the compost you have to add some ashes also. Is that true?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 11:18PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

No, pine needles are a bit acidic but they (and any weak organic acids) will degrade towards neutral in the composting process. Ashes don't hurt if you have them, just use sparingly. Maybe a quart in a cubic yard pile. They have very high pH and it's the mineral type rather than organic.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 12:47PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Lemon and orange peel will take longer to decompose, but it's worth it. All vegetable stuff from the kitchen is good.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 1:22PM
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michelle_aslan2000_yahoo_com

I grind up fresh lemon and orange peels everyday in my food processor. I usually add a banana peel and any old vegetables that would end up in the disposer. I used to throw the moldy peels away, but I shall start adding those, too. I noticed that they turn moldy anyway in the wet soil. Speaking of which, I soak the peels into the ground so it doesn't harden on the surface, but I heard that the dried and caked peels would keep inch worms away from roses. I began this process because I felt it was an efficient way to recycle and perhaps enrich the soil, and it couldn't hurt the plants. I began adding Epson salts and cider vinegar to the brew. I must say that it smells absolutely wonderful and I have been complimented on the scents of the garden.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:10PM
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rmontcal

Michelle - are you saying that your compost smells good because quality compost has a rich earthy smell? OR are you saying that your compost smells like lemons and oranges?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:49PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

I always get a chuckle when folks wonder whether moldy or otherwise decomposing food items can be composted. Compost is supposed rot! The stuff just has a head start! LOL

I've heard citrus peels can be irritating to worms in a worm bin, but I would not worry about them at all in an outdoor compost pile.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:44PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I am sure its fine to add lemons to your compost pile. Though I have to admit, i don't think I have ever added a lemon to my pile. I simply don't use them. Limes on the other hand, my pile gets lots of limes.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 6:05PM
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chestersgarden

Hi. Thanks for the question. My garden has a deep earthy scent, for the scents of the lemons and oranges quickly dissipates with time. I want to add also that this fresh compost goes directly into my hydrangeas where it occasionally gets mixed with a quart of ground coffee beans, and wow, does it give it a fabulous iridescent pink, purple and blue color!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 12:13AM
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