IS there anything special that need to be done to nut shells before composting? Do most people compost theses? Does they take an exstream length of time to break down?
In my own experience, nutshells compost pretty fast with no special requirements. I've used shells from pecans, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and acorns in my piles. Peanut shells (not a true nut) seem to take forever to decompose. good composting to you!
I think because peanut shells grow in the ground they are designed to resist rot so I usually break them up (for purely cosmetic reasons). I also find that black walnut shells make it through unscathed. If I'm using my compost as a soil amendment and digging it in, it's not a problem. If I'm using it as a mulch or top dressing I may pick them out.
I can say that the shells of peanuts and the hulls of cantalope and pumpkin seeds survive quite a long time in a worm bin.
Nut shells may take a little longer than some things to break down but so long as you are not hoping to make really fine compost it won't be a big deal if bits are still intact. I find that lots of acorns survive composting if they are not broken up first. They make filling seed pots kinda tricky.
Thanks everyone - I really appreciate the help. I'll be hauling my big bag o'shells out to the pile this weekend!
Happy Thanksgiving All!!!
I once had a bag of walnut shells that I thought would make a nifty mulch (as opposed to putting them into the compost, first). I also thought that their sharp edges would discourage the neighborhood cats from doing their thing in that flower bed.
I ended up with the entire town's population of squirrels in my garden, thinking that Christmas had come early as they rummaged for those bits of nuts still stuck to the shells.
Now that I think of it, tucking the shells into the compost might have enticed those little ratfinks to turn my compost for me :) :)
Pistachio shells seem to resist decomp longer than most nut shells. I use them as mulch sometimes.
I was curious about Walnut shells and did a Google Search and found this information.
Nut Shells: Pecan shells, peanut husks, cocoanut fiber and other nut wastes make excellent compost. One precaution: avoid shells of walnuts. They contain a chemical that inhibits plant growth and works like an antiseptic to kill off bacteria.
You can do a Google search to get the article.
I throw my black wanuts that I don't want into the woods...also shells.
I only have pistachio shells as buy other nuts already shelled. I love them for the compost as they help aerate it as well as my garden soil and I don't care if they ever break down.
If compost is used with potting soil it can be screened.
Bradley don't worry about the walnuts and their shells. The chemical composts fine and is untrace able after composting. The highest concentrate is in the roots of the tree which exposed to air and water starts to dilute it quickly and can still be composted away but takes a little longer.
As far as composting nut shells They will compost fine and the are a great "bulking" agent in the compost pile helping it from being to compact.
I would warn anyone about putting black walnut shells (or branches or leaves) in compost. Every part of a black walnut tree, especially the roots, are detrimental to members of the tomato family. Even dusting from spring pollen can stunt tomatoes. A neighbor has a black walnut within 100 feet of my garden here at my new house. I've never been able to grow good tomatoes here (the tree is south of the garden, so prevailing winds keep leaves and pollen blown my way). I found this out by contacting MR. COMPOST Mike McGrath (previous editor for Organic Gardening Magazine) at his current radio show: You Bet Your Garden. So this year I'm going to try growing tomatoes in large pots in a different part of the property this coming summer to see if I can do better. It's depressing to see the same plants I started for myself thriving in my (further north) neighbor's yards. *sigh*
I've been astonished at how quickly pistachio shells compost in the worm bed. Fast!
My concern has been with the abundant sodium on my left over peanut shells going to the bin. I'm thinking about giving then as good soak beforehand. Has anyone had success or the same thought about salty shells?
I made a compost pile last fall, about 5 feet across, about 6 feet tall, with a lot of pecan hulls and shells in it, shredded leaves, root balls from potted annuals, kitchen scraps... The shells were gone but although it was plenty moist, being in a baby pool with lots of big holes poked in it, most of the hulls did not decompose much at all. Some of it went near tomatoes, which grew average-ly. Next time our trees make nuts, I'm just going to use that stuff raw as part of the mulch around non-juglone-sensitive plants.
I've never been able to distinguish peanut or pistachio shells after composting.
We go through a pound of pistachios a week. I use them in my meat smoker or rinse them and add them to my flower beds as mulch. As mulch they decompose much slower than wood chips. I've never tried composting them as I always have an area in need of mulch.
Corey, if your salted peanut shells make up a small fraction of the compost pile, I wouldn't worry about the salt. If you put a gallon of them into a typical compost bin, the increase in sodium throughout the pile will be negligible. I don't think I'd make a pile with 50% peanut shells, but a few won't matter.