Ask Us: Is it OK to compost fruit peels?

Published 12:10 am Monday, May 25, 2015

Question: Is it OK to put peels from fruit back into the ground for compost?

Karl Langford

Answer: Fruit peels are one of the many items that are OK to put into compost piles, according to Rowan County Extension Service Director Darrell Blackwelder.

Blackwelder said the main things to avoid putting in compost piles are meat scraps and bones. Wild animals, potentially carrying diseases, might riffle through meat, he said. Similarly, he said animal droppings from herbivores, such as cows, are OK to put in compost piles. Manure isn’t an uncommon addition to compost piles, Blackwelder said.

He said some people also use fertilizer to help bacteria in the compost pile decompose the pile’s contents. Coffee grounds are also a good addition to compost piles, he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends three types of contents for all compost piles. The contents are broken into three categories — browns, greens and water. The EPA describes browns as dead leaves, branches and twigs. Greens are defined as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds.

The EPA recommends an equal amount of browns to greens in compost piles.

The best method for keeping a compost pile is to layer different materials, Blackwelder said.

“When it’s layered, you want some really tight stuff, like grass clippings, and then sticks or something loose to allow airflow,” he said. “You want to keep it evenly moist but not over saturated.”

Chopping up materials finely also helps with airflow and composting.

He said warm weather helps compost piles decompose material faster.

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