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Citrus Fruit Peels In Compost?

May 11, 2007

I remember reading somewhere that it wasn't good to throw lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits into the compost. Is this still generally regarded as good advice? If so, why?


Comments (14)

  • melonhedd

    Can't tell you if that is good advice, but I use plenty of citrus in my compost - sometimes I'll throw in a whole bucket of peels from my local juice bar. Seems to really get my pile cooking. good gardening to you!

    in the end we are all compost....

  • curtludwig

    Yeah I've heard that citrus won't decompose fast but in my experience that just isn't true. Even in my not so hot pile orange peels disappear as fast as anything.

  • john_bonzo

    I always throw mine in as well...never had any problems with it.

  • ralphdean

    I grab the peels from a local Jamba Juice once or twice a week. Must be the sugar because it sure heats up the heap.

  • terrebonne

    Ya know, I'm thinking the no-citrus thing is related more to a worm composting bin than to actual compost piles or bins. I've never noticed any problem in the regular rot bin with citrus.

  • squeeze

    it's "urban myth" that they're bad for compost or worms - there isn't a problem with citrus in any kind of composting - the limonene ["zest"] needs to be broken down by particular bacteria before they're attacked by the general microherd, and until they're very microbially active, worms won't be interested, so it takes longer than mild sugary stuff, but they decompose fine - I compost {{gwi:285841}}, and with quantity, find putting them thru {{gwi:285842}} speeds things up


  • chunter

    Thanks for all of the advice! Maybe it was in a conversation about vermicomposting that I heard this. I've been wasting those peels for years.

  • rhinelander

    I have found recently that adding grapefruit peel daily cut in small pieces has turned my composting around. I have always had a hard time with it until the citrus. No matter how small I processed vegetable and fruit rinds they just seemed to hang around forever. It just seems everything disappears so quickly now.

  • lazar_bauer_earthlink_net

    I recently took an online composting quiz that said citrus is a compost no-no.

    I believe that citrus peels do contain a naturally occurring insecticide, d-lemonine, so perhaps that's the issue.

    Here is a link that might be useful: no citrus link

  • cabrita

    I find myself with tubs (several) of citrus peels just like squeeze showed a couple of years ago....if your are still reading this squeeze, could you tell me if one could somehow introduce the bacteria that attacks the limonene? maybe worth a google search....

    I do have a mulcher so I will break them down, but we are getting a whole lot of them. We could even have a citrus only compost pile, but not sure if this would be a wise choice. The problem is that as other members observed, everything else in the compost bin looks well composted, but the citrus peels are still uncomposted. I am talking about regular composting, not vermicomposting.

    Also, does anyone know if the final pH reading of a citrus rich compost pile (completely composted) is slightly acidic or neutral?

  • jtackitt05_gmail_com

    This is from an NC State University paper...

    Citrus oil (limonene, linalool) are extracts from citrus peels primarily used as flea dips, but have been combined with soaps as contact poisons against aphids and mites. They evaporate quickly after application and provide no residual control.

    Sounds to me that they are only 'hazardous' to pests when mixed with something - like soap.

    Here is a link that might be useful: NC State University Botanical Insecticides

  • fiddletwigs

    Seems the critters doing the processing are the key. Red wigglers leave citrus peel alone while devouring the rest. Has anyone tried citrus peel as top mulch in areas where insects are a problem? If citrus is a successful insect repellent (or is it a terminator?), might it also repel or harm those species of 6 leggers whose services we need? What about 8 leggers? Anyone know if limonene has the same effect on insect populations native to the areas where citrus is also native?

  • toxcrusadr

    We compost 5-10 lb of coffee grounds and food waste per day at my office, and in winter there are a significant number of citrus peels. They compost just fine, the product is lovely and there is no shortage of insects in and around the bin in warmer weather. We've been doing this for 12 years now. Obviously others in this thread are doing the same. Perhaps whoever is saying not to put them in because they contain flea dip is just sitting at a desk looking at a pharmacological chemistry textbook, and does not actually have a compost pile? :-]

  • blutarski

    OMG DON'T DO IT!!!

    think of teh germz

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