Image by Toshiyuki IMAI
By Heather Rhoades
In years past, some people recommended that citrus peels (orange peels, lemon peels, lime peels, etc) should not be composted. The reasons given were always unclear and ranged from citrus peels in compost would kill off friendly worms and bugs to that composting citrus peels was simply too much of a pain.
We are glad to report that this is absolutely false. Not only can you put citrus peelings in a compost pile, they are good for your compost.
Composting Citrus Peels
Citrus peelings have gotten a bad rap in composting in part to the fact that it can take a long time for the peels to breakdown. You can speed up how fast citrus in compost breaks down by cutting up the peels into small pieces.
The other half of why citrus peels in compost was once frowned on had to do with the fact that several chemicals in citrus peels are used in organic pesticides. While they are effective as pesticides, these chemical oils break down rapidly and will evaporate long before you place your compost on your garden. Composted citrus peels pose no threat to the friendly insects that may visit your garden.
Putting citrus peels in compost may actually be helpful to keeping scavengers out of your compost pile. Citrus peels often have a strong smell that many scavenger animals dislike. This smell can work to your advantage to keep common compost pests away from your compost pile.
Citrus In Compost And Worms
Though some people think that citrus peels in vermicompost can be harmful to the worms, this is not the case. Citrus peels will not hurt the worms. That being said, you may not want to use citrus peels in your worm compost simply because many kinds of worms don’t particularly like to eat citrus peels. Though it is unclear why, many kinds of worms will not eat citrus peels until they have partially decomposed.
Since vermicomposting relies on worms eating the scraps you put into their bin, citrus peels simply would not work in vermicomposting. It is best to keep citrus peels in the more traditional compost pile.