Composting Potato Peelings: How Do You Compost Potato Skins

Compost Pile With Potato Skin Peelings
potato peelings
(Image credit: Mickis-Fotowelt)

Perhaps you've heard composting potato peelings is not a good idea. While you need to be careful when adding potato peels to compost piles, composting potato peelings is beneficial.

Potatoes contain nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Composting potato peelings adds these nutrients to the pile and benefits the plants that will eventually be grown using that compost. So why the controversy?

Can Potato Peels Go in Compost?

The problem that can arise from adding potato peels to compost piles is that whole potatoes and their skins can carry potato blight. This is a fungal infection that affects both tomato and potato plants. Potato blight spores survive from one season to the next by overwintering on live plant tissue. Infected potato tubers are the perfect host.

The symptoms of blight on potato and tomato plants include yellow patches with brown centers on the leaves and dark patches on potato tubers. This is followed by the potato tubers rotting from the skin toward the center and eventually turning into a soggy mass. Unchecked, potato blight can wipe out entire crops of potatoes and tomatoes. There is reason for concern when it comes to adding potato peels to compost piles.

How Do You Compost Potato Skins?

Luckily, avoiding the spread of blight when composting potato peelings can be accomplished by following a few simple precautions:

  • Don't compost potatoes showing evidence of blight. Store-bought potatoes can also carry the fungus.
  • When adding potato peels to compost piles, bury them deep to prevent the eyes on the peels from sprouting.
  • Build your compost pile with the right components. These include adequate amounts of air, water, greens, and browns. Greens are fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps, coffee and tea grounds, weeds, and grass clippings. Browns are wood-based products like sawdust, dead leaves, and paper.
  • Make sure the compost pile stays consistently moist.
  • Turn the pile every few weeks.

Following these precautions will help keep the compost pile active and generate sufficient heat to kill fungal spores. This makes adding potato peels to compost piles perfectly safe!

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.