The problem newcomers to composting face are knowing which ingredients are safe to add to a compost pile and which to avoid.
Banana peels are one of these items that gets confusing as some experts say don’t do it, while others say they are a fantastic compost ingredient.
To end the debate, I put together this short guide to composting banana peels, including pros and cons, how long they take to decompose, and steps to composting them, so they quickly break down.
Can you compost banana peels? Yes, so stick around to find out how!
Can Banana Peels Be Composted?
Yes, you can compost banana peels just like any other fruit or vegetable scraps, but you do need to take special care to have them decompose quickly.
While you can toss banana peels in whole to your compost bin, it’s better to follow the steps below to make them more manageable.
If you have a worm composting system, you’re really in luck, as worms love banana peels and can process them very quickly.
In outdoor bins or piles, the contents will get too hot to support earthworms, so you can’t rely on them to do most of the work for you.
You’ll need to tend to your compost regularly to deal with banana peels as the outer skin is tough, and the fruit can create unpleasant smells. A good balance of brown ingredients can help offset the wetness banana peels add to the pile.
While you can use a cold composting system to process banana peels, a hot system is much better to deter pests and other issues.
Pros And Cons Of Composting Banana Peels
If you eat many bananas, you’ll need to alter your composting routine to accommodate the issues the peels will bring to your system.
The use of bananas in compost is perfectly safe, but do be aware of these benefits and disadvantages before you start:
- Is an excellent “green” compost material
- Adds phosphorus
- Adds calcium
- Adds potassium
- Adds magnesium and amino acids
- Great for vermicomposting
- Recycles a common kitchen waste
- Peels need prep for better decomposition
- Need to balance with brown ingredients carefully to avoid slimy compost
- Can attract and breed lots of gnats
I do think you should avoid making a compost tea from straight banana peels and water inside a jar and soaking it for a few days.
While this trend is hot right now, the reality is that most of the nutrients in banana peels don’t release into the water as it does when it breaks down in a compost bin.
Another disadvantage is the final tea can stain the leaves of certain plants, the soil takes on a sickly sweet smell, and gnats find that smell very attractive which is a real issue if you’re using the banana compost tea on houseplants.
How Long Does It Take For A Banana Peel To Decompose?
You can expect a whole banana peel to decompose in about a month.
How fast all the material breaks down depends on other factors such as weather, temperature, moisture, and if other organisms can aid in the process.
The banana peel’s outer skin will often dry out if left uncovered, making it very fibrous and difficult to finish breaking down.
Inside a compost pile, you can increase the time it takes to break down by a week or two if you treat the peels before adding them to the bin.
How To Compost Banana Peels
Follow the steps below to compost banana peels efficiently:
Step 1. Remove the Sticker From the Banana Peels
Those pesky stickers on bunches of bananas are almost always vinyl or plastic, which you don’t want to add in any form to your compost. Peel them off and discard them in your regular household trash.
Step 2. Chop up the Banana Peels
To promote the quickest breakdown of the banana peels, you should cut them into chunks about an inch long.
The smaller the chunks, the faster they’ll decompose and add their nutrients to your compost.
You can use a knife, kitchen scissors, or toss peels into a food processor to reduce the volume of the material into small bits.
Step 3. Balance the Banana Peels with Carbon Ingredients
You need to add a good ratio of carbon or brown ingredients to your compost when adding banana peels.
One part peels to three parts brown material like dry leaves or grass, shreds of cardboard, or straw are great choices to offset the nitrogen and keep the compost bin or pile in balance.
Step 4. Layer the Banana Peels and Carbon Material in Your Composter
If you already have an active compost pile going, you can form a ditch in the top of your heap and layer in your banana peels and carbon ingredients.
Cover the top with more incomplete compost and let sit one day. After one day, continue working your pile or compost tumbler on your regular schedule.
If you’re starting a fresh compost pile using banana peels, it’s best to mix the peels with other kitchen scraps like vegetable peels or green garden clippings.
Lay down a good base of brown material, then layer up your nitrogen ingredients (which include the banana peels) and more carbon ingredients, finishing with a layer of dry leaves.
You can sprinkle a compost starter over the material before you put it on the final layer. The compost starter will inoculate the pile with beneficial microbes and fungi to jump-start the composting process.
Step 5. Turn and Tend to the Compost Regularly
If you don’t have them, get yourself a quality compost thermometer and moisture meter to make it much easier to keep your compost system actively working.
If the internal temperature of your compost begins to drop, you know it’s time to mix the pile to add oxygen and blend the ingredients so the microbes become more energetic in their feeding.
If you see the moisture level isn’t ideal, you can spritz the compost material with water as you turn it to bring it back to optimal levels.
You want to work the compost pile every three to six days, turning it well and moving material from the outside to the inner portion of the heap so all the ingredients break down evenly.
It’s better to turn a compost tumbler every few days while turning an outdoor compost pile every five or so days.
It’s safe and easy to compost banana peels, and it’s up to you how fast you want the material to break down.
You can toss in whole peels and wait longer for compost to finish, or you can chop them up and have compost ready for your garden sooner.
Your garden plants can benefit from the potassium, magnesium, and calcium found in banana peels, so don’t let the free nutrients go to waste!