Composting Potato Peels: Are Potato Peels Good For Compost?

Potato peels are often discarded as waste, but they can provide valuable nutrients for compost. Composting potato peels allows you to reduce food waste while creating a natural fertilizer for your garden.

However, there are some important considerations when adding potato peels to your compost bin. The waxy skin can take longer to break down. Potato peels may contain disease organisms that could harm future potato crops if not managed properly.

The Benefits of Composting Potato Peels

Composting potato peels keeps this food waste out of landfills. Americans generate over 35 million tons of food waste each year. Diverting scraps like potato peels into compost is an easy way to reduce your environmental impact.

In addition, potato peels contain nutrients that are beneficial for compost:

  • Nitrogen: Potato peels provide nitrogen, which is crucial for microbial activity and decomposition in the compost pile. Nitrogen is usually the limiting nutrient in composting.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus promotes root, flower, and fruit development in plants. When you apply finished potato peel compost, the phosphorus nourishes your garden plants and crops.
  • Potassium: Often called the “quality nutrient,” potassium helps plants form strong cell walls and become more disease resistant. Potato peels are a great source of potassium for compost.
  • Magnesium: This mineral aids in chlorophyll production, plant enzyme activation, and the formation of oils and sugars in plants. The magnesium in potato peels gets delivered to your garden through the compost.

By composting potato peels, the nutrients get returned to the soil in a usable form. Instead of being sent to the landfill, the potato peel scraps fertilize your plants and soil.

Precautions With Potato Peel Compost

While potato peels offer benefits, composting them does require some precautions:

  • Potato Blight: The most serious concern is the potential for potato blight fungus to develop. This contagious disease is what caused the Irish Potato Famine. Blight can overwinter in potato peel compost and then damage future potato crops.
  • Slow Decomposition: With their waxy skin, potato peels can take longer to break down than other vegetable scraps. The peels may still be visible after 2-3 months in the compost pile.
  • Pest Attraction: Potato peels may attract pests like rats, raccoons, opossums, or insects to the compost pile in search of an easy snack. Proper compost maintenance is key.

As long as you take the right composting steps, these risks can be minimized. The benefits of composting potato peels far outweigh the small precautions. Next we’ll cover the best practices for including potato peels in compost.

Chopping Potato Peels for Compost

To speed up decomposition, it helps to chop or shred potato peels into smaller pieces before adding them to your compost pile or bin. This gives microbes more surface area to work on breaking down the waxy peel.

You can use a knife, potato peeler, or food processor to chop the peels into small bits. It’s not necessary, but it kickstarts the composting process.

Aim for potato peel pieces that are roughly 1/4 inch or smaller. Here are some chopping tips:

  • When peeling potatoes for cooking, put the peels in a bowl and chop them all at once.
  • Freeze a batch of chopped peels until you have enough to add to your compost pile.
  • Use a food processor outfitted with the shredding or slicing disc. Run potato peels through it.
  • Consider getting a compost crank or grinder tool to mechanically shred peels.
  • Wear gloves when chopping potato peels to avoid cutting your hands.
  • Rinse off any clinging bits of potato before composting the peels.

Chopped-up potato peels compost more quickly and integrate into the pile better than large whole peels do. It’s worth taking a minute to chop them up before composting.

Composting Methods That Work Best

You can add potato peels to traditional backyard compost piles, enclosed bins, tumblers, and even worm composting bins. Here are some methods that work well:

  • Turned piles: Actively managing a compost pile enables you to mix in potato peels, aerate the pile, control moisture, and monitor for any issues. Turning the pile speeds decomposition.
  • Tumblers: Rotating drum compost tumblers makes it easy to mix potato peels in with other ingredients. The intermittent turning helps break down materials.
  • Vermicomposting: Worm composting bins work well as long as you don’t overload them with potato peels. Chop the peels finely and bury them in bedding for the worms.
  • Bokashi composting: This anaerobic method ferments materials before composting. The beneficial microbes can help suppress any blight fungus on potato peels.
  • Aerated static piles: Passively aerated piles are another good option. You still need to mix in the potato peels but don’t have to turn the whole pile.

The key is to actively manage the potato peel compost, mixing and aerating it regularly. Closed composting units like tumblers or bins help prevent any pests issues. With proper maintenance, all these methods can successfully compost potato peels.

How Long Do Potato Peels Take to Compost?

With their sturdy waxy skin, potato peels take longer to break down than other fruit and vegetable scraps. Expect potato peels to take around 2-3 months to fully compost.

However, you should start seeing them decompose and shrink in size after 4-6 weeks in an active compost pile. Very little of the original peel structure will be left after 2 months.

Here are some factors that affect the composting timeframe:

  • Chopped vs whole: Shredding or chopping peels dramatically decreases the composting timeline compared to adding whole peels.
  • Moisture content: Potato peels compost more quickly with the right moisture level of 40-60%. Too dry or wet slows the process.
  • Aeration: Turning and mixing the compost provides oxygen to the microbes, speeding up peel decomposition.
  • Temperature: Compost heats up thanks to microbial activity. Warmer internal temperatures above 130°F accelerate potato peel composting.
  • Carbon/nitrogen ratio: An optimal C:N ratio with enough nitrogen and carbon speeds up potato peel composting.

Monitor your compost pile and adjust conditions as needed to facilitate faster potato peel composting.

What Not To Compost Along With Potato Peels

There are a few materials you should avoid composting together with potato peels:

  • Diseased potato plants: Do not compost any potato plant matter that is infected with blight. This can spread the disease into your compost.
  • Cooked potatoes: Cooked potatoes can turn slimy and develop an odor in the compost. Only add raw potato peels.
  • Meat, fish, and bones: Animal products should not go in compost with potato peels, as they decompose differently and attract pests.
  • Weeds: Weed seeds and invasive plants can sprout after being composted with potato peels. Avoid adding weeds.
  • Pet waste: Dog or cat feces can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites. Do not compost pet waste with potato peels.

Stick to raw fruit and vegetable scraps like banana peels, carrot ends, apple cores, and egg shells to safely compost along with your potato peels. Avoid diseased plants or meats.

Tips for Managing Potato Peel Compost

Here are some key tips for managing a compost pile with potato peels:

  • Turn the pile frequently – Turning and mixing the compost once a week or so will help distribute potato peels, improve aeration, and monitor for any issues.
  • Control moisture – Potato peel compost should be damp but not soggy, like a wrung-out sponge. Add water or dry leaves as needed.
  • Chop peels – Shredding potato peels helps break them down faster. Consider getting a compost crank tool for easy chopping.
  • Bury peels – Bury potato peels under 10 inches of compost. This prevents them attracting pests on top of the pile.
  • Aerate – Occasionally poke holes or trenches in the pile to improve interior air circulation, which microbes need.
  • Balance ingredients – Mix high-carbon “browns” like leaves or paper with high-nitrogen “greens” like food scraps to optimize C:N ratios.
  • Monitor temperature – Check that the center of the pile gets hot, ideally over 130°F to kill pathogens and speed decomposition.

Follow these tips, and your potato peel compost will be healthy, pest-free, and fast-acting.

Using Finished Potato Peel Compost

Allow at least 3 months for potato peel compost to mature before using it in the garden. Monitor for any lingering potato peel chunks. Here are some great uses for finished potato peel compost:

  • Mix into vegetable and flower gardens: Blend a 2-4 inch layer into the top 6 inches of soil when planting gardens and beds.
  • Top-dress lawns: Apply a thin layer of less than 1/4 inch onto grass lawns. The nutrients and organisms will filter down.
  • Potting soil amendment: Add up to 30% compost into potting mixes to enrich container plants and window boxes.
  • Mulch around trees/shrubs: Spread 1-2 inches of compost as a nutrient, moisture-retaining mulch in landscaping beds.
  • Compost tea: Brew a “tea” by steeping compost in water, then spray it onto leaves as a foliar fertilizer spray.
  • Seed starting mix: Make a germination mix with 30% compost mixed into seed starting soil or coconut coir.

The composted nutrients from potato peels feed plants and enhance soil. Work the mature compost into any garden, lawn, or landscaping project.

Other Fruit and Vegetable Peels to Compost

Potato peels are just one of many fruit and vegetable scraps you can divert from waste by composting. Other common peels you can add:

  • Banana peels – Rich in potassium and break down very quickly.
  • Apple peels – Contain phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and break down within 1-2 months.
  • Carrot peels – Loaded with potassium and vitamin A. Chop before composting.
  • Onion skins – Provide sulfur, potassium and other minerals. Chop skins into small bits.
  • Garlic peels – Packed with sulfur and micronutrients. Mince them before adding.
  • Cucumber/squash peels – Provide nutrients like vitamin C and manganese. Compost easily.
  • Avocado skins – Full of carotenoids, potassium and other antioxidants. Chop before adding.
  • Asparagus ends – A source of potassium and B vitamins. Cut the ends into smaller pieces.

Essentially all raw fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps can go right into your compost pile. Keep a countertop pail for easy collecting and then empty it into your compost bin regularly.

Avoid Putting Potato Peels Down Garbage Disposals

It’s best to avoid putting potato peels down the sink garbage disposal. The thin peels can easily get clogged partway down the drain line. Over time, a mass of tangled potato peels will cause major clogging issues.

Garbage disposals are also noisy, use a lot of water, and still leave shredded bits of potato peels that must get processed at wastewater treatment facilities. Composting keeps potato peels entirely out of the waste stream.

If you already have a garbage disposal unit, use it sparingly only for wet food scraps that can be quickly ground up. Empty the contents into your green bin or compost pile. Limit putting large amounts of potato peels down the disposal.

Make Homemade Liquid Fertilizer From Potato Peels

In addition to composting potato peels, another eco-friendly option is to make a homemade liquid fertilizer from the peels.

Here is an easy potato peel fertilizer “tea” recipe:


  • 5-10 pounds of potato peels
  • 5 gallons of water
  • 1 tablespoon epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) – optional


  1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of potato peels. Add the epsom salt if desired.
  2. Top off the bucket with water until it’s full.
  3. Use a shovel or stick to mash and stir the peels, making sure they are fully submerged.
  4. Cover the bucket with a lid and let it steep for 3-4 weeks, stirring occasionally.
  5. Strain the fertilizer through a mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or burlap.
  6. Dilute the filtered liquid at a 10:1 ratio before spraying it onto plant leaves or pouring onto soil.

The potato peel tea provides soluble nutrients that plants can directly absorb through their leaves and roots. It’s especially helpful for cold weather veggie gardening. Spray the fertilizer every 1-2 weeks to boost plant growth.


With all their nutrients, composting potato peels is worth the small bit of extra effort. Use the right composting methods, chop peels, monitor conditions, and avoid composting diseased plants or meats with the potato peels.

After 2-3 months of decomposition, you’ll have rich “black gold” compost to spread onto your garden beds and soils. Your plants will reap the benefits of those recycled potato peel nutrients. Instead of becoming waste, the potato peels fuel new growth!