Every time you throw away banana peels, you’re not only discarding a tasty, nutritious snack but also tossing out nutrient-rich additives for your garden. Banana peels contribute essential nutrients to compost, reducing food waste and nourishing soil and plants.
While composting seems easy, there are many things you should know about adding banana peels to compost. This article covers a lot, from the benefits of banana peels in compost to how composting is done and other uses of banana peels in the garden. Let’s get started!
Can You Put Banana Peels in Compost?
Yes, you can add banana peels to compost. Vegetable matter and fruits like bananas are compostable. As a compost material, banana peels add nutrients such as potassium, calcium, sulfur, phosphates, and magnesium to your compost mix.
In addition, due to their decomposing ability, nutrients are easily added to the soil. Furthermore, bananas in compost promote moisture retention and aeration in the soil. So it’s not surprising that experts advise adding them to compost piles.
How Do Banana Peels Help in Compost?
Banana skin or peels contain a truckload of nutrients that support composting. Little wonder, they are a rich source of natural fertilizer for your yard or garden. Adding banana peels to compost supplies the following nutrients:
- Potassium: About 40% of banana peels contain potassium, one of the primary nutrients plants need for growth and development. The macronutrient help plants develop strong roots and stems, promote water distribution and other nutrients, and activates plant enzymes.
- Calcium: Calcium strengthens plants’ cell walls, roots, and stems. It also activates certain enzymes and sends signals that support cellular activities like breaking down soil nutrients and translocation.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus supports the growth of healthy roots and shoots, pollens, and fruits. The macronutrient is crucial to cell division, promotes energy transformation, and stimulates tillering.
- Magnesium: The micronutrient aids photosynthesis by activating the enzymes involved in the process. Magnesium also facilitates the translocation of carbohydrates and the production of fats and oils.
- Nitrogen: Nitrogen, required in small amounts, regulates water and nutrient uptake. It also supports plants’ biological processes, including growth, transportation, excretion, and absorption.
Other secondary nutrients include sulfur, sodium, phosphates, and trace elements like zinc, manganese, molybdenum, and iron. Due to the number of nutrients in banana peels, it’s evident that these peels supercharge compost.
That said, banana peels are an essential organic matter to add to a composting pile since they are nutritious, offering several benefits to plants.
Are Banana Peels Green or Brown Compost?
Depending on the conditions they are exposed to, banana peels double as green or brown compost. While banana peels are kitchen scraps and are considered by many as green matter, these peels form a balance between green and brown material.
Typically, the carbon-nitrogen ratio determines if a material is green or not. Green materials have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1 or less and are usually wet. To determine if a material is brown, consider the concentration of the nitrogen content. Brown materials are carbon-heavy, with a carbon-nitrogen ratio varying from 50:1 to 500:1.
As earlier stated, banana peels may be classified as green or brown material depending on the conditions they are subjected to. When bananas are left out, they become brown, but typically they’re green matter because they’re kitchen scraps.
Also, they have a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 35:1, but this may vary depending on the composting method. For example, when you’re cold composting, the carbon-nitrogen ratio may range from 30-35:1, so you can increase the number of banana peels without worrying about altering the ratio.
If you’re hot composting, the expected carbon-nitrogen (C/N) ratio would be about 25:1. Here, you would need to add more nitrogen-fixing materials or banana peels.
Best Way to Compost Banana Peels
While you can use fresh or dried banana peels in your garden, experts advise you to compost peels for a positive outcome. Here’s how best to compost banana peels.
Choose an Area For Your Compost Bin
In composting, the first step is finding a location for your bin. Traditionally, your compost bin should be in the corner of your yard or garden and accessible as well; however, not in a place where offensive smells will be wafting through your windows. The area needs to be well aerated, receiving enough sunlight too.
Collect Your Composting Materials
To properly develop compost, you need a balanced amount of greens, browns, and water. Greens are mostly kitchen waste, while browns include dry leaves, paper, wood chips, etc. Gather dead grass, fallen leaves, twigs, kitchen scraps, straw, newspaper, and sawdust, and add them to your compost pile.
Prepare the Bananas
Experts recommend cutting banana peels into small pieces about one or two inches using a kitchen knife—the smaller the pieces, the faster the decomposition process. Furthermore, add composting materials like eggshells, fruits, and vegetable scraps to the pile.
Maintain Your Compost Bin
Ensure you arrange your compost pile in alternating layers of green and brown. Add water if the pile is dry to make it damp. Lack of water disrupts the composting process, and excess water in compost will make it rot in an unhealthy way.
As decomposition occurs, turn the compost pile using a shovel or pitchfork every week. This permits air into the pile, supporting the breakdown of organic matter. Keep stirring regularly till the compost is completely broken down and ready for use.
Keep the following tips in mind when composting:
- Always ensure that brown and green materials complement each other; it makes for balanced compost.
- To reduce the offensive smell of compost, you can compost in the bin instead of in the open.
- Add worms to compost to help speed up peels and organic matter breakdown.
- Composting banana peels in the bin using worms can take up to three weeks.
- Open the lid of the bin regularly to allow airflow. Microbes and worms require oxygen for respiration and cellular functions.
How Long Does It Take Banana Peel To Compost?
Banana peels can take months to years to decompose, depending on the soil condition and other factors like composting method, moisture retention, temperature, and sunlight. The rate at which compost absorbs water and sunlight invariably affects decomposition.
In a well-maintained compost pile, banana peels may take 6-9 months to decompose. While they are biodegradable, they decompose slowly; hence you shouldn’t dispose of banana peels anyhow you deem fit. Instead, discard them properly, so the decomposition process isn’t altered.
Slow decomposition usually results from the excess water content that microbes need to survive, grow and reproduce.
Meanwhile, microbes feed on these banana peels, converting them to compost. Unfortunately, this microbial action takes a long time.
To quicken decomposition, ensure the compost pile is well aerated by supplying it with adequate oxygen so microorganisms can easily break down matter. Another way to increase the decomposition rate is by rotating the composter from time to time or boring holes in the composter to promote air circulation.
In What Conditions do Banana Peels Compost Fastest?
Banana peels decompose fast when cut into smaller pieces, mixed with water, or supplied with oxygen. Also, mixing fruits and vegetables with banana peels boosts the decomposition process.
Other Uses of Banana Peels in the Garden
Using banana peels for compost has numerous benefits for your garden. Besides supplying plants with the required nutrients to grow healthy, these are the other uses of banana peels in your garden:
Bananas have a strong smell that acts as a deterrent for green aphids and other pests. To drive away pests, cut banana peels into thin slices and put them at the base or wrap them around the stems and branches of plants attacked by these organisms. Over time, the smell of the banana peels will repel the aphids.
Alternatively, you can create an insect trap using apple cider vinegar and banana peels. First, mix the peels and apple cider vinegar, allowing the peels to soak in the vinegar. Next, pour the vinegar and banana mixture into a container drilled with holes to allow the entry of pest insects.
You might want to do this before covering the container with a lid. The banana scent attracts the insects, trapping them in the liquid.
While the sweet nectar of flowers attracts butterflies, fruits, especially rotten and overripe ones, also appeal to them. Besides feeding on nectar, they promote pollination by carrying pollen grains from one flower to another.
To draw butterflies to your garden, leave ripe and mushy banana peels in your garden and watch as they come in their numbers to feed on the peels. To make the peels more appealing to the butterflies, chop them into tiny bits.
You should know that butterflies enjoy soft and juicy fruits because they can quickly slurp the juice.
Increase Soil Nutrients
Adding banana peels to the soil before planting seeds increases the soil nutrients and supports the healthy growth of plants. First, add peels to the soil, and dig a hole about a few inches deep. Next, arrange the peels in a flat position in the hole and add your seeds to them. After that, fill up the holes with soil. When germination begins, peels decompose over time, forming a rich fertilizer.
Feed Plants Banana Vinegar
Acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, and gardenias benefit immensely from banana vinegar. Banana vinegar helps to adjust soil acidity in your garden. To prepare banana vinegar, follow these steps:
- Ferment leftover banana peels. Then, add 4 cups of water to banana peels in a large pot over high heat.
- Once the water boils, remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool for 30 minutes.
- Strain the mixture on a sheet of cheesecloth to separate the peels from the vinegar. You can discard or store the banana peels for later use.
- Add sugar to the strained mixture and boil over high heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Store the vinegar in a clean, airtight container or jar for further fermentation.
- Allow it to stay for seven days before adding vinegar starter. Then, after adding the vinegar starter, store the jar in a cool place for 21 days.
- Filter the content in the jar using a cheesecloth. Discard the sediment or dead yeast left from filtering.
- Pour the content back into the container and store for another four weeks.
- Boil over high heat for 10 minutes to separate the vinegar.
- Store the banana peel vinegar in a jar in a cool, dark place. If vinegar seems too concentrated, dilute it with water to prevent plant burns.
Support Soil Amendment
In preparation for garden beds, you can use banana peels to amend your soil. First, cut banana peels and toss them into the tilled soil.
Alternatively, you can decide to use the banana peels in whole instead of chopping them. Ensure that it’s deeply embedded under the mulch using whole banana peels. You don’t want to attract mammalian pests to your garden.
On the flip side, banana peels stimulate microbial activities within the soil, which helps improve soil quality.
Brew Banana Peel Tea
There are different ways to brew compost tea, an all-natural enriched liquid fertilizer that increases plants’ resistance to diseases and pests. Here’s how to brew banana peel tea.
- Fill a jar with water (three quarters) and refrigerate.
- Add chopped banana peels to the water. Continue adding peels till the jar is filled to the brim.
- Strain the mixture and store it in the refrigerator for later use.
- To use the compost tea, add 1 cup of the tea to a gallon of water and stir. After stirring, you can now water the plant base with the mixture.
Alternatively, you can make small batches of compost tea if you don’t want to refrigerate banana peel tea. Add banana peels to a small amount of water and allow to sit for two days under room temperature. Then, decant the mixture and water your plants.
Grind Banana Peels For Fertilizer
Bananas, enriched with potassium and phosphorus, are nutritious when added as a natural fertilizer. Grind dried banana peels into fertilizer and add to your garden soil or sprinkle lightly on plants to prevent burning. Here’s how to make fertilizer using banana peels, Epsom salt, and egg shells.
- Sun-dry your banana peels or dry them using a dehydrator. Ensure you place the peels on parchment paper to easily collect them once dried. You can dry the egg shells alongside the peels.
- Place the dried banana peels and eggshells in a processor. Switch on the processor and grind the substances into a fine powder.
- Pour powder and Epsom salt into a spray bottle.
- Add water to the content till it’s halfway full. Shake vigorously till the salt and powder dissolve completely in water.
- Spray mixture on houseplants. However, avoid spraying directly on plants as it can harm them. Also, don’t apply the mixture to plants exposed to full sunlight and avoid applying excess fertilizer.
Splinters may lodge in your skin or hand when gardening, which can be tricky to remove. Place a banana peel on the splinter for about 15 minutes, then remove it gently. While removing the peel, the splinter tags along.
Can Compost Worms Eat Banana Peels?
Yes, they can eat banana peels. Compost worms play a huge role in breaking banana peels into organic matter, and banana peels with brown or black skin are easier to break down than fresh ones.
You can increase the decomposition rate by chopping the banana peels into slices or pieces so the worms can easily consume them.
In addition, fresh banana peels are harder to disintegrate, so the worms will let them stay for a while to deteriorate.
Do Pesticides Have Any Effect on Compost?
Pesticides like aminopyralid, clopyralid, and bifenthrin pose a problem in composting. Over the years, many farmers and gardeners have reported damage to their crops and flowers after applying compost containing the pesticides mentioned above.
During the composting process, pesticide levels in the compost pile reduce through adsorption, volatilization, leaching, mineralization, or decay. This means that toxins in pesticides may decay into simpler molecules, escape into the atmosphere, form bonds with other compounds or become part of humus molecules. Some leach from the pile, draining away with run-off.
Mineralization is the most preferred degradation process for pesticides in compost. It involves separating organic compounds into inorganic and organic components, and the organic constituents break down into simpler molecules like water and carbon dioxide.
While the carbon dioxide evaporates into the atmosphere, water undergoes composting. As a result, the inorganic components or mineral constituents of the pesticides find their way back into the soil.
Though these processes reduce the potency of pesticides in the compost mix, some of them have harmful effects on the environment. For instance, volatilization and leaching don’t convert the pesticides components, and the decaying process does not usually convert constituents into less toxic ones.
Adsorption renders pesticide molecules immobile (external link), which seems a plus since they can’t react with the human body. However, there is a downside as microbes can’t break down the pesticide molecules in the compost pile; hence they are still toxic to the environment.
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.