Potatoes and compost have a complicated relationship, and it’s not as simple as you witness a typical interaction between compost and other organic matters. You can surely compost potatoes, but you have to be very careful while composting them. Potatoes are highly susceptible to diseases, especially blight. If your potatoes show signs of any diseases, do not compost them; otherwise, they will infect the entire compost.
Can You Compost Potatoes?
Potatoes have the ability to initiate new potato growth. So, if you add them to your compost without cutting them into pieces, they will sprout new growth. Another option is to cook potatoes before composting, as they will not be able to initiate new growths after cooking.
Potatoes are organic matter, so definitely, you can compost them. But potatoes and compost are not always good together, so you should consider certain things before adding them to the compost. You can easily compost uneaten cooked potatoes, but composting raw potatoes is challenging. Besides raw potatoes, potato peel is also somehow challenging to compost.
Potato is an underground crop, so be very careful while composting them as they can grow new potatoes instead of turning them into humus. Potatoes are rich in moisture, nitrogen, and starch. Therefore, adding them to your compost pile proves highly beneficial for soil and plant growth. Microbes that help in decomposition utilize nitrogen from the potato scrape and speed up composting as well.
Before adding potato scrape to the compost, you must prepare them well. The preparation involves cutting potatoes into ½ inches or smaller pieces. The smaller the potato piece, the more ideal it will be for composting. You can use a shovel or trowel for slicing potatoes.
After cutting the potato, scrape it into pieces, and add them evenly to the top of your compost pile. Add carbon-rich compost material as a cover to the potato pieces. You can use shredded newspaper, wood chips, and straws. The whole lot will speed up the composting process as nitrogen content will be available for microbes, and they will break down the compost quite easily.
Use disease-free potatoes, and if you notice any diseased potato, you should immediately burn it. You can stop spreading infection only by burning the diseased ones. For smooth composting, check for moisture content daily. Your compost should be as moist as your kitchen sponge is. Adequate moisture is essential for composting. It would help if you also turned your compost pile weekly to incorporate more oxygen into the compost.
Composting Potato Peels
You can compost potato peels also as long as they do not show any signs of disease. The same risks are associated with potato peels that are linked with potatoes. So, you must take precautions while composting potato peels. Especially if your potato peels are showing signs of blight, never compost them. Disease-free peels are good to compost, and they will not take much longer for decomposition.
Also check: Can You Put Banana and Orange Peels in Compost?
Besides disease-associated risks, potato peels are also potentially able to start new growth. If your potato peel has an “Eye,” which is obvious, new growth can sprout. Eliminate the eye portion from potato peels before adding them to your compost pile.
Composting Cooked Potatoes
The best form of potatoes to be composted is cooked potatoes. When the potatoes are cooked, they will break down much easier than raw potatoes or potato peels. The cooked potatoes are easy to digest for humans; similarly, microbes can easily break down these potatoes. There is a misconception among people that they cannot compost cooked potatoes if they produce bad odors. In reality, it’s completely fine to compost decaying cooked potatoes until they are not infested with any disease, which is quite rare for cooked potatoes.
Speeds up Potato Composting
To speed up your potato composting, please follow the given valuable tips.
- Create a hot compost heap rather than the cold one. You need to have a heap of 35 cubic feet in volume for hot composting. The temperature of such compost will reach up to 65°C (150°F). A compost thermometer is used to check the heap’s temperature. Maintaining a high temperature will also speed up the composting process for potatoes and other organic matter.
- Spread the composting material evenly across the surface of the compost pile in thin layers. Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich elements will be highly beneficial to speed up the composting. By doing layering, microbes and nutrients come nearby and fasters the composting.
- One of the most important things to speed up potato composting is to add potatoes by cutting them into small pieces. Larger chunks are difficult to decompose and take more time than tiny pieces.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is potato blight?
Potato blight is one of the most common diseases of potatoes. It is caused by Phytophthora infestans which is a fungus-like organism. It spreads through the foliage and tubers of potatoes rapidly, especially in a warm, humid environment. Potato blight causes collapse and decay in potatoes.
2. Can you use rotten potatoes as a fertilizer?
If rotten potatoes show signs of blight, they must not be added to the soil as fertilizer. You can identify potato blight through brown spots or rots. These spots can be anywhere on the potato’s skin or inside the tuber. Avoid using such spotted potatoes as fertilizers.
3. Can you compost mashed potatoes?
It’s a big yes. You can compost mashed and cooked potatoes. If there isn’t any disease infestation in mashed potatoes, you can surely add them to your compost. Mashed potatoes are a rich source of starch and nitrogen, so they can increase soil fertility if you add them to your compost.