Composting citrus?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Pike_Of_Freedom, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. Pike_Of_Freedom

    Pike_Of_Freedom Junior Member

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    Hi!
    I'm thinking of composting leftovers from the juice bar. It's about 60 % orange / lemon skin, 30% fruit pulp and 10 % vegetable pulp. What worries me is the citrus skin. How does it decompose in compost? Will it disturb the ph value? What should I mix in with it to help decomposing?
    Any ideas? Experiences?
    I have about 20 kilos of leftovers per week, it seems stupid to me to just toss it in the garbage.

    Thanks!!!


    Pike
     
  2. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Citrus seems to make compost heaps go really acidic, so you'd need to add lots of lime (the mineral, not more citrus!). Hopefully somebody can suggest some citrus:lime ratios.
     
  3. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    trenching may be the best bet

    or cut the citrus into small chunks and combine with your normal compost
     
  4. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    I once got a "free" (I'm Irish) 10 tonne truck load of citrus peel from a orange juice factory.
    It developed a crust over the top and took years to decompose.
    if you stood on it you sank into slime.

    Earthworms are said not to like citrus waste.
    Certainly they never went near my truckload.

    Perhaps pyrolysis is the answer for citrus waste.
     
  5. urbanus

    urbanus Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    A commercial orchardist at Mildura advised to scatter skins and pulp back under the citrus trees where they slowly decomposed into the soil. My personal experience is that they take ages to decompose and I certainly would advise not to spread them more than a layer deep. One useful application is to dry them and use them as firelighters; they burn well and give off a wonderful scent.
     
  6. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Now here is agood use for the citrus and other fruit 'waste' you can get

    :iroc: Citrus Peel Waste a Potential Source of Ethanol :drinkers:
    https://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/060406.htm

    I love the fire-lighter idea
    here is another
    US Patent 7115298 - Dried citrus peel supplement for use in commercial poultry feed
    https://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7115298.html
    do chooks like it?


    You would have to invent some low tech. technology for this
    ENER1 to Turn Florida's Tourism Waste and Citrus Peel Waste into Renewable Energy

    #
    Dried citrus peel use in commercial poultry litter - US Patent 6523496

    Biological poultry litter treatment composition and its use Issued on: August 31, 1999 ... The citrus peel byproduct or waste is in a dried state. ...
    https://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6523496.html - Similar pages
    by JH Keithly - 2003 -
    #
    Orange Citrus peel - Vincent Corporation

    The plant will dry approximately 19000 pounds per hour of 82% moisture citrus peel, without the benefit of pressing or the use of a waste heat evaporator. ...
    https://www.vincentcorp.com/tech_papers/fmc3.html -
    Strangely Australia imports all its dried orange peel as I discoved. We do pickle some in Adelaide.
     
  7. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    it all comes down to proportions pike,

    in a heap adding quantities could at least slow things down, for us anything that is vegetable/fruit matter will all break down, so what we do is we don't use compost heaps (too much like hard work) all our rottable kitchen scraps citrus and all gets added under the mulch on an almost daily basis where it all breaks down nicely, so i roughly a 1/2 gallon icecream contaner we can ahve up to 4 or 5 citrus peels added to the otehr scraps, hasn't caused an discernable problems, don't find any peel at planting times.

    len
     
  8. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Yeah, I reckon if you mix it with enough other things it'll be ok.

    Where is citrus native? That might give some ideas of how nature deals with it.
     
  9. jkshed

    jkshed Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Hi Pike,

    I've been told that freezing citrus skins helps them to break faster (you're going to need a big freezer though!). I added a couple of freezer bag full of frozen skins to my compost heap and the next time I turned it (about a month) they'd all disappeared. The freezer smells great too.

    Jo.
     
  10. Pike_Of_Freedom

    Pike_Of_Freedom Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Thanks a lot, people.
    The only thing i can do at this time is to compost it. What makes citrus decompose so slowly? Would adjusting the ph value to neutral at least speed up the process? I don't mind waiting longer for citrus compost because, as I said, I hate to see all that organic matter go to waste. :banghead:


    :evil5: Mighty Pike Of Freedom :evil5:
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    I would guess it's the high concentration of volatile oils in the skins that are the problem as much as the acidity. Citrus oil is antiseptic, which means it kills living things. Might be worth checking out Paul Stamets' work on fungus and bioremediation as there may be something fungal that breaks down citrus.
     
  12. Pike_Of_Freedom

    Pike_Of_Freedom Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Okay, I've contacted Stamets' guy at https://www.fungi.com and he said that there's no fungi that breaks down the volatile oils. He suggested adding buffer to raise the ph value and adding bulk material to defuse some of the effects of the oils.

    Now, which ph level is ideal for compost? Neutral like 6-7 or what? And what do i use to do it? Limestone or something else? Wood ashes maybe?


    :evil5:
     
  13. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    I read somewhere once that if you have a lot of orange peel you can soak it in a drum of water for a few weeks. The acid is susposed to leach into the water andthe peel can then be composted.

    What to do with the water was my initial thought but it could probably be used to water acid loving plants or to water citrus trees maybe, i haven't given in enough logical thought but figured it was worth mentioning...
     
  14. Ichsani

    Ichsani Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Hi all

    After my first attempts at juice pulp composting ended in rank, pongy failure :puke:

    I hit upon a recipe that worked- found through lots (did I say lots?) of trial and error-

    1 part pulp (citrus mainly, some vege and other fruits)
    1 part coffee grounds
    a couple of handfuls of rich soil/old compost/ leaf litter etc
    some token handfuls of lime (for later)
    lots of microbes and wormies (free!)
    the luck of the compost faeries (with us all)


    I used a three stage process - involved, but it worked better than anything else I tried.

    Stage 1:

    The pulp and coffee came in garbage bags when I got them - either way, mix the pulp, coffee and those handfuls of soil in one bag (it really doesn't work without this step - the coffee has effectively been heat sterilsed and the pulp doesn't have many microbes in it - cause the inside of the fruit doesn't - or shouldn't. When I mixed bags without the soil/old compost added, the coffee/pulp 'mummified' and didn't break down for yonks).

    Don't add any water - just the pulp, coffee and soil/old compost innoculent

    The bags can't be so full else they'll tear. After mixing twist the bag shut so there's little air and turn over so its doesn't come undone - you can stack up several bags this way. Leave in a shady spot for at least a few weeks (no sun, not even a bit - another lesson learnt).

    Stage 2:

    When you have enough to make a pile (mine were ~1/2 cubic metre) slice open the bags - they'll be a little whiffy but only slightly. Its not a 'knock you over' kind of pong. The coffee bits look more 'fluffy' and the pulp looks pretty much the same but the smell is 'different' to when it went in ..... don't put it on plants 'to finish off in the garden' at this stage - it'll kill seedlings and such as there is *a bit* of alcohol produced.

    Make the pile as big as you can comfortably turn (or use one of those tumbler things or windrows for bigger jobs). I did mine in compost bays open onto the ground (this helps for stage 3)

    For each bag you add, chunk in a handful of lime (its nowhere near enough lime to neutralise the acidity of the citric acid 'in theory' BUT the theory strictly only holds for an acid and an alkali *by themselves*....and can't account for the diversity of molecules that make up the pulp and coffee, the wonders of life, microbial succession and all that guff.

    Mix the pile around and sprinkle with water - moist not sodden is the aim.

    You *can* add some leaves or straw at this point to make the finished compost less dense but try without first then adapt the mix how you see fit next time.

    Fork it around a few times a week, sprinkle with water to keep it moist.

    I'll get bloody HOT after each forking. This went for about 4 weeks depending on the season and the number of times I turned it. When the pulp doesn't look like pulp any more and it doesn't really get hot after turning its time for:

    Stage 3

    Either move to a finishing bay or leave in the same spot to 'finish' out of the sun. No more forking just let the worms move in. This stage takes about 4 - 8 weeks depending on the season - shorter if its warm. It also helps to cover the pile with hessian, old felt, leaves or something to keep it humid. Leave it alone except for a bit of water now and again.

    That's it.

    This made perhaps the best compost I have ever produced. Rich, very dark, very sticky and very very dense. It smelt wonderfully earthy and was so densely humusy that I reckon you could have modeled figurines out of it. My 1/2 cubic metre piles became about 20 buckets worth each - less than a 1/3 of the original size.

    I had to cut it 70:30 (crappy sandy soil: compost) to use it. Other, more crumbly composts I grow straight into no problem - but not this one. I tried higher amounts of this compost in pots but it dried very hard and shrunk by about 1/3 and would only wet up if submerged in a bucket - hardcore compost!

    If leaves, straw etc are added at stage 2 the compost comes out more fluffy and only needs a 50:50 cut.

    Out of my own curiosity I tested the pH through the stages - end of stage 1 pH ~ 4, end of stage 2 pH ~ 6-7, end of stage 3 pH about 7-9. More often it was about pH 8. After cutting with (formerly) crappy sandy soil pH was ~7. Perfect.

    Hope this helps (at least spare a few people some of my fluff ups :banghead: :?: :fucyc: :banghead: :happy6: ).

    Like everybody else here - I would rather all that organic matter goes to making us more gardens!!!!! (rather than going to landfill to make methane to warm our toes)

    Cheerio

    I'm off to garden :flower:
     
  15. Pike_Of_Freedom

    Pike_Of_Freedom Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Thanks a lot, Ichsani!!! This really helps a lot!! :hello1: :headbang: :blob2: :blob3: :blob4: :blob5: :blob6: :blob7: :blob8: :toothy7: :wav: :wave: :eek:ccasion9:



    :evil5:
     
  16. Ichsani

    Ichsani Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    No worries Pikey - I've found there are always lots of people with helpful suggestions here - and you can find answers to just about anything permie related :wink:

    God knows you guys have helped me heaps before and will again I'm sure

    :rr: that's why this forum is awesome :rr:

    Please keep us updated with your composting :) there's always more to learn

    Cheers
    Ich
     
  17. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    My donkey will eat any surplus oe windfall oranges we have - they never make it as far as the compost heap! She won't touch lemons though...
     
  18. ant1

    ant1 Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Hi,

    The main reason why composting citrus is avoided is because of the presence of Limonene in the outer peel. This compound is generally toxic to worms and/or compost bacteria.

    I generally just avoid using it in compost etc. If you have your heart set on bulk composting of the stuff, perhaps experiment with a few different methods:
    - composting after rind removal
    - composting after shredding and oxidation (I heard that works)
    - composting whole (control)

    Share your results so we don't have to do it!!

    Haha good luck!
     
  19. TheCrone

    TheCrone Junior Member

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    Re: Composting citrus?

    Ok, now I know why all the worms have left my compost pile and it's started to turn digusting, it was the huge amount of juicing orange remnants I added last month.

    Guess I can't just ignore this one. Will have to go and rescue a stinky compost heap :(
     

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