By: Liz Baessler
Composting is the gardening gift that keeps on giving. But not everything is ideal for composting. Before you put something new on the compost heap, it’s worth your while to learn a little more about it. For instance, if you ask yourself “Can I compost peanut shells,” then you’ll need to learn whether it’s always a good idea to put peanut shells in compost. Keep reading to learn more about how to compost peanut shells, and if it’s feasible to do so.
The answer to that question really depends upon where you are. In the southern United States, the use of peanut shells as mulch has been linked to the spread of Southern Blight and other fungal diseases.
While it’s true that the composting process may kill any fungus that’s being harbored in the shells, Southern Blight can be nasty, and it’s really better to be safe than sorry. It’s not as much of a problem in other parts of the world, but it has been seen spreading farther north in recent years, so take this warning into account.
Apart from the worry about blight, composting peanut shells is pretty easy. The shells are a little on the tough and on the dry side, so it’s a good idea to break them up and wet them down to help the process along. You can shred them or simply put them on the ground and step on them.
Next, either soak them for 12 hours first, or put them on the compost heap and wet it down thoroughly with the hose. If the shells are from salted peanuts, you should soak them and change the water at least once to get rid of the extra salt.
And that’s all there is to composting peanut shells should you decide to do it.
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Yes, peanut shells are a fine high-carbon addition to your compost pile. Adding peanut shells to your compost will probably tend to dry it out, so make sure you either add water or use enough high-moisture ingredients (e.g. most kitchen scraps or coffee grounds). Also, if you're lacking in high-nitrogen ingredients, then they will take longer to compost.
Yes, peanut shells can be compostable, but be sure that there is no salt on them. Often peanut shells have been salted, and these should not be added to compost because the salt will stay in the soil and damage plants.
Yes, peanut hulls compost well, but if you have quite a lot, I know from experience they work great as mulch. I live in "Peanut Country" so peanut hulls are available here and they work great!!
I have been trying to make a compost with peanut shells. I bought 60 kgs grounded peanut shell and mix it with 500 kg cow manure and 25 kgs ammonium nitrate.I used the ammonium nitrate to make the composting process faster. I covered the mixture with plastic tent to make it hotter. I have mixed them 50 days ago and will wait almost 3 months more. I will test the the manure mixture on tomatos in two groups with peanut and witout peanut mixture. then I will compare the results on leaves color and harvest.
P.S : the inadeuqate cosposted peanut shells can cause fungus. compost the peanut as long as you can
I generally agree with NGA that seedy weeds are about the only thing I DON'T put in my compost, but only because I don't put time and work into creating well-mixed, frequently-turned, HOT compost.
With respect to break-down of nut shells, I don't care. The surface of my garden is littered with pieces of composted eggshell, chicken and beef bones, and nut shells. It doesn't hurt anything and finishes breaking down slowly over a period of years. I'm not trying to win an award for manicured garden.
With respect to salt, it depends on relative volume. A 1/2 gallon of salty pistachio shells (that's a lot of shells) in a 64 cuft compost pile (4x4x4) is NOT a problem. A 50-lb sack of salty nuts. that might be a problem, but it might not be. When I have a bag of salty peanut shells from a restaurant, I usually use them as surface mulch around my asparagus, because asparagus doesn't mind a little salt.
With respect to vermin and smells, it depends on where you are and what type of compost bin you have. If your compost bin is on an apartment balcony, you may need to be more conservative in what you put in the bin. I have a large plastic-walled bin with plastic and wire mesh on top. I have to use the mesh because of dogs and racoons. Now I compost raw meat, cooked meat, fat, oil, nut shells, eggshells, paper plates, napkins, qtips, paper towels, and the rest of the kitchen and garden waste. It helps to have a lot of carbonaceous material (the browns) to mix with the above materials since they're high in water and nitrogen. Covering with lot of carbon material helps to eliminate flies, other bugs, smells, and 4-legged pests.
In warm climates or in the summer, you are likely to attract soldier flies if you compost kitchen scraps. I'm trying to make compost - not fat larvae. So in the summer, I usually bury my compost in wide trenches in an unused garden bed. covered with wire and plastic mesh to keep dogs from digging it up.
I leave compost in the bin for 6 - 12 months, and usually only turn it a few times. When I use my compost in the garden, I sometimes shake it through a homemade 1/2 inch mesh screening box. And then sometimes after picking out the occasional pieces of plastic and foil, I'll just throw all the larger pieces onto the garden surface anyway or maybe back into the compost bin.
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I read a guide that says to crush the shells and soak them in water for a day before composting. I guess that would help speed up the process. We have a couple local steakhouses here in Tulsa that offer buckets of free peanuts and you get to drop the shells on the floor. They must end up in a dumpster in some form or another -- but I don't have the nerve or will go to dumpster diving :)
those might be salted. One of the restaurants that does that here they are salted and one is not.
Seems there is a peanut processing outfit at Madill, that shows to have ground peanut hulls. I may give a call.
That Golden Peanut website is interesting. Who knew that peanut shells had so many uses. The ground peanut hulls are said to be a "flowable" product that can be used as a soil amendment and soil additive. Struck me as funny that they also offer peanut hull pellets that can be used as a biomass fuel.
I think the salted shells would be okay in small quantities. For larger batches, soaking them first would probably remove enough salt so it wouldn't be a problem, although I'm guessing.
You can buy a package of unsalted peanuts. I use peanut shells as mulch and compost. You can put the shells in a thick plastic bag or canvas bag and crush them with your heavy shoes on. I do this until I don't hear crunching sounds anymore. They decompose quicker that way.