harvester
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Citrus In The Compost Pile

When composting is there a point at which too many citrus rinds might be detrimental? What does a lot of citrus waste do for the composition of the compost? :?

cynthia_h
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A couple of years ago, the produce market a block away (YES!!!) had an incredible price on juice oranges in Jan/Feb, so I bought a couple of bags of 'em and made fresh-squozen orange juice for two people Sat/Sun.

This takes 5 or 6 oranges each, at least for the 500-mL glasses we like to use for this luxurious product, so I was dumping somewhere around 20 to 24 orange peels at once into the BioStack on Sunday afternoon. There was never any problem: the orange peels broke down like anything else did, and the worms which had found their way into the BioStack ate the orange peels just like they did anything else.

I occasionally put orange/tangerine/etc. peels into my worm box as well, and the worms don't seem to mind. Not two dozen orange rinds, but whatever we've eaten out of hand.

How many is "many" for you?

Cynthia H.
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applestar
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I can't find the reference now, but I once came across a webarticle about orange juice company in South America that makes vast tracts of compost with their pomace (pulp, skin, etc. remains after pressing). We're talking MOUNTAINS.

At the moment, I can't remember if they use the resulting compost for their groves or for reforestation.... I also can't remember if it was good or bad that they're doing this. :roll: But the point is that the stuff *can* be composted.

harvester
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I juice about 4 oranges a day...sounds like you were discarding a lot more rinds than I would ever be adding to my compost collection. Your first hand experience with a larger volume of citrus rinds bolsters my confidence to just chuck 'em all in. :D Thanks for the input.

rot
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The 10 percent rules

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If you had concerns, I'd say stick with the 10 percent rule. If you maxed out on that without any harm, maybe then try more.

to sense

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rainbowgardener
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Weird! I wrote a response to this yesterday, which seems to have just disappeared!

What I said was to cite rot's 10% rule, in general no more than 10% of your pile should be any one ingredient. I agree that if you stick to that, you should be fine.

I would not want to go over that though. Citrus is quite acidic, so would tend to lower the pH of your compost. If your soil is alkaline and you want that, it could be a good thing, but not necessarily. Also citrus is the active ingredient in the new organic herbicides (e.g. Nature's Avenger) and is used in a lot of cleaning products for grease cutting and anti-bacterial properties. You don't necessarily want your compost to be herbicidal or anti-bacterial. And the active part of the citrus is the oil, which doesn't break down as easily as other components.

Still, I think we all throw some orange peels in the compost, I do, just don't overwhelm it.

harvester
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So both Rainbow and Rot concur...As long as any one of the compost components does not exceed 10% balance should be maintained. My main concern was the acidity factor which has now been addressed. Testing at this site has not yet been done and I must admit I am extremely curious. Additionally, there are a lot of pine and cedar shavings mixed in with the horse manure that I have been composting. I have always heard that wood products can be a nitrogen leach and in this case it may very well exceed 10%. Are there any suggestions for composting the abundance of horse urine soaked shavings and manure that I find myself with?

rot
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rainbowgardener wrote:Weird! I wrote a response to this yesterday, which seems to have just disappeared!
Mwa ha ha ha [diabolical laughter]

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All I've heard is that bedding of urine soaked wood shavings mixed with horse manure is a great mix. If you think things are too woody probably the most handy dandy thing about is grass clippings.

If your woody stuff is just partially composted I don't believe it is a nitrogen draft problem. Non-issue if applied as mulch.

I end up with a lot of citrus. It gets mitigated with all kinds of junk. Haven't noticed a problem.

List of ingredients - grass clippings high on the nitrogen and saw dust at the opposite end of the spectrum. Compare with what you have on hand which if it isn't grass clippings or saw dust is probably somewhere in between.

https://compost.css.cornell.edu/OnFarmHandbook/apa.taba1.html

to sense

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harvester
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I printed out the Table:Characteristics of Raw Materials...and it is now in my permanent file...Thanks! Really useful! I had to look up what C:N ratios were...that seems to be where the biggest disparities lie which brings me to my next question...does the composting process always mitigate the high C:N ratio numbers associated with some of the products on the chart?

I now understand why one of my suppliers of alstroemeria lilies was able to grow huge blossoms and stems a full two feet longer than anyone else at the Flower Mart. When I finally got his "secret" out of him he confided that it was chicken manure...in looking at that table it seems as though chicken manure has a lot of Nitrogen but the C:N ratio isn't through the roof.

Note to Rainbow and anyone else that has had a message disappear: On more than one occassion I have had to hit the Submit Button twice. :? If your message still appears in the box (even after you have heard a click) you'll have to click again. :) The first time this happened to me I was afraid that the message was going out twice but it did not. :D

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