thebeeluva
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Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

Hi Guys,

First time poster here....Whoot!!

We are the owners of a busy little cafe here in Western Australia and we're attempting to compost as much waste as we can from this venture for use around the cafe and home.

Our biggest dilemma is the amount of citrus peel and pulp produced when making cold pressed orange juice. In the summer months we're producing around 30kg of citrus waste per week. I don't expect to be able to compost all of this amount however would like to save am much as possible from the general waste bin.

I'm wondering if anyone might have some citrus specific tips for composting as my initial attempts turned my compost very fruity (and wet) which has taken a bit of effort to get it balanced again. At this stage I'm just using large compost bins which is steadily supplied with paper, garden dry material, garden and kitchen green material, pea straw and aerated every couple of days. Dry material is tricky for me to obtain as my garden doesn't produce much...hence the purchase of straw.

I'm wondering if drying the peel and pulp out in the sun (it gets hot here) would help?

Thanks for any assistance you may be able to provide with this tricky problem.

Cheers
Matt

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applestar
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

Have you considered bokashi composting the citrus waste.? You may have better results, and since its actually not 'composting' per se but an unaerobic/tightly closed fermentation process, less concern with typical citrus concerns like fruit flies and odor.

You can put the finished bokashi in the regular compost pile as super-green or in the garden like manure (hot).

I have to admit to not doing this regularly with citrus, but I did have some success with doing it a few years ago when we received a big box of Florida oranges as holiday gift.

I do small amount of bokashi fermenting kitchen waste for the winter to supplement vermicomposting, but I have read that bokashi is done in drums on farms.
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ACW
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

For your dry "browns" newspaper works well for me ,you could also add the used paper serviettes/napkins from your unit the cardboard that many deliveries come in .
I often bring plantain skins from work to fire up my slow compost bins ,and there i need the browns hence the news paper,of which in London we have 2 every day ,free morning the Metro,and evening the Standard,both free .
A gardener with a small shady back garden and a balcony with containers ,
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

Congratulations on working to manage your cafe and its outputs sustainably!! I'm sure you can advertise that and it will be a draw for customers. One of my favorite restaurants where I am advertises itself as "Tennessee's first green restaurant" and is always busy...

I don't think drying your citrus would really make much difference. It doesn't (much) change the chemical composition (e.g ratio of carbon to nitrogen) which is what we are concerned about for composting.

But it "At this stage I'm just using large compost bins which is steadily supplied with paper, garden dry material, garden and kitchen green material, pea straw and aerated every couple of days. Dry material is tricky for me to obtain as my garden doesn't produce much...hence the purchase of straw." sounds like you are doing everything right. Your kitchen isn't going to produce much "browns" (the dry, high carbon material you were talking about - it's really the carbon content which is important, not the dryness). As already noted, it will help if you use paper napkins and throw them in the barrel with the kitchen scraps and tear up cardboard boxes that things are delivered in for the compost piles. But you are still likely to need to keep a supply of browns handy for feeding into the compost piles. Buying a bale of straw is fine for that. Where I am, we get a ton of fall leaves dropping. I don't know if Australia has that. What I used to do, when I lived on a property that didn't produce a lot of its own fall leaves was drive around the neighborhood and pick up the bags of them people put out at the curb. I would collect a dozen bags to get me through the winter and spring. In your case, you could use all of them you can get.

So what are you doing with all this finished compost you are creating? Do you have a garden to grow veggies for your restaurant? That would be a huge plus!
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thebeeluva
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

Thanks all for your replies. Plenty of food for thought here.

The purpose for the end result is to simply use on the cafe planter pots and for use in around my home and veggie patch. I simply feel guilty throwing all this good stuff away into general waste and have become aware that this is one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the cold pressed juice industry on the whole.

Bokashi is something I dabbled with in the past just on a small scale around the home with varied success. Granted, I was trying to compost all my kitchen waste at the time (including meat) so this is a different situation. It hadn't occurred to me that this can be done on a larger scale and after looking into it have found an interesting idea using wheelie style bins. This would certainly fill the requirements in terms of quantity. My concern would be dealing with the potential sludgy mass that challenges the nose when unpacking? Would a larger scale bokashi require a longer fermentation (ie 3 months?) to allow it to break down even more as opposed to simply pickling observed after the usual 20-30 day batch. I'd then be looking at having 3-4 bins on the go and potentially harvesting one while preparing another each month. The gardens would love me for it!! :)

Standard composting works great and I live in a hot climate so as long as I'm aerating often it works fairly fast. My problem is the amount of brown material needed and the number of bins required to get anywhere close to using all our waste is a real challenge. I had also considered trying to run a hot pile but even then I need a huge amount of browns.

Fortunately I've just moved house and have a whole garage full of cardboard boxes and packing paper so I have another supply of material I'm happy to either give away or recycle in some way. A rapid hot pile might be a good way to get the ball rolling at a guess too.

Many things for me to think about. Thanks again. :)

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

Yes, I can imagine trying to compost all the organic waste from a cafe is a huge project. Not like you don't have anything else to do with your time but manage a bunch of compost piles. :)

The alternative would be to compost how much you want to make enough compost for your planter pots and home veggie gardens and find someone else to take the rest for compost. Do you have some kind of municipal yard waste composting program? Do you know any organic farmers? My experience with organic farms is it is always difficult to make enough compost for what you need.

Are there other organic restaurants around you? They would probably have the same issue. Maybe you could go in together to get some vacant lot or other little plot of land and do some larger scale composting.


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ID jit
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

Welcome!

Am a NooB here too and I think these fine folks will turn me into a gardener yet (in spite of my best efforts to color outside the lines).

Anyhow, the advise here is very good, from what I have experienced, and they are very patient and knowledgable.

All I can really add is that if I had a boat load of soggy fresh greens and a limited supply of browns, I would be drying the soggy fresh greens before adding them to a compost pile which will probably become soggy anyhow. Adding less liquid at the onset means there is less liquid through out the process. (Seems logical enough, but I don't know how sound of an idea it is.)

Any chance you could get a delivery some where of a truck load of saw dust or something similar. High lignin browns take longer to break down, but they do supply carbon and yielld a good result.
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Re: Composting Large Amounts Of Citrus

One of the things you can do since you have more waste than you can manage is to offer it to gardeners to compost in their piles , worm bins, or as rabbit or pig feed. Here people go to restaurants and some grocery stores on their cull days and ask for their trimmings and usually the restaurant is willing to have some one haul it away instead of having to pay to have it hauled. The only thing is that the restaurants usually have to make a deal with the gardeners so that the gardeners don't get stuff they don't want which means the restaurant separating compostables from trash and to make sure there are enough gardeners/ farmers taking turns so that the waste gets picked regularly since the businesses don't want fermenting waste on the premises.
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