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Question about composting potato peelings

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

My location is not the right climate & soil for potatoes so I buy most of mine. Seed potatoes are certified virus free but grocery store potatoes - even organic ones - obviously are not. If the potato looks okay, is it safe to put the peelings in the garden? I do grow other things susceptible to potato viruses, especially tomatoes. I have already had problems with my tomatoes, so I am using rotation - but cannot rotate very far (opposite end of the bed, then next bed over).

Hobart, IN

Great question. I had never thought twice about putting potato peels in the compost. I'll be interested in answers as well.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

hello, I have never thought of putting potato peels in the compost pile. Since my community has banned composting and I live on the same block with the mayor and the alderman, I have to be sneaky about composting. I have a low concrete block bed in a far corner hidden by bushes. I also use the lasagna gardening method. Anyway, I'm careful not to throw anything on the compost pile that might produce a foul odor or attract varmints.

I did "google" your question and found an unexpected answer. The answer took another direction saying that if the eyes sprout, they shouldn't have a chance to grow potatoes. There didn't seem to be a concern about viruses.

Then, I read the answer on a UK organic gardening site that better answered your question and was kind of related to the other answer. As long as you bury the peels deep enough so that the eyes don't sprout, you shouldn't have to worry about introducing blight spores produced from living potato plants.

I hope this helps, and I found your question a good one and helpful to me also.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Thank you Greenbrain. I am probably only going to use my compost bin in spring and fall, when I have a big volume of stuff to run through the chipper shredder. For daily kitchen scraps like potato peels, I am going to go back to what my mother (now 93) did when I was a kid: Scraps went straight into a hole in the garden & were buried. She called it feeding the worms, but I guess it is usually called sheet composting. It is hard to compost here, the climate is so dry that things tend to mummify rather than break down. Buried and irrigated, small amounts of scraps are more likely to break down.

Hobart, IN

Thanks for the answers. I asked DD the same question after reading it here and she said she never puts tomato or potato scraps in the compost pile. But based on the info here, sounds like it would be okay to bury it down a little ways into the soil. Should help break up my clay as well.♠♠

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

You are welcome. Now if we can just get through these dreary winter days! : )

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I decided that not only would I want the potato I'm peeling to look okay, I decided I would check the whole bag and make sure they all look okay. Leaving tomato scraps out out of the compost is probably a good idea - at least for me, since I am already having some problems.

Hobart, IN

I have tried putting the potato and tomato scraps in my worm bin. The worms don't really care so much for the potato peels (they do prefer banana peels except for the very outer skin) and I get tomato seedlings when I use the worm compost. But if nothing else, burying them in the ground will be a good spot-composting practice.
Weather is miserable here. Winter doesn't normally bother me much but this one is horrible.

San Diego, CA

I go by the rule that if came out of my garden it can go back in. Even the weeds and diseased plants. Temp of the pile does the disinfecting.

Hobart, IN

My compost doesn't heat up enough since most of my space is in shade. I get wonderful leaf mold though.

Savannah, GA

greenbrain - why on earth would composting be banned?!?

I've never thought about not composting peelings. My pile ages a long time, everything is pretty digested by the time I use it.

I only have 5 raised beds, plus I already deal with problems related to my climate so I don't worry about diseases spread by peelings. Perhaps I should start.

I have started using streptomyces in my soil for blight and stuff. It seems to be working great! My hope is that healthy vigorous plants can fight illness. I do keep any tobacco products or smokers away from the garden though.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Probably someone wasn't careful and attracted rodents ruining it for the rest of us.

Hobart, IN

The theory is that since potatoes (remember the potato famine?) and tomatoes (different types of blight) are in the same family, they can carry disease into your compost and cross-contaminate these plants in your garden. This theory has nothing to do with attracting rodents.

Hobart, IN

Please disregard last response. Thought the question was still about potato peels. Duh.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I compost everything including tomatoes, potatoes and peppers and have no serious disease problems in my twenty five year old garden. Also use almost all saved seed which could potentially carry pathogens. However, like Margo, I don't let smokers touch my plants. I have a greenhouse and grow species orchids. I don't allow smokers in my greenhouse. I've experienced tobacco mosaic and it's been extensive as well as expensive.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

It is hard to get compost to completely break down in my dry climate. Perhaps disease wouldn't be a problem, but I am going on the "ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure" theory.

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