Can I put cooked potatoes in the compost?

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Can I put cooked potatoes in the compost?

Can I put cooked potatoes in the compost?

Having prepared enough potatoes to go around the table, you find that there’s some left over. You will never provide the exact amount so leftovers are almost inevitable. You may be in the habit of dumping cooked potatoes in the trash can but you may also be wondering, can I put cooked potatoes in the compost?

The good news is that you can make compost from cooked potatoes. They will actually rot down very quickly because they’re cooked. In the same way that cooking makes them more digestible to us, they are more accessible to microbial life-forms that will quickly move in and start breaking them down.

Putting cooked potatoes in compost

One concern that some people have is that any cooked food, including cooked potatoes, may smell as they rot down. It’s true, they will smell, for a short while but unless you are dumping a vast quantity of surplus cooked potatoes in with the compost, you will scarcely notice it. That is unless you stick your nose right into the rotting mass and who’s going to do that?

Then we come to the question of; what do we add to cooked potatoes when we put them in compost? There is the basic requirement to balance greens with browns. Potatoes are a carbohydrate food. That makes it a carbon-brown when added to the mix that we want to turn into compost. To get the right mix we need some nitrates (greens) to balance the carbon (Brown) or vice versa.

Can I put cooked potatoes in the compost? Yes, anything cooked will rot quickly.

Potato does contain some nitrates but it will be found in the skin. Given that this, in most cases, will be peeled off, the remaining inner part will have little or no nitrates available.

The only thing that you may want to add is some shredded newspaper to absorb any excess moisture that the cooked potatoes may release.

Can I put cooked potatoes in the bokashi bin?

Putting cooked potatoes in the bokashi bin is one way of getting them out of the way. But this won’t turn them into compost by this method alone. The bokashi process is a fermentation that breaks down the structure of the waste to a constant point beyond which it can be broken down no further.

Putting cooked potatoes in compost and bokashi

The fermentation process will generate acidity. Acids, in the confined space of a bokashi bin, will build up. This will have a ‘pickling’ effect on the mix of all the waste food in the bin. 

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Compost can be made from the broken down food waste that has been put through the bokashi system but the acidity will need time, or treatment, to reduce it to a level where decomposition can generate compost. 

Do potato peels make good compost?

Potato peels will turn into compost when mixed in with everything else. There are some who are concerned about the risk of blight infesting a compost heap from potato peels. This may happen if you peel a potato and the peeled potato appears dark, or even black. If this happens then the best thing you can do is to burn the potato and the peel. 

The peel from potatoes can make compost

A good indicator of a healthy, blight-free potato, is when the potato is a clean white, throughout, when peeled. The peel from this will be safe to put in with the rest of the compost.

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Can potatoes grow from peelings?

It’s possible for potato peelings to sprout into potato plants, in the compost heap. You can avoid this by taking care to peel potatoes in a way that leaves a thin peel. Thick peelings will increase the risk of sprouting and is wasteful of potatoes. If there are signs of sprouting, it will always appear on the surface of the heap. It won’t occur deep down. If anything shows up, you can always pull it out and cut it up before putting it back into the compost. 

Potatoes can be grown from the peel

If sprouting occurs in a compost tumbler, like the Rolypig composter, the sprouted plants will break up and become crushed under the wait of all the rest of the compost in the drum when rolled over. This is another reason for rolling over a tumbler regularly because small plants may start to grow and you may not know that it’s happening.

Can I compost leftover food?

All food leftovers can be turned into compost. Just remember that anything that’s food to us will be food to something else including the microorganisms that convert food waste into compost.

You need to have a small vessel to gather the leftovers as they become available. It needs to be big enough to gather all the leftover food that’s generated over two or three days but no longer. 

Food waste that’s left hanging around in the house for too long is going to smell and attract flies. So, regular trips to the compost pile or Rolypig, if you have one, will be necessary.

Can french fries be composted?

Can I put cooked potatoes in the compost?_02

French fries are what most people know as chips. They are a favourite way of eating potatoes for most people and some may say that it’s difficult to see how any could ever be left over. In most cases, where there does happen to be a surplus, there are usually plenty of willing volunteers to deal with the ‘problem’. 

However, where there is no option but to discard leftover french fries or chips, they can be turned into compost and will break down quite quickly.

The importance of using white lime

Using hydrated white lime will accelerate the composting process. One of the biggest problems that most people have, when trying to make compost, is acidity. Most compost piles have a high level of acidity but it isn’t immediately obvious. This will preserve the material that we are trying to rot down, rather like pickling. The acidity level will reduce, over time, and decomposition will continue.

Leaving a compost pile to gradually find the point of ‘low-enough’ acidity isn’t acceptable if we want material, like food waste, to rot down quickly. This is where the adding of hydrated white lime will make a big difference. White lime will, very quickly, reduce the acidity and will allow you to be more confident about adding all types of food waste to a compost pile if you’re having doubts.

Hydrated white lime is available in a powdered form. You only need to apply a light dusting over the surface of the fresh waste when you add it to the compost.

A bag full will last a long time. You need to take extra care when storing it. It must be kept completely dry. If it’s exposed to any moisture, even atmospheric moisture, it will consolidate into hard lumps, making it unusable. Hydrated white lime is usually supplied in paper bags. So, if you get a large bag, which will be with you for a while, consider putting it inside a sealable plastic bag or empty the paper bag into a sealable plastic container.

Related questions

Do compost bins attract rats?

Yes, all compost bins are a target for rats and mice. Nowhere and no one is immune from this. You need to monitor the situation constantly. You may be lucky. There may be enough residence in your area who are putting down poison or controlling them, in various ways, such that you are relieved of the problem. 

If not, then, you may need to take action and deal with the issue yourself. If you do nothing the problem can quickly escalate to a point where you will probably need to call in pest control experts. Most people manage it by either putting down traps and regularly catching rats and mice. If you use poison, make sure that you conceal it so that birds can’t get at it. It’s unlikely that you will conceal it enough to prevent rats from getting at it.

We have a post that considers the issues of rats. You can find it at: to deter rats in the garden

Can I put bread in compost?

Bread will turn into compost when added to a compost pile. You don’t need to put anything with it. Bread, as most people will have seen, has a habit of going mouldy very quickly. The mould that shows up is the first stage of turning bread into compost. It will then continue on to break down completely after a short while.

Can I put weeds in compost?

The compost pile is the best place for weeds. They will break down completely in the same way that grass clippings will. The best part about pulled weeds is that there will be traces of soil on the roots. This will contain microbes which will enhance microbial activity in the compost pile as a whole.

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What else would you like to know?

How moist should a compost pile be?

How often do you turn your compost pile?

Can you put paper towels in the compost?

Can you put broccoli in compost?

Can you put avocado peels in compost?

Can I put eggs in the compost?


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Can I put moldy bread in compost? Is it better to leave grass clippings on the lawn? How do you speed up composting. 

What not to put in your compost pile How long does it take to make compost? What can you put in your compost bin? 

Image sources:

Cooked potatoes

French fries

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