Peanut shells are organic material, high in carbon and nitrogen and great for adding to your compost bin. They will be broken down by worms and soil bacteria, turning them into compost that you can add to your soil. Peanut shells are harder than other vegetable food scraps so will take longer to break down. Crush them before adding to your compost pile to help them break down quicker.
Can any type of peanut shells be composted?
You can compost any type of peanut shells, but salted peanut shells need to be soaked first before adding to remove most of the salt. To remove the salt, soak the shells in cold, clean water and change it at least twice to remove as much salt as possible.
Salt is bad for the soil, but if you accidentally leave a tiny bit of it in your peanut shells before composting, you don’t have to panic. A tiny bit won’t hurt it, but it’s never a good idea to put salt in a composting bin simply because it can change the pH level of the soil. It’s best to leave the salt out altogether if you can.
Top Tips to Successfully Compost Peanut Shells
Check out my top tips to successfully compost peanut shells at home. These tips will help them to break down fast and give you finished compost quicker.
1. Make Sure You Crush the Peanut Shells
The first thing you’ll want to do with your peanut shells is to crush them into as fine a powder or small pieces. Some people spread the shells on the floor and walk on them, but you can also use a pestle and mortar or take them outside and crush them with a brick.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it’s best to crush them up well before you do anything else.
2. The Shells Have to Be Soaked
Even if you’re not using salted peanut shells, soak the crushed shells in water for 12-16 hours. This will help them to hydrate, soften up and the soil bacteria and worms will break them down faster.
If you do use salted peanut shells make sure you change the water twice to get rid of the salt. Not only can salt change the pH level of the soil, but it can stop plants from growing well.
3. Add the Shells to Brown Organic Matter
Add the soaked peanut shells with other brown materials such as straw, hay or fall leaves. This will add extra aeration to the compost pile, increasing the microbial breakdown and allowing worms to thrive.
This allows the materials to eventually turn into nutrient-rich compost for your plants faster.
4. Aim for the Right Mixture of Green and Brown Materials
Regardless of what you’re composting, always try to get the right mixture of green and brown materials in your compost bin. In addition to the peanut shells, add things such as coffee grounds, food scraps and some green organic material like leaf trimmings.
The green material supports the growth of beneficial microbes in your compost pile and adds extra moisture. This combination of both green and brown materials makes for a healthy compost pile.
5. Adding Soil and Watering are Important
Once you’ve added all of the ingredients for your compost pile, add a shovel full of garden soil to add extra microbes and lightly water it if the pile is dry. Cover the pile with palm fronds or shade cloth to keep it moist keep it in a shady area.
By doing this, the balance between the heat and the wetness of the compost pile will be enough to keep the pile turning into the right mixture for your plants.
6. Turn Your Compost Pile Regularly
After adding peanut shells to your compost pile mix the pile regularly to add extra oxygen to support microbial growth. Turn the compost pile over with a spade or fork or grab a compost mixer for bins.
7. Give the Compost Pile Some Time
It’s best to give the compost at least six months before using it. When your compost pile turns dark brown and the ingredients can’t be seen individually, this means you can start using it on your plants.
Other Things to Remember About Peanut Shells
In addition to using peanut shells in your compost, they can be beneficial in other areas of your garden. You can use them as a mulch by placing them on your topsoil around the root zone of plants to hold water in the soil for longer.
You can mix them in with other mulch materials like bark mulch and place a layer of 1 to 1.5 inches of shells at the very top.
You can even add ground peanut shells to your worm farm. Check out this video below for tips on how to do this.
You can also use them to reduce the weight of the soil in your potted plants. Just add some peanut shells and mix it in the soil, which not only gives you great drainage and aeration, but it helps the plants look better as well.
Another tip to keep in mind is that even though peanut shells are considered a brown material so you might need to add other scraps to the pile in order to get the right percentage of brown vs. green materials.
Some of the items that you can add along with the peanut shells include grass clippings, vegetable scraps, straw, hay, shredded paper and even torn cardboard. In addition, remember that in order for peanut shells to completely decompose, it will take a minimum of 6-10 months.
Can You Compost Peanut Shells? | Summary
Composting peanut shells is not at all difficult, and it can mean a much healthier and more nutrient-dense soil that you can use on your plants when you’re done. Compost helps the soil to retain moisture, add extra nutrients to the soil, feed soil bacteria and slow down weed growth. Peanut shells are a great organic material to add to your mix and keep out of landfill.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.