Compost citrus in your home compost bin by chopping into small pieces and mixing through with other compost ingredients such as fall leaves, coffee grounds and straw. Citrus such as lemons, limes, oranges and mandarins can be added whole to your compost bin but will break down quicker if cut into small pieces or add just the peel.
How much citrus to add to compost
Add 2-3 citrus fruits per week to a small backyard compost to keep it in balance. If you only have a very small compost bin then you should only add a very small amount of citrus. Too much citrus in your compost can attract flies and ants. If your compost is too wet or smells, add some more leaves, straw or shredded cardboard and mix it through.
When you add any citrus to your compost, mix it in straight away so small vinegar flies aren’t attracted to it. If you have a bigger compost you may find you can add more citrus, but it is still best to dig it in straight away to help the break down process.
How to compost lemon peel
Compost lemon peels in small amounts in balance with the rest of your compost. Mix them through with other food scraps and some carbon material like straw or hay. This will balance out the pH and absorb any excess water.
Make sure that there are at least 2 times as much brown material like dried leaves, straw, sugar cane mulch or shredded paper as there are green materials like lemon peels and vegetable scraps. This will help to keep the moisture balance correct. If you find your compost gets too wet, just mix through some extra straw or dry leaves.
How to compost oranges
Chop whole oranges up before adding to your compost or just add the peel. Start by adding 1-2 oranges to your compost per week to see how much your compost can break down without smelling or becoming too wet.
Air temperature, rain, brown and green material balance all make a difference in the way the compost will break down and how much citrus you can add. A small home compost can usually handle 2-3 oranges per week, cut in pieces and mixed through with brown material. But make sure you keep checking and make sure
How to compost lemons
You can compost lemons in your home compost and they will break down best if cut up into smaller pieces or just add the peel. Balance is the key so if you have lots of lemons to get rid of, it is much better to add some to you green compost bin (if your council takes food scraps) or even bury some in your soil.
An easy way to compost citrus in a hole
If you find that you have too many citrus fruits for your compost bin, try digging a small hole, around the size of a bucket and layer it with a range of green and brown materials like:
- Food scraps
- Citrus – lemon, limes, oranges or mandarins
- worm castings
- coconut coir
- old potting mix.
Add this all in the hole, filling it right up to the top and mix it through if you can. This will rot down over time, and you can keep adding more food scraps and brown materials to the top. Over a few months this will be the perfect place to plant a new vegetable, flowering plant or tree in your garden as it will be full of organic goodness.
How to compost citrus – FAQ
All citrus fruits can be composted which is great news. There are not any citrus fruits that can’t be composted. If a citrus fruit can grow naturally, it can also break down in compost naturally.
The most important factor is the balance of green and brown material in your compost. If you are adding citrus fruit, you will need to add plenty of brown material like leaves or straw to help to absorb the moisture and balance the pH.
Add at least twice as much brown material than citrus fruit. Citrus fruits will add some acidity to the soil so balancing this with brown material will help your compost break down well.
You can compost orange and lemon peel. Orange and lemon peel are actually better to compost than whole fruit as they can break down quicker. This is because the peel has more surface area than whole fruit.
Orange and lemon peel won’t make your compost too wet and soggy as they contain less water than the whole lemon or orange. You compost can become too wet if you add whole lemons and oranges to your compost so remember to add some brown material too.
You can compost whole lemons but it is best to cut them up into smaller pieces as they will break down quicker. Mix the lemon pieces into your compost well and will help them to break down and deter any flies.
You can compost onions and citrus together in your home compost bin. The key is to cut them into small pieces or to just compost the peel of the onions and citrus. If you add onions whole, they will try to sprout and grow and won’t break down.
Make sure you cut up the onions so the root system does not sprout. Dig the onions through your compost well and balance it with brown materials like leaves and straw. Burying the onions will also help to reduce the smell that might come as they break down. Burry them at least a few inches under the compost and this will help.
The other trick is to mix your compost regularly. Use a fork or compost stirrer to add air and mix the ingredients through. If your compost is healthy and is on ground soil, you will find that garden worms and good insects will work their way through your compost to help it to break down.
You can compost garlic skins with citrus in your home compost bin. You can compost all parts of your garlic including the skins, stems and cloves all together with citrus. Cut them up into small pieces and mix them through your compost with your citrus.
Handy Hint: Make sure you add lots of brown material to balance out any green citrus or garlic. Garlic skins are dry so actually count as brown material where as the stems and cloves are green. They will contain more water so will need to be balanced with brown material. Garlic will add nitrogen to your compost so is a great addition to any compost heap.
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.