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I've read somewhere that (organic) banana peels make a good fertilizer. You simply cut them up into small pieces and bury those around the plants in your garden.

But how effective are banana peels compared to an organic fertilizer you'd buy from a store? Could I feed my roses and herb and vegetable garden with only banana peels and have similar results as with store-bought fertilizer?

And do other fruit peels work just as well?

EDIT: Please note that I'm not interested in other approaches such as composting the fruit or other material first (I already do vermicomposting, but that's not the point here). My main interest is if adding chopped up fruit peels directly to the soil is effective and could potentially replace the use of other fertilizers.

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    We find the chickens love them, so they go through the chickens and come out as nitrogen-rich biomass. Which doesn't answer the question, but it's worth noting that if you have chickens composting the peels is possibly a wasted opportunity. Citrus peel they won't eat, but jackfruit and durian they will (finally, a use for durian!) – Móż Oct 5 '16 at 23:20
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Like all organic matter banana peels can simply be buried & allowed to compost in place. My grandmother preferred this method to piles & just dug a new, small hole every day- one beside the other- in the grass alongside her multiple planting beds. In the course of a year she went all around her yard! Banana peels are especially valuable because they rot relatively quickly & have high potassium, plus magnesium & other good minerals that're expensive to purchase as fertilizer. She saved them for her rose bushes, which were exceptionally fine & full of blooms every year. She did note 2 problems: 1) peels break down more slowly in the dirt than they do in air; and 2) there would be a short-term nitrogen loss as the peel broke down. If you need quicker release pre-composting is a better method. To prevent nitrogen drop from harming the plant she broke them into lots of strips & buried in multiple holes around the roots, plus she gave a nitrogen boost. There are other ways to use banana peels & overripe bananas and several sites show methods like sprays, powders & banana water soaks.

Other peels are valuable, too, because they're already thin & small so they break down quickly. Citrus peels are especially valuable because they have d-limonene, a pungent fragrance & natural insecticide. This may keep bugs away from your compost pile as well as adding nutrients. We prefer to extract the oil to combine with garlic for excellent bug spray. Some folks get good results just pureeing the peels with water & spraying the strained solution on.

I hope this is useful for you!

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    Welcome to Sustainable Living @Eileen. Nice first answer. You should be able to add those links now :-) – andy256 Apr 20 '15 at 1:43
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We used to throw away our banana peels and all other fruit and vegetable peels in our veggie patch, but they take a long time to decompose and also invite snails. Especially the orange peels, which are a good amount of biomass are a good attraction for snails. We now collect peels until they fill up our grinder, and then grind them before throwing them into the tree roots. Putting a decent amount of water helps the grinder break up the peels faster and finer. The grinded and finer product should be as good as raw banana peels, and should be more quickly absorbed by the soil. At least we believe so! Can a soil expert here confirm this understanding?

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There's nothing particularly magic about banana peels compared to other peels. But if you're putting these in the garbage, you totally should stop doing that and use them in your garden.

Cutting up individual peels and adding them to the garden is way too much work for me. Instead, I have a small lidded bucket on my kitchen counter. I add all fruit peels, cores, vegetable peels, stalks, and other bits of raw fruit and veg as the day goes on. I also add eggshells and used coffee filters full of coffee grounds. Nothing cooked, nothing non-vegetable. When it's full (more than once a day in the summer) I take it outside and put it on the compost pile which can be as simple as literally a pile on the ground.

Occasionally (say at the start of the growing season, and during the summer if you feel like it) I turn the whole pile over to make an upside down pile next to it. I have mesh bins to make this process slightly neater. Then new stuff continues to get added to the old location. The turned over pile is now a source of compost to put around your plants, add shovelfuls of when transplanting things, and so on. If you like you can run a three-pile system - take compost from pile 3, turn pile 2 over into where pile 3 was, turn pile 1 over into where pile 2 was, always add new stuff to pile 1. You can add pulled up garden plants and whatnot to pile 1 as well.

In this way your garden gets the organic matter from your peels and you throw out less garbage. It is actually less work to compost this way than to throw my peels away and empty the garbage more often.

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I have added banana peel to my garden compost bin in the past but how quickly they break down depends on the climate. Here in Northern England our weather is generally fairly cool so the banana peel only breaks down slowly. I use homemade garden compost as a general soil feed in early Spring.

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    Thanks for this. Do you know if the banana peel is at first a Nitrogen absorber when it starts breaking down, only later releasing it again? I know this can be an issue with some organic materials that are slow composters. – EnergyNumbers Apr 17 '15 at 9:50

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