Why can't you compost coconuts?


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I was looking through the rules of New York City's former pilot program in composting to get an idea of what may happen when they implement it city-wide, and one of the things I didn't understand was why they said you couldn't compost coconuts. Why not? Do the husks not biodegrade or something? Is the meat of the coconuts too oily? I'm puzzled.
 
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I'm no composting expert but I've noticed in my own compost pile even the rinds from some types of avocado don't decompose. I went out this spring and they were still solid, crispy, and when I stepped on them they crunched up. Peanut shells don't break down well, either. That one makes sense, though, since peanuts grow underground so their shells would have to stand up to the moisture, etc., in the dirt. I think it's a real possibility that coconut husks won't break down either.

I was curious enough to Google this. The video I watched said coconut shells (he used the word "core") make great composting material for gardens because the fibers hold a lot of water. He did say they take a lot of time to break down though. Maybe the folks doing the NYC project just don't want to bother?
 
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Peanut shells are used for mulch, so that should tell you something about them. Some things take longer to break down in compost than other things. I doubt that coconut shells are volatile since they are used in creating planters. It's more likely that NY doesn't want them in the compost because they will take up space and not break down as fast as other materials like wood.

If you have coconuts you want to compost, you would get better re-use from them turning them into planters.
 
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Peanut shells are used for mulch, so that should tell you something about them. Some things take longer to break down in compost than other things. I doubt that coconut shells are volatile since they are used in creating planters. It's more likely that NY doesn't want them in the compost because they will take up space and not break down as fast as other materials like wood.

If you have coconuts you want to compost, you would get better re-use from them turning them into planters.

OMG I love the idea of a coconut planter!! And am totally going to do this!! It will make my yard and garden have a more tropical feel- which I lovee! My name isn't "WarmWeatherWoman" for nothing! lol
Thanks Chanell!!
 
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LOL, you're welcome! They supposedly hold up really well to moisture, I have a couple of hanging baskets lined with coconut fiber. The water runs right through the material so you have to be careful about your soil choices; I think I used a mixture of potting soil and compost. I've seen pictures of orchids growing in the shells though and some people have mentioned having success with them.
 

zigs

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The composting process is bacterial, which is fine for sappy stuff, but Coconuts, Peanut shells & so on are woody, mostly lignins, which require a fungal decomposition process or burning.
 
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Thanks zigs, that explains a lot. Makes sense. :)

warmweatherwoman, please post pictures of your coconut planters when they're done! I wonder if it will make your space look like Gilligan's Island...
 
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I have an outlet for shredded coconut meat. Can I use in compost or is it too oily?
 
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Coconuts can make a fine long term mulch, and do break-down slowly over time. Cutting them up a bit first also speeds up the decomposition process.
 

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