Can you Compost Avocados?
Avocados have gained much attention over the past few decades. Americans consumed 3 billion pounds of this super healthy fruit in 2021! Yes, fruit! Avocados are actually a stone fruit. Unlike other fruits that are carbohydrate rich, avocados are loaded with healthy fats.
So, what do you do with those spent avocado shells and pits? One option is that you could toss them in the trash! Not the most environmentally responsible option! Best option…you could compost them. Now that is more like it! How much can you compost? What about those hard pits? How long does it take to decompose? Is it safe to use in a worm bin? We get it, what you can and cannot compost can get a bit confusing, but it doesn’t have to be!
Can you Compost Avocado Shells?
Yes, avocado shells can be composted! The avocado skins are considered to be ‘brown matter’, and are perfect to help maintain balance in a compost bin. If you love avocados as much as my family does, then you will find yourself with quite a few of these tough little shells. The reality is that they are not tender and quick to compost like other fruit skins, but they can be composted quicker with a bit of know-how.
If you have been adding avocado skins to your compost bin, then you may have noticed that they are quite a bit slower to break down then your other kitchen scraps. No worries. Go ahead and pick them out, and give them a hand by cutting them up into smaller pieces with a pair of kitchen scissors. Remember, the size of your kitchen scraps is one of the factors that dictates how fast your pile breaks down. Next, mix them in with your decomposing matter and make sure that these fibrous little pieces are deeper in the compost pile where there is more heat and more microbial activity. A little bit of help will go a long way. The same goes for your fresh avocado skins. Chop them into one inch by one inch pieces before they get too tough, and then toss them in with your other kitchen scraps. Brown matter provides carbon to the compost bin and thus provides energy for the hardworking microbes. Plus, brown matter helps prevent your bin from becoming a stinky, slimy pile of rotting matter. Nobody wants that in their house or backyard!
How much is too much? If you have a large quantity, it would be wise to chop it up before adding them to your composting system. Since the skins are considered to be ‘brown matter’, it is smart to stick to the 4:1 ratio for brown to green matter. Green matter is wet, fresh, green and provides nitrogen to your compost pile. If you are using a small space composter, vermicomposter or Bokashi compost bin, you may want to limit it to about 10% of your total waste going in. It will slow down the process and not fully decompose at the rate of your other kitchen scraps because it is ‘brown matter’. It isn’t worth compromising the composting process and having to pick it out of your finished compost.
Can you Compost Avocado Meat?
Yes, you can compost avocado meat. This is the fatty portion of an avocado, the part that we obviously enjoy the most. It is composed of around 73% water, 15% fat, 8.5% carbohydrates, fiber, and about 2% protein, and is totally acceptable to toss into your compost bin, no matter what system you are using. The avocado meat is considered to be ‘green matter’ and it is an essential part of any composting system. Simply toss it in with your other kitchen scraps and it will decompose quite rapidly depending on the heat, size and microbial activity in your pile.
Can you Compost Avocado Pits?
This is a tricky one! Yes, you definitely can, but they are hard and slow to decompose if left whole. So, chopping them up into smaller pieces would be super smart. Remember, the smaller the pieces in your compost pile, the quicker things will break down.
There are two ways you can do this…chop them up by hand with a large kitchen knife or blend them up with water. Once again, avocado pits are considered to be brown matter and are essential to keeping a healthy balanced compost pile thriving.
Can You Compost Rotten Avocados?
An avocado in all of its forms can be composted, even a rotten avocado! It happens. You discovered an overripe mushy avocado that you missed, and it is too far gone to save it, now what? All good, it can be composted and come back as compost for your garden. Rotten or not, it is organic matter that will add to the pile, and since it is already rotten, it has a head start on the process! Microbes are already hard at work breaking it down and by adding it to the compost pile, you are adding in more microbial activity.
Only thing, chop it up first! Otherwise, you will find a whole avocado, a hard shell and a pit when your compost is well aged and ready to use. If this is the case, you can pick it out and chop it up, and toss it back into your compost bin.
How to Compost Avocados
While composting the tougher parts of an avocado like the skins and pits can seem a bit complicated, it can be done successfully with a few simple steps!
-Blend up avocado pits in the blender with enough water to make a liquid. Yes, this will totally break up that tough, hard structure and make it easier for it to break down. Plus, you can pour the whole thing into your outdoor system, or if needed, save it and slowly add it to your vermicomposting system to add a bit of moisture if needed.
-Don’t have a blender? Then get ready to chop, chop, chop! The smaller the pieces, the easier it is to break down. You want to mince it up as much as you can. Be careful! Avocado pits are slippery and round, making them a bit challenging to chop up. If you can cut it in half to start, and lay the flat side down on your cutting board, it will be easier and safer to cut into smaller pieces. The hardness of the pit is why it takes so long to decompose. By chopping up avocado pits before adding them to your compost system, you are taking a bit of the workload off of the beneficial microorganisms and heat that would normally be doing all of the work.
-Chop up the skins with a large knife or simply cut into one inch by one inch pieces with a pair of kitchen scissors. This is easier done when the avocado is fresh. Don’t wait a few days or the once soft shell becomes more like a little wooden bowl. After scooping out the avocado meat and chopping up the pit, cut up your avocado shell and toss it in with your other kitchen scraps. The smaller the pieces the better!
How Long Does It Take For Avocado To Decompose In A Compost Pile?
This all depends on a few factors…what form your avocado was in and did you chop it up or simply toss it all in whole, what kind of system are you using, what temperature is it at, what ratio of brown to green matter is in your system, how often do you turn your compost, and where is it, indoors or outdoors?
Typically, compost can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 1 year to be ready to use. If you use your compost system correctly, add well chopped kitchen scraps and a healthy 4:1 balance of brown matter to green matter, and tend to it regularly, you will notice that it takes significantly less time to reap the benefits of beautiful aged organic compost.
How To Use Avocado Compost
Once your compost is ready to use, there should be zero signs of any avocado pits that went into making this nutrient dense goodness. Fully composted matter should have a sweet earthy smell, and be dark and crumbly to the touch. If it is wet, sticky, soupy, stinky and hot, your compost needs more time and more brown matter. If you see remnants of avocado pits and skins, you can remove them. If you added a whole avocado to the pile, you may find it looking shriveled up and kind of whole, a good sign that you should’ve chopped it up. No worries, just pick it out, chop it up and place it back in your working compost bin.
Finished compost can be added to almost any plant. Incorporating it into your garden before the planting season is always a good idea and it is a great way to grow an amazing organic garden. You can also add a handful of compost into planting holes, top off plants with a handful, mix it into potting soil for your houseplants, and even make a compost tea! As long as it is fully finished, it is super safe to use in almost any application!
What Else Can You Do With Avocado Seeds?
You may be surprised to hear that avocado pits are also an edible part of an avocado! The pit is packed with antioxidants, like polyphenols, that we normally find in green tea. No need to toss it away, simply quarter the pit and add a small piece to your smoothie. If your avocado is fresh, the pit will be a bit softer and easier to blend.
Have You Grown Your Own Avocado Tree From A Pit?
Yes, it is totally possible, indoors and outdoors, depending where you live.
Another great option for those spent avocado pits is to plant them! Yes, you can grow your own avocado tree from a juicy fresh seed. Disclaimer…while it is easy to grow a tree from a pit, it could take your baby avocado tree 8-20 years to produce fruit. Commercial growers graft trees to reap the benefits of particular varieties, thus producing fruit in 2-3 years. On the upside, an avocado tree can be a beautiful addition to your patio or even indoor living space.
So, if you are down to wait it out or simply grow something unique to add to your plant collection, we suggest…
- Do not cut your pit with a knife. You will need to gently remove the pit from the flesh by nudging it out with a spoon.
- Clean your seed with warm water and remove any fruit bits.
- Germinate your avocado seed by wrapping it up in a wet, but not dripping wet, paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Place your avocado seed in a dark warm place to initiate germination.
- Check on your seed every 4 days and dampen the paper towel as needed.
- Keep an eye out for the moment when your pit cracks open. You may notice a small shoot emerging. Do not bother it or further crack open the pit. Let nature take its course and watch the magic happen.
- Once your avocado root is about 3 inches long, your pit is ready to be planted.
- Grab an 8” pot with drain holes, and fill with a well draining organic potting soil that has been well enhanced with organic matter to give your baby avocado the best start. We love adding 1 tablespoon of Organic Plant Magic Soluble Plant Food powder to our potting soil. Mix well and only fill your pot half way. Set aside the other half of the soil for later.
- Time to figure out which end of your avocado seed is the bottom and which is the top. Look for a small brown patch on the broader flatter end of the seed, this will be the bottom, and the top may be slightly pointy.
- Place your sprouted pit into the potting soil with the bottom end resting in the soil and topside facing up. Be careful to not break the tender root. Gently press it into the soil. Cover with the remaining potting soil.
- Water well, but do not soak. Moist is perfect.
- Place in a sunny draft free spot, avoiding direct sunlight.
While your little avocado tree may take awhile to grow up, it is still an amazing experience to watch it grow and tend to it. Do not be surprised if it drops its leaves with changes in heat, light and humidity. Keep it well fed by giving it a dose of Organic Plant Magic Plant Food monthly. Repot it as needed, only moving up a few pot sizes at a time, and if you are lucky enough to live in a zone where you can plant it outside, go ahead and get your new avocado tree in the ground as soon as it is about 2-3 years old.
Well, that is the lowdown on composting avocados!
Want to know 10 more things you can compost that may surprise you? Check out our post... 11 Things In The Kitchen You Didn't Know You Could Compost
With a bit of know-how, some patience and time, you can easily compost every bit of your avocados and avoid tossing one more thing into the trash. There is no better way to feed your plants and garden, than to make your own compost! We are all about finding ways to grow amazing things and do no harm, and being a good steward to our planet is always in style. Happy composting!