Can You Compost Potatoes: A Detailed Exploration

  • By: Sam Richards
  • Date: July 17, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.

In the realm of organic gardening and sustainable living, composting holds a place of honor. It’s a practice that transforms kitchen scraps and garden waste into a nutrient-rich soil supplement, better known as black gold among gardeners. Composting is a win-win process, nourishing your garden while reducing the amount of household waste that otherwise ends up in the landfill.

Despite its numerous benefits, composting often brings up questions, especially when it comes to composting certain types of kitchen waste. One such query often revolves around potatoes. Can you compost potatoes? Are there specific considerations or precautions one should be aware of?

The simple answer is yes, you can compost potatoes. However, like many things in life, it’s not entirely that simple. Composting potatoes has its unique set of nuances and challenges. From issues related to potato blight, to the fear of sprouting new potato plants in the compost bin, there are legitimate concerns that need addressing.

This comprehensive guide aims to unravel the complexities associated with composting potatoes. It will explore the potato blight problem, the pros and cons of adding potatoes to the compost, the right techniques to employ, and clarify common myths and misconceptions. Case studies and answers to frequently asked questions will provide practical insights into the potato composting process. Whether you’re a novice composter or an experienced one, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to compost your potato waste effectively.

The Potato Blight Problem

One of the primary concerns when composting potatoes revolves around a disease known as potato blight, scientifically termed Phytophthora infestans. This disease is notorious within the gardening community for its devastating effects on potato crops.

Potato blight is caused by a fungus-like organism that thrives in damp, cool conditions. The spores of this pathogen latch onto potatoes and can wreak havoc on an entire crop. When an infected potato breaks down, it releases these spores, which can linger in the soil or compost pile, waiting for the right conditions to propagate.

The chief concern in composting potatoes infected with blight is the potential to unintentionally carry over this disease into the next gardening season. If compost made from blighted potatoes is used in the garden, there’s a tangible risk of the blight spores infecting healthy plants. This is why many gardeners are wary about adding potatoes to their compost heaps.

Despite the concerns surrounding potato blight, it’s crucial to note that composting potatoes is not an outright no-no. It’s more a matter of understanding the risks involved and taking appropriate steps to manage them. After all, composting is a complex biological process, and when done right, it has the potential to neutralize many plant diseases.

Pros and Cons of Composting Potatoes

The practice of composting potatoes, much like any other composting activity, has its distinct advantages and potential downsides. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision and effectively manage your compost pile.


  1. Nutrient Contribution: Potatoes are rich in starch, which is essentially a storehouse of energy. When composted, this energy source breaks down into sugars, providing an essential food source for beneficial microorganisms in the compost pile. These microorganisms help expedite the composting process and improve the nutrient content of the finished compost. This nutrient-rich compost, in turn, can greatly benefit the soil structure and health of plants in your garden.
  2. Waste Reduction: By composting potatoes, you’re essentially diverting organic waste away from the landfill. This not only helps reduce your household’s environmental footprint but also supports the sustainability goal of a circular economy where waste is used as a resource.


  1. Sprouting: One common issue when composting potatoes is the possibility of them sprouting within the compost pile. If the conditions are right, whole potatoes or large pieces can sprout and grow into new plants, which can turn your compost heap into a mini potato farm, potentially hindering the composting process.
  2. Potato Blight: The disease known as potato blight, if present in the potatoes being composted, can persist in the compost and pose a risk to your garden. Composting potatoes infected with this disease can potentially lead to the blight’s transmission to other plants when the compost is used.

Understanding these pros and cons can equip you with the knowledge to better manage your composting activities and ensure that you achieve the desirable black gold while mitigating potential issues.

Proper Techniques for Composting Potatoes

To minimize the potential issues related to composting potatoes, you should:

  1. Cut Them Up: Chopping potatoes into smaller pieces can accelerate the composting process and reduce the chance of sprouting.
  2. Bury Deep: Ensure potatoes are buried deep in your compost pile, which should also help prevent sprouting.
  3. Hot Composting: Try to maintain a hot composting process, which can kill off the spores of potato blight and other diseases.

Addressing Common Myths and Misconceptions

VI. Addressing Common Myths and Misconceptions

With the subject of composting potatoes, several myths and misconceptions abound that can create unnecessary apprehension or confusion. Let’s debunk some of these myths to provide a clearer picture:

Myth: All sprouting potatoes in compost are problematic: This is not always true. While it’s possible for potatoes to sprout in your compost heap, not all sprouts will develop into full-fledged plants. Many sprouts will simply decompose along with the other composting materials in a well-managed compost pile. However, if a sprout does manage to grow into a plant, it can be easily removed and managed.

Myth: Potatoes take forever to compost: Potatoes do indeed take longer to decompose compared to some other kitchen scraps like fruit peels or coffee grounds. This is due to their solid structure and high starch content. However, the idea that they take ‘forever’ is an exaggeration. In a well-maintained compost pile, potatoes can decompose within a few months. Additionally, chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces before composting can significantly speed up the decomposition process.

Myth: Composting potatoes will spread diseases in the garden: This is a partial truth. While potato blight can potentially be spread through composting, it’s important to note that a hot, well-managed compost pile can effectively neutralize many diseases, including potato blight. Furthermore, healthy garden practices, such as crop rotation and maintaining a diverse garden, can also help to mitigate the risks associated with disease spread.

Understanding and addressing these myths and misconceptions can equip you with accurate information, empowering you to make informed decisions and effectively manage your composting process.

Case Studies

Many gardeners successfully compost potatoes without encountering problems. In industrial settings, some companies have implemented potato composting programs, using potato waste from their production processes. Lessons learned from these instances emphasize the importance of proper composting techniques to avoid issues such as sprouting or disease spread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you compost cooked potatoes?

Yes, cooked potatoes can be composted. However, avoid composting potatoes with oils or fats as they can attract pests.

Can you compost potato peels?

Absolutely, potato peels can be composted and will break down quicker than whole potatoes.

How long does it take for potatoes to compost?

This depends on various factors including the composting method, the size of potato pieces, and composting conditions, but typically it may take a few months.

Are there any risks to composting potatoes?

The main risks are sprouting and the potential for spreading potato blight, but both can be managed with proper composting techniques.

Is potato a brown or green material in composting?

Potatoes are considered a green material in composting due to their high nitrogen content. Even though they are physically brown, in composting terms, “green” and “brown” refer to the nitrogen and carbon content of materials, respectively, not their actual colors.


Composting, as an integral part of sustainable gardening, can at times seem like a puzzle with its varying dos and don’ts. Composting potatoes is one such complex piece. While the simple answer is yes, potatoes can be composted, understanding the nuances involved will ensure a successful composting experience.

As explored throughout this article, composting potatoes brings a wealth of benefits. By adding potatoes to your compost pile, you’re not only enriching the compost with valuable nutrients but also contributing to an important waste reduction effort. This, however, is not without challenges, namely sprouting and the potential risk of spreading potato blight. With the correct composting techniques and some attentive compost management, these potential issues can be effectively handled.

The myths and misconceptions around composting potatoes, while persistent, should not deter the enthusiastic composter. With informed knowledge and by addressing these misconceptions, you can harness the benefits of composting potatoes without the often-feared drawbacks.

Real-life experiences from both home gardeners and industrial composting programs further underscore the fact that composting potatoes can be accomplished effectively. Practical insights drawn from these experiences can serve as a guide to navigating the composting journey.

Whether you’re a composting novice about to start your first compost pile, or a seasoned composter looking to improve your composting practices, this comprehensive guide should equip you with the necessary knowledge and confidence to compost potatoes effectively. The journey to transform potato scraps into a nutrient-rich supplement for your garden is indeed worth the effort, benefiting your plants, your household, and ultimately, the environment as a whole. So, don’t let those potato peels go to waste – let them be the gold for your garden!

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