The versatility of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) does not end in the kitchen. Instead of tossing the potato peels in the trash, put them to use in your garden. Some of the nutrients in the potato that support healthy, strong plant growth include nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. But you need to compost the potato peels before you use them in your garden.
Fresh Potato Peels as Fertilizer
Adding fresh potato peels to the garden does more harm than good. When starches and other parts of the potato start breaking down, they will produce foul odors and attract pests. They can also encourage plant diseases. It is not a wise choice to bury them either, unless your garden needs a few new potato plants. Chances are that the potato peels will sprout from the eyes in the peels.
Making Potato Peels into Useable Fertilizer
When composted, potato peels make a rich fertilizer that boosts soil fertility and water retention. But potato peels are not the only materials that should be composted. For compost to turn out right, it needs four components: air, water, greens and browns. For the air and water, you need to keep the compost consistently moist, and turn it every few weeks.
Browns and Greens
It is best to include approximately half "browns" and half "greens" in the compost bin. Potato peels serve as greens in a compost pile because they are vegetable scraps. Greens that can be composted include vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and green leaves. The browns include materials like paper, sawdust, dead leaves and dried twigs.
Applying the Fertilizer
On average, compost can be used as a fertilizer after about three months of turning and watering. Any type of soil or plant will benefit from compost. When the compost is dark brown and crumbly, it is ready for use. At this time, there should not be any recognizable bits of potato skin or any other materials in the compost, and it should have an earthy aroma. Applying the compost as fertilizer is simple as spreading an even 2- to 4-inch layer of the compost over the soil and mixing it thoroughly into the top 6 inches of soil.
Beth Porter has been a writer since 2008, with strong experience in early childhood education, gardening, home living and crafts. Porter is presently attending college, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education at the University of Cincinnati.