Peeled shrimp are among the most common types of seafood humans consume – they are high in protein, iodine, and other nutrients. Shrimp shells are rarely left on when serving a meal with shellfish, and crustacean shells, in general, are often discarded as food waste. Although seafood shells are used in the kitchen to make into a broth, can you compost shrimp shells for use in the garden as fertilizer?
The composting process involves combining organic materials and allowing them to decompose naturally. These materials, categorized as either brown or green, deteriorate over time thanks to bacteria in compost, which aid in decomposition.
Cooked shrimp shells contain protein, minerals, and chitin, a primary component of crab shells, prawn shells, oyster shells, and sea shells. The nutrients found in shrimp peelings make the smaller pieces of shrimp excellent to include in the compost pile, including raw shrimp heads and tails.
Composting Shrimp Shells for Plant Health
Can shrimp shells be composted? Shrimp scraps are ideal for use in compost; however, there are drawbacks to using fish and other seafood as organic matter for compost. In gardening, shrimp shells add calcium and protein to garden soil while improving nitrogen levels.
Can You Compost Shrimp Shells?
Although shrimp has some nutritional value and their shells contain nutrients for plants, are shrimp shells good for compost? When it comes to organic waste for composting, shrimp shells are a green material, one that is rich in nitrogen.
Other green materials are egg shells, coffee grounds, and nut shells. Put corn cobs in the bin and other types of green and brown material. They break down quickly in a compost pile and quickly add nitrogen.
Adding carbon provides an energy source for the microorganism living in compost. To balance this increase in nitrogen, add carbon-based, or brown, material to the compost. Shredded paper, dry leaves, and twigs are all common and easily obtainable examples of brown material for composting.
The main issue to consider when you put shrimp shells in compost is the fear of attracting pests from the odor these food scraps create. Besides shrimp shells, popular animal-based material includes fish bones, meat scraps, grease, and animal fat.
Using animal-based materials causes your seafood compost to develop a foul smell that attracts flies around the compost bin. Unwanted visitors drawn to your compost include mice, raccoons, flies, and various types of birds.
Learn easy and effective ways to compost your lemon rinds from dinner without drawing in rodents and other pests. Avoid attracting creatures to your compost pile by including shrimp shells in moderation and other compost material like yard waste to maintain a balance as your pile decomposes.
How to Compost Shrimp Shells
To start composting shrimp shells without resulting in a smelly mess, prep your shrimp scraps before including them in the compost bin. Another way to avoid pests is to only use shrimp shells in covered bins or an elevated bin to prevent rodents from getting to it.
Bring a sauce pot of water to boil and include your shells, allowing them to boil for 20 minutes to clean the shrimp shells. Boiling the shells removes oils or seasonings from the cooking process and any remaining meat, all of which contribute to odor.
Line the shells on a baking sheet and put them in the oven on low heat. As the shells dry, they become brittle. Crush them in a mortar or by hand to create smaller pieces.
To start adding shrimp shells to your compost, divide your shells into even piles to avoid adding too much at once. Create a hole in the middle of your compost pile where the compost is warmest. Add the shells to the hole and cover this area with other compost material like leaves to balance the pile’s nutrients.
Incorporating Shells Into Soil
If you don’t want to create a compost pile, or you can’t make backyard compost in your area, it’s possible to add shells into your garden directly. Soil incorporation allows you to reap the same nutrient benefits from shrimp shells without the risk of attracting pests.
To add shrimp to your garden, clean your shells and any other food scraps you want to include. Chop the kitchen scraps into small pieces to make them decompose faster. Dig a hole at least 12 inches deep in the garden while not disturbing nearby plant roots.
Add the scraps to the hole and cover with soil so that there are at least eight inches of garden soil covering the scraps. Covering the leftovers is essential to keep wild animals from discovering them in the garden.
Besides adding nitrogen and calcium to your garden soil, shrimp shells protect against nematodes. Long-term damage from nematode activity leads to plants dying. The chitin in shrimp shells provides food for the microorganism in soil that kills nematodes.
With the proper preparation, learning how to compost shrimp shells is a rewarding hobby that benefits your garden. Based on the activity of the microorganisms in the soil, the breakdown of shrimp shells happens in a few months and benefits your soil through multiple growing seasons.
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