The first time I snacked on edamame, aka green soybeans, I was quickly intrigued. Here was a snack that satisfied the salty cravings I sometimes get in the evenings without any of the high-calorie guilt. I was snacking and being healthy, and these little green pods were delicious.
After plowing through a massive bowl, I was left in umami heaven with a pile of cooked edamame shells. I thought there is no way a salt-filled snack like this can be good for you and completely compostable too. I knew right then, and there it was time to find out if edamame beans are good for compost.
Can I Put Edamame in My Compost?
You can put edamame in your compost, and it will break down in a normal decomposition cycle. How fast these beans break down and the nutrients and structure it provides to the soil will depend on how the edamame pods were prepared, as well as the size of the food waste.
What you can do with edamame shells to be sure you are providing the best ingredients to your compost is to sort the pods based on a few factors. Beans with salt need to be treated differently than raw edamame and cooked unsalted shells. Any uncooked pods that are diseased-looking should be trashed and not composted.
If you are eating edamame with salt, you can soak the shells for 30 mins to an hour and then rinse them to clean. Removing salts will protect the worms and microorganisms in your soil. Uncooked edamame will have a significant amount of green value to add to compost, as well as some carbon in the shell’s tough fibers. They can be used to balance a compost’s C:N ratio.
Cooked and desalted edamame beans will add carbon to the compost but mainly supplies nitrogen and can be added with leaves and other brown materials. There are several other benefits to composting edamame you don’t want to miss out on.
4 Benefits of Composting Edamame
- Nitrogen and Carbon – Edamame beans add both carbon and nitrogen to a compost pile. It breaks down easily and almost immediately adds vitality to your garden’s soil.
- Breaks Down Quickly for a Fiberous Plant – The plant material that edamame is made up of is durable and can provide ideal soil structure to promote microbial growth. As the beans break down, the nutrients are released evenly and easily absorbed by plant roots.
- Part of a Healthy Lifestyle – Getting a paper bag full of edamame beans that you can cook and salt yourself can start you on a healthy journey. The satisfaction of a healthy snack that can be completely composted is inspiring and can pave the way for more sustainable lifestyle changes.
- Reduce Waste At Land Fills – Tossing your snack into the compost is much better than filling the garbage heaps with plastic snack bags.
How Long Does It Take for an Edamame Shell to Decompose?
Edamame can be added to the compost or directly to the soil area around a plant. The time it takes to decompose may vary, but on average, it takes 2 to 3 months for the shells to break down into loamy, crumbly compost.
If you top-dress your garden beds with edamame, they may take as long as 6 months to decompose and add nutrients, moisture retention, and soil structure. Walking in your yard and tossing some rinsed shells under various plants is a good way to naturally dispose of the shells if composting isn’t an option.
If you don’t have months to wait for edamame pods to break down, there are a few steps you can take to speed up the process. If you need to get rid of a steady supply of shells, do this to reduce strain on your compost system.
4 Ways to Speed Up Composting
- Chop Up the Materials – Chopping, soaking, and rinsing the edamame shells before composting can speed up the process. The smaller pod sizes will break down faster, and the moisture will kick start decomposition once the heat rises.
- Add the Correct Ratio of Carbon and Nitrogen-Rich Materials – Toss green, raw edamame shells into the compost with leaves and brown materials. The balance of nitrogen and carbon is important to prevent bad odors during the first few days of decomposition.
- Turn the Compost Every Few Days – Mixing the beans in the compost thoroughly will ensure more surface area comes into contact with decay-catalyzing elements. As you mix the compost, you will encourage oxygenation to the pile and cause the temps to rise.
- Add More Worms, Microbes, and Mycelium – Worms can make short work of the fibrous husks of edamame. Having a healthy soil biome will result in much more rapid decomposition than compost not touching soil or depleted of microorganisms
What Composts Like Edamame?
Are there any other compostable materials that break down, like edamame shells? You can check the table below to find out what will make compost in around the same timeframe as this scrumptious snack.
|Time to Decompose
|Prepared LIke Edamame
|4 weeks to 2 months
|2 to 4 months
|1 to 2 months
|4 months to 2 years
- Green Beans – Green beans have similar nutrient components and will break down in a comparative amount of time. The fiber and husks of both beans require a longer time to decompose and can be aided by chopping and soaking.
- Squash – The harder exterior of the squash will mix well with edamame in compost and can be broken down in a similar amount of time. Both compostables need lots of brown materials to balance the C:N ratio.
- Banana Peels – You will see parts of the banana in your compost for a month or two. If chopped small, it can break down faster, but if left whole, it will take around as long as edamame to break down.
- Peanut Shells – Peanut shells can also have salt added and may need to be soaked and rinsed before they can be added to the compost. If smashed, they will break down in around the same timeframe as the edamame pods but if unbroken can take as long as 2 years.