Can You Compost Corn Cobs?

Corn on the cob on top of a wooden table

When you're throwing out your food waste, you may wonder what you can do with those leftover corn cobs that you ate around after your favorite food meal. Because so much cobbed corn is consumed daily, it is time to determine if corn cobs can be composted and how to best dispose of them when eliminating food waste for a good compost with a ratio recipe of compost materials. 

If you are looking for a list of other common kitchen and household items that can be composted, check out out detailed guide here.

Can you compost corn cobs?

Yellow corn on the cob

You absolutely can compost corn cobs, since they are biodegradable and keep them out the landfill. When you add the corn cobs to your compost, the nutrients that are locked in the cob will release over time and provide a delayed supply of nutrients for your soil.

Since the cobs are hard, they provide a different texture and structure to your compost pile when it is breaking down. This can shift the decomposition process and moisture content.

For many plants, this is essential because it gives the compost something to bind while it is decomposing in the compost bin.

Also, it helps with distributing the appropriate greenhouse gases that your compost needs so that it is balanced when it is time to add it to your garden. 



Can you compost corn husks?

Hanged corn cobs and husks

If you are wondering can corn husks be composted also, they sure can. Their breakdown time compared to the corn cobs is much different, but that is because of the husks texture. Husks are not as thick as the corn cob, but husks do tend to become dried plant parts.

When you are composting corn husks, you want to add one layer of husks at a time to the bin so that they all do not bunch up in the compost pile. They will capture more moisture this way and then start the composting process at a much faster rate in recognizable pieces. 

Can cooked corn cobs be composted?

Cooked corn with cilantro in a white plate

Just like dried corn cobs, composting corn cobs that have been cooked is a great question, and it can be done. In fact, these are often easier for composting because they are retaining moisture from being cooked.

In many cases, most try to just throw these right in the compost heap, especially if they are small cobs no more than four inches. They will often decompose quickly than dried corn cobs serve, and eliminate unwanted food waste in landfill pile and trash cans. 

How to compost corn cobs

Corn cob on the ground, leftovers for gleaning in harvested cultivated field

While you are composting corn cobs, you want to make sure you add them in a certain way so that your plants get the most benefits and nutrients from these shucked parts.

Below are a few steps to take to make sure that you are getting the most out of your corn cobs. 

  1. Cut up your corn cobs into smaller pieces. They are easier to break down if they are smaller, and they will start to release the nutrients inside the soil sooner. If you are trying to get them to decompose very quickly, you will want to cut them into even smaller pieces.  
  2. Do not dry out the corn cobs you have cooked. You want them to retain that moisture when you add them while they are still moist. If they dry out, then it will take longer for them to start the degrading process and longer to compost. 
  3. If you have dried cobs, you might want to run them under some water and give them a bit of moisture before throwing them in the compost. 
  4. Once they have been added to the compost, you need to turn your compost daily to make sure that it is moving around breaking up evenly in the soil. The compost will generate lots of heat when you continue to turn it, and it will force the bacteria that is breaking down the compost to generate at a faster rate. 

If you have decided to cut up your corn cobs, make sure that you are careful when cutting. They are really hard to cut through and can cause a knife to slide when wet.

If you want it to compost through a natural process, then you can throw them in the compost bins at their current size, but expect the breakdown time to be much longer.

The cobs left can be added to new compost over time made with grass clippings and wood chips. This generates a useable compost where you can add corn kernels, coffee grounds, and other compost materials that generate air pockets in the soil.



How to use corn cob compost

Peeled corns on the ground

Once you have used created corn cob compost, you can redistribute this compost to your plants and vegetables garden. The structure caused by the corn cobs in the compost piles allows the soil to aerate naturally, making it rich in nutrients and allowing air pockets to circulate in your garden.

If you do decide to keep your corn cobs at their regular size, you want to make sure that you are mixing the compost regularly and keeping them spread out in the mix. Too many cobs in one area could delay the breakdown of the organic matter. 

Once the compost corn husks and corn cob compost have broken down completely, they can be added to the soil in your garden so that they balance the soil level in your garden with organic materials.

If your cobs have not broken down to the consistency that you prefer, just throw them back in the bin and they will continue the composting with another batch. 

How long does it take for corn cobs to decompose in compost pile?

Top view of yellow corns on a brown basket

When asking about compost corn plants, or can corn husks be composted, you may wonder how long does it take until these corn parts are completely broken down. The answer depends on how dry they were when they were added to the compost pile and their size.

Without any cuts, corn cob can break down up to six months while mixed in compost. This is also being turned several times a week and balanced in the compost. For those that have been freshly cut up and put into the compost wet, it can take about half that time at 3-4 months. The corn cob takes longer than the husk. especially in an open compost pile.

If you are using a Lomi compost bin, however, you may find it break down in just a matter of weeks. Before you add the corn to cobs to Lomi compost bin, this is what they look like.

Before photo of corn to cobs to Lomi compost bin

Just a few weeks of adding it in the compost pile and it constantly being turned, it breaks down significantly. 

Corn cobs compost dirt after using Lomi

This allows you to maintain the food waste you have in your kitchen and keep it out of the landfill. Lomi sits easily on your counter so that you can just add the food waste as you need to the pile and initiate the decomposition process at a much faster rate with a reduced foul odor. 


Lomi by Pela



Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.


Final Thoughts

If you consume a lot of fresh corn and want to find a more efficient way to deal with the unwanted corn compost, composting corn cobs can be done easily, as they are valuable to your compost and give it another layer of texture and nutrients. 

Finished compost with the help of Lomi well give a manageable compost pile with nitrogen materials and organic matter that you can simply toss in the pile.