How to Compost Jicama Leaves & Seeds


Jicama poses special challenges for homeowners and gardeners who want to produce their own compost. Known by a variety of names, including Mexican potato, yam bean and Mexican turnip, jicama is a root vegetable native to Central American and Mexico that is occasionally grown in warm western states, such as California and Arizona. Although people consume the potato-like root portion of the plant, the seed pods that grow on the lengthy vines contain rotenone, a mild insecticide that may be toxic to humans, according to Marian Van Atta, author of "Exotic Foods: A Kitchen and Garden Guide." Follow basic hot composting procedures to destroy the seeds and avoid rotenone in your mature compost.

Step 1

Peel back any grass or turf covering the ground at your composting site. Choose an area with well-draining soil that receives at least three hours of daily sun. Expose a 4-by-4 foot section of plain topsoil to allow the microbes in the dirt to have direct access to your compost waste, which promotes faster decomposition.

Step 2

Separate jicama plant waste and other organic scraps into two piles at your composting site. Arrange fresh, green, nitrogen-high organic waste (such as cow manure, fresh grass clippings, jicama leaves, fruit waste and vegetable peels) into one heap and place dry, brown, carbon-rich organic waste (such as dead tree leaves, dead jicama leaves or dried seed pods, straw and sawdust) into a second heap.

Step 3

Slice and chop large pieces of waste into smaller sections that measure less than 2 ½ inches in diameter. Wear gardening gloves to protect your skin from abrasions and cuts as you work. Don't worry if the jicama plant comes in contact with your skin as the toxic effects generally occur only if you ingest the plant.

Step 4

Sprinkle a 4-to-5 inch layer of carbon-rich organic waste across the surface of the bare soil, including any dry, brown pieces of jicama leaves or seed pods. Dampen the waste with a gentle spray of water from your garden hose to make it about as moist as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 5

Spread a 3-to-4 inch layer of the nitrogen-rich organic waste over the carbon-rich layer. Toss six to eight handfuls of plain topsoil over the nitrogen layer to introduce additional decomposing microorganisms to the organic waste. Continue alternating layers of dampened carbon waste and nitrogen waste until your compost heap measures 4 to 5 feet tall. Insert a compost thermometer straight into the top center of the compost heap.

Step 6

Monitor the temperature for one to two weeks. When it reaches 140 degrees F, mix the layers of compost together with a manure fork every one to two days to help the compost maintain the 140-degree temperature for approximately two weeks. Add extra nitrogen materials, such as cow manure or grass clippings, to boost the microbial activity if the temperature begins to drop.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep children and pets away from your compost area during the composting process to avoid accidental ingestion of the jicama plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Nitrogen-high organic waste (including green jicama waste)
  • Carbon-high organic waste (including dried jicama waste)
  • Trowel
  • Utility shears
  • Garden gloves
  • Garden hose
  • Plain topsoil
  • Compost thermometer


  • "Exotic Foods: A Kitchen and Garden Guide"; Marian Van Atta; 2002
  • University of California Small Farm Program: Jicama
  • "The Complete Compost Gardening Guide"; Barbara Pleasant & Deborah Martin; 2008
Keywords: jicama compost, composting jicama, hot composting

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.