Composting tomatoes - bad?

samanthab(z5 MA)June 14, 2010


Recently my aunt told me that it is bad to compost tomatoes. She didn't give me a reason but she said I shouldn't do it because she has never done it. it bad to compost tomatoes?

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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

I do but will warn you that you will have baby tomato plants everywhere you spread that compost. Also if you don't hot compost and you throw plants that have blight and spread that in your garden that you plan on doing tomatoes I hear you will be spreading that blight.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 9:19AM
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Until this year, I just had one of those black plastic cold composters. I do get baby tomato plants everywhere - no big deal, I just yank them. I also get volunteer squash. This year, I have some curbit family plants that I can't quite yet decide 100% what they are. I'm leaving them until I figure it out, simply because it amuses me. Again, no big deal.

Because I was doing cold composting, I never composted anything remotely diseased. I still don't think I'll do it, just in case. It's not worth it to use the greens, and then struggle with blight or whatever other diseases!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 10:05AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day samantha,

might depend if you mean the plant or the fruit? unless the plant had a serious health issue when it was pulled then composting them is ok. the fruit of course well for us here where we get tropical fruit fly is another story during the growing season any damaged fruit or parts of fruit are frozen then put into the garbage bin on colletion day wrapped up in a suitable plastic bag. this to ensure we don't make our fruit fly problem any worse than what it already is.

so if you have no problems with fruit being atacked as above then compost it, transplant some of the volunteers out that may appear you never know what you might get. for us volunteers are a good way of getting crops without having to actually buy seedling or seed.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 2:36PM
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jollyrd(Richmond VA)

I think the fruit/seeds are problem. I had lots of end root rot last year, so I would just put them in compost. Also, I put kitchen scraps in compost and there is a lot of tomatoes. This year I have baby tomatoes everywhere, one even became a big plant in the compost pile itself, and I know my pile was 140F last year.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 2:53PM
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Agreed. I hot compost and I had tomato plants out the wazoo this spring. everywhere I put the compost they were coming up thick. I bet I pulled over 100 tomato plants from just one 5'x16' bed. On the positive side my PL pink brandywine seedlings were a dud this year. Since it was my only PL tomotoe last year I had literally dozens of plants to choose from. :) Anyway from now on all my tomato scraps go over the fence into my neighbors yard. She has a few free range chickens back there that just love tomato's.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 3:08PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Sincere question. Do you guys get good composting of tomato STEMS? I haven't even tried to compost tomato foliage or stems and pepper stems because I used to dig them up two years later hardly broken down. While I am at it, hardy pamapas grass canes don't work too well, either.
I have always understood that acidic foliages (tomatoes) limited or stifled micro-organisms ability to do their thing as most liked neutral to alkaline. Having said that, my oak leaves seem to go down pretty well. Confused. Somebody set me straight on this. Oh, and I get the billions of tomato volunteers when I rototill the garden because I let some tomatoes rot at the base of the cages when I should have reached in and cleanded the rotten, highly odoriferous things up.
TIA, hortster

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 9:49PM
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I compost tomatoes and tomato plants, with few if any problems. We have a slow pile, that is about 50% shredded maple tree leaves. I remove finished compost from the pit beneath the pile once a year, in the spring. That material will have been in the pile for about 18 months. Our pile is mostly browns, and I don't think it ever gets hot. Warm, maybe, but not hot. Over time, the pile seems to kill most seeds, and eliminate most plant pathogens.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 10:36PM
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I compost tomato and pepper stems. I just run them over with the lawn mower first.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 12:15AM
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There is nothing wrong with composting tomatoes or the spent tomato plants, except maybe tomato seedlings where you use that compost afterwards.
A soil that does not fairly quickly digest any organic matter placed in it probably does not have a good active Soil Food Web.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 7:26AM
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I do not compost tomatoes or tomato plants, but get many volunteers the next year anyway. They are welcome, and some are transplanted to fill space if a basement-grown seedling needs to be pulled (two this year, usually Early blight).

Tomato seeds are very hard to kill, and can go thru municiple sewage plants intact.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 4:28PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

In lieu of a shotgun, dynamite or flame thrower I just bend down and pluck the suckers. Sooner or later they quit for the season. Gives room for the dill to try again in the fall! ;-)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 7:57PM
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