Posted on 22 September 2008 by

Can I Compost My Tomato Plants?

By Kira Hamman


But if you’re going to use your compost in the garden:

1. It’s best not to compost diseased plants because disease can spread through the soil. Instead, dispose of them in the garbage, burn them, or start a separate compost pile (far from the garden) that you’re not going to use.

2. You can compost buggy plants, but you’ll need to “hot compost” them. Hot compost piles reach an internal temperature of about 140°F, hot enough to kill bugs, larvae, and eggs that might otherwise plague next year’s crop. Excellent hot compost instructions are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

3. Expect volunteer plants, both in the compost pile itself and in the beds in which you use the compost. Unless you’ve hot composted very effectively, some seeds will survive the process and germinate in the spring. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing — I’ve gotten some of my most productive plants this way, albeit in some strange locations!

Generally speaking, composting garden waste is an easy way to get a top-quality soil amendment for free. So go for it!

3 Responses to “Can I Compost My Tomato Plants?”

  1. our friend Ben Says:

    Exactly, Kira! Go compost go! And some of my most entertaining (and productive) tomato “experiments” have come from my compost pile: a mystery tomato plant secreted among the raspberries; the end-all and be-all of cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes emerging from one of the compost bins. it all adds to the fun!

  2. deb Says:

    We compost ours every year. Luckily we have not had any disease problems.

  3. cellery Says:

    I burn the dried vines by tossing the metal cages on the fire. No disease worries, and no loss of potassium or phosporus.

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