composting tomato plants

cary_organicJuly 24, 2008

I was told not to compost my old dead plants or plow them into the ground as nothing else will grow there,any truth in that,or is that an old wives tale.

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Only if you use salt in your compost. :)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:22AM
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Well there are strong arguments on both sides of this.
Tomato plants can harbor diseases that may wipe out entire crops the next season. Even if you are rotating crops. If you do there is a chance of spreading disease far and wide.

But on the other side of the token, a good compost pile is priceless. Whatever you decide, be sure you do some checking on what makes a good compost pile and how to create one properly because a bad compust pile is pointless. Compost piles need to be layered properly and kept moist, and occasoinly turned so every thing decomposes properly. When every thing is done right the core of the pile should get around 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:42AM
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Can you compost healthy tomato plants at the end of the season, or is that still risky?

And what about potato plants? I've heard that you shouldn't compost potato plants either when they die off at the end of the season, or let them decompose in place. True?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 4:01AM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes are affected by the same diseases. You cannot guarantee that the high temps in a proper compost pile will kill the pathogens, nor can you guarantee that all of your material will reach the effective temperature when the compost is turned. Its a game of russian roulette. Burning the plants and putting the ashes in the garden or compost will kill everything and recover the phosphorus and potassium.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 8:41AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Depends on the disease in question.

As mentioned above, there are strong beliefs on both sides of the issue and it is often discussed/debated over on the Soil & Compost forum so you might want to browse some of the discussions there.

Personally, I have always composted everything taken from the garden at season's end and never had a problem. But I have never had any of the tomato viral diseases - that I wouldn't compost.

I'm convinced that the composting process, given enough time, eliminates any concerns about any bacterial and/or fungal problems with the debris. All that composted debris goes right back into the gardens in the spring.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 10:00AM
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I'm pulling up my tomato plants now and wondered if they could be composted. Seems like quite a few gardeners do compost them so I wll give it a try. Have always sent them to the landfill but that seems to be such a waste

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 12:45PM
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I don't compost, but I do shred the remnants of the plants
and dig them deep into the ground. The grass clipping
mulch joins them along with a lot of coffee grounds (including the paper filters).

I do this in the fall, and by spring nothing is recognizable.
Just nice, black dirt.

Never had any disease problems so far. And bountiful,
great tasting tomatoes.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:18AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I don't know about virus, but most tomato diseases are air borne, like E.Blight, L.Blight, Mildew. So composting should not be a problem.
But how about virus ?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 3:27AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I'm currently building a new raised bed, so healthy or even diseased plants will be put on the bottom under cardboard. So I have no worries about any fungal spores splashing up onto next years plants. And a couple years down the road, the plants can take advantage of the compost. I also add coffee and filters, and various other waste plant material, leaves, shells, rinds, sticks etc. Leaves are always shredded, although that matters little 12 inches down at bottom of raised bed. I have 5 raised beds I did this too, and it's working really well My 6th bed is for beans, at least next year. I guess the technique I use is very similar to lasagna gardening techniques.

In the furure I will bury waste deep in beds as mentioned by others in this thread. Keeping soil rich is a constant effort. Currently I need to wait till beds compost what's there now, it will take a bit.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:06AM
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