Can You Compost Tomatoes?
Your good friend Planet Natural blogger has only considered composting tomatoes once a reader asks about the process. We’ve always composted tomatoes if it was at the end of the growing season; tomatoes had been in good health and had no evidence of blight, wilt, or insect pests. The problem is that when the season is over, especially in humid climates,, tomatoes can indicate these issues.
In addition, consider the fact that dry, stringy plants do not break down as quickly and are more likely to get caught together with the rest of the pile. The result is that I only get to compost tomatoes a few times.
It surprised me until I started digging into the subject of tomato composting and its controversy was. More than two gardening forums are host to discussions where people state that they will not compost tomato vines typically because of disease that could be transmitted and resisted by those who believe it’s wrong to take tomato vines to the trash rather than returning them in composted form back to the garden.
Some responders raised the question of recycling tomatoes into compost. Your compost pile can absorb the acid unless you’re composting tomatoes in crates. The only issue should it be a problem is your compost pile bursting with tomato plants when the temperatures warm up in spring.
We’ve never been mainly concerned about the tomato, potato, or cucumber plants sprouting out of our compost pile. We generally — except occasionally for the potato plants — put the young plants back in together with the decomposing material. Many of the tomatoes we see today are hybrids with different breeding patterns the second time around. They’re unlikely to yield fruit when growing from your compost, regardless of how well-nourished and watered they are.
Recycling the fruit could be dangerous. I wouldn’t want to throw tomatoes that display the signs of anthracnose, which are those dark, wet spots that appear on fruit and can extend up to a half-inch wide and even penetrate the flesh of the tomato. I would not be tempted to introduce the fungus responsible for it to become compost, which can later spread across the garden.
The deciding factor is, for me, Risk. Anything that can introduce pests or diseases in my compost pile (and later in my gardens) will be thrown out in the garbage. It is believed the compost heaps, which are warm enough, can kill all diseases, pests, and other pathogens, as well as seeds. No matter how many times I turn them, my piles rarely achieve this.
Yes, if you reside in an area that permits burning openly (I assume most of us don’t), you can do this to your plant suffering from disease towards the close of the season. If not, avoid the Risk. Could you place them in the garbage?
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We often claim that composting helps reduce our impact on local landfills. Throwing plants with garbage seems to be hypocritical. However, it is possible to introduce disease into our compost and later into our gardens, and we will end up with many plants going into the trash.
It takes work to understand. Some plant diseases, such as curly top virus, which strangely bends leaves and causes plants to take on an orange hue, break down very quickly in compost, hot or cold, as we’re informed (whiteflies and different insects typically carry the condition). If you live in a region that suffers from curly top disease, it’s likely to contract it regardless of what’s in your compost.
But what is the likelihood that it’s not curly top but a different, more robust virus?
Therefore, the answer is no. We don’t compost our tomatoes except if they’ve been exceptionally healthy (we are content to let the tomatoes). The conditions must be perfect. Most gardeners will decide by themselves, based on their personal needs and risk aversion.