Can You Compost Tomato Plants? - Backyard Boss
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Can You Compost Tomato Plants?

Ripe and juicy tomatoes are a show stopper in any vegetable garden. Once you have a full harvest its rewarding to slice into fresh tomatoes grown right in your backyard. But, if you have ever grown tomatoes then you know once they’re done producing fruit, the plants can be quite sprawling and leggy. So, what do you do with them once you harvested all the fruit?

Turns out, you can compost them! But before you go throwing the entire stem in your compost, there are some things you should know. Composting tomato plants is a bit more complicated than one might think. Keep reading to find out why!

Composting Tomato Plants – Is It a Good Idea?

Compost bin in the garden. Composting pile of rotting kitchen fruits and vegetable scraps
Image Credit: Evan Lorne via Shutterstock

It’s a common question – can you compost tomato plants? The answer is yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

If you compost tomatoes along with the vines, some seeds may remain that can cause seedlings to appear in your garden. While this may not be a problem for some gardeners, others may find it undesirable. If you don’t want tomato plants sprouting up everywhere, make sure to remove the seeds before composting.

Another thing to keep in mind is that tomato plants can harbor diseases and pests. So, if you’re thinking of composting your tomato plants, it’s important to ensure that they are healthy. If there are signs of disease or insects, it’s best to discard the whole plant.

If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be able to successfully compost your tomato plants!

How To Compost Tomato Plants The Right Way

green waste compost bin
Image credits: Ben_Kerckx via Pixabay

When composting your tomato plants, layer your compost pile. Start with organic material such as garden wastes, clippings, small twigs, and leaves — This will form the base of your pile.

Next, add a layer of manure, fertilizer, or starter to help get the internal temperature up.

Finally, top it off with a layer of soil that will introduce beneficial microorganisms to the mix. Turn the pile when the temperature falls below 110 degrees Fahrenheit to aerate the soil and keep everything mixed up. The internal temperature of your compost pile should be maintained at 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Various Fungal Diseases You Should Be Aware Of

One of the most concerning problems gardeners have when adding tomato plants to their compost is disease. There are several different types of fungal diseases that can affect tomato plants. Each of these diseases can cause different symptoms in your plants and effect your compost so it’s important to be able to identify them.

Tobacco Leaf Mosaic

Tobacco mosaic virus disease on tomato
Image credits: Plant Pathology via Shutterstock

Tomato plants are susceptible to a virus called Tobacco Leaf Mosaic Virus (TMV). This virus is transmitted by several species of aphids, and it can cause the leaves of infected plants to develop a mottled or mosaic pattern. The virus can also cause the leaves to curl, stunt the growth of the plant, and reduce yields. Infected plants may produce fewer and smaller fruit, and the fruit may be misshapen.

There is no chemical control for TMV, so the best way to prevent it is to avoid introducing infected plants into your garden. Inspect any new tomato plants carefully before adding them to your garden and remove any that show signs of infection. You should also avoid handling tobacco products if you plan to work with your tomato plants, as the virus can be transmitted from your hands.

If you suspect that your tomato plants are infected with TMV, you should remove and destroy them immediately. This will help to prevent the virus from spreading to other plants in your garden. You can also try growing resistant varieties of tomatoes, such as Amarillo, Corleone, or Goliath. These varieties have been bred to be resistant to TMV and some other mosaic viruses.

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium Wilt on tomato plants
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Fusarium wilt is a plant disease that can affect tomatoes. The disease is caused by a soil-borne fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici. This fungus invades the plant through its roots and clogs them so water cannot get through. This leads to a decrease in water uptake by the plant, which results in wilting and eventually death.

The symptoms of fusarium wilt include yellowing of leaves, wilting, and eventually death of the plant. The symptoms usually start on one side of the plant and then progress to the entire plant. Leaves may also drop off the plant. Fusarium wilt can affect both seedlings and mature plants.

Fusarium wilt is a serious problem for tomato growers because there is no cure for the disease once a plant is infected. The only way to control fusarium wilt is to prevent the fungus from infecting the plant in the first place. This can be done by using clean, pathogen-free transplants, practicing crop rotation, and avoiding planting tomatoes in areas where the fungus is known to be present in the soil.

If you think your tomato plant has fusarium wilt, it’s important to have it diagnosed by a qualified professional. This is because there are other plant diseases that can cause similar symptoms. The best thing you can do is to remove the plant from the garden and destroy it so that the fungus doesn’t spread to other plants. Additionally, consider planting fusarium wilt-resistant varieties, such as Mistral, Grandma’s Pick, and Silverado.

Bacterial Canker

Bacterial Canker of a tomato
Image credits: KaliAnty via Shutterstock

Bacterial canker is a serious disease that affects tomato plants. It can cause the leaves to wilt and turn yellow, and eventually, the whole plant may die. If your tomato plant is infected the stems will likely split and turn brown, oozing a yellow liquid. The size of your tomatoes will also decrease and the skin will appear discolored.

There are several ways to prevent bacterial canker from infecting your tomato plants. First, make sure to choose healthy plants or seeds from a reputable source and ensure your plant doesn’t have any spots or blemishes.

If you think your plant may be infected with bacterial canker, the first step is to isolate it from any healthy plants. This will help prevent the disease from spreading. Then, contact your garden center or agricultural department for advice on how to proceed. In many cases, the best course of action is to simply remove the affected plant and destroy it.

If you take proper precautions, you can help prevent bacterial canker from affecting your tomato plants.

Come Compost!

So, can you compost a tomato plant? The answer is yes but, as you can see, complicated. If the plant is still healthy, you can probably chop it up and add it to your compost pile. However, if the plant has any disease, then it’s best to just discard it in the trash.

Have any tips or tricks for us? Leave a comment below!