Compost Bin Tomatoes

Compost Bin Tomatoes

One of the potential downsides of worm composting is that you can end up with a lot of viable seeds in your finished compost (seeds that would typically be killed during thermiphilic composting).

Composter Tomato Plant in Early July
Humble beginnings back in early July

At the end of the growing season last year I chopped up all my tomato plants and put them in my bin, along with a large heap of partially rotten fruit. It was therefore no surprise to see some tomato seedlings pop up this year – one of them literally growing out from the side of the bin!

Just for kicks and giggles I decided to let them grow! I was actually quite curious to see how well they would do without any further assistance from me.

Interestingly enough, even though they started a good month behind the tomatoes I planted in the garden, and even though they’ve received no additional fertilization (my garden tomatoes have slow release fertilizer sticks), they are going completely gangbusters!

The plant growing out of the bin actually broke when we had some high winds not too long ago – yet it still continues to thrive!

I’ve always wanted to test out a system that combines an active wormbin with some sort of vegetable bed, and this little experiment has only increased my desire to do so!

The fact is, I’m not a huge fan of separating worms from compost. I’m really happy with the cool separation method I tested out not too long ago (described in this post), BUT I tend to procrastinate when it comes to actually using all the worm compost I create.

Having an integrated composter/plant growth system might be the perfect solution for lazy composters like me!!

I can’t wait to see what sort of tomato crop these plants produce!

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

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    • Danielle
    • October 26, 2007

    My husband is convinced that tomato plants (and any other nightshade-related plant) should not be added to compost as it is toxic. I have never noticed any problems previously but have been keeping them out simply to keep him happy. Clearly you have not had any problems with this method. What should I tell him?

    • Bentley
    • October 26, 2007

    Hi Danielle,
    That’s interesting!
    I’ve heard people caution the use of tomato plants in compost heaps because of plant diseases, but never because of toxins.
    Maintaining good marital relations is never a bad idea (haha) so perhaps you should continue leaving them out of your pile!

    I will definitely look into this though and see what I can find!
    (I’ll write a post about it if I turn up anything interesting)
    Thanks for stopping by!


    • Bridget
    • June 24, 2008

    What ever happened with these plants? I have tomato and zucchini plants popping up all over this spring bc apparently my compost never got hot enough to kill the seeds. Wondering if I should pull them out or just let em go? Would love to hear what happened with yours.

    • Bentley
    • June 25, 2008

    Hi Briget,
    My bin tomato grew into a giant plant and produced lots of yummy cherry tomatoes. This year I have something new growing out of the bin and will be writing about that very soon!

    You might try leaving the plants to grow – it can be a lot of fun!

    • hazel
    • July 4, 2009

    Hi, I have grown on potato plants which appeared from the compost heap and these were successful. This year I have strawberry plants from the compost, but have not seen any flowers on them, also the leaves appear bigger and coarser than normal strawberries – don’t know whether to leave them a bit longer or hoick them out!

    • Kaki
    • July 29, 2009

    I started a compost pile in a plastic gardening bucket. After a month or two, I stopped, but left the pile alone. A few weeks ago I noticed a tomato plant growing out of it. I have been watching and now it is producing fruit. The tomatoes are the shape of eggplant, maybe Roma tomato. I continue to watch, maybe I have created a new vegetable fruit mix. I call it the tomeggo. Just kidding, but I am having fun watching it grow. Will it be safe to eat?? Any ideas??

    • Bentley
    • July 30, 2009

    Hi Kaki,
    Not sure why your compost veggies wouldn’t be good to eat. The plant is simply taking what it needs from the heap, and growing just the same way it would in the garden (perhaps better?). Unless of course you happen to live on a superfund site.

  1. Hello there! I’m a newbie when it comes to gardening. Planted a couple of tomato seedlings a week or so ago. I’m not sure if they’re doing well. But I don’t think I have your luck. You weren’t even trying to grow them and there they are all bushy beside the bin.

    • Dom the Postie
    • August 22, 2011

    Hi. I’ve just been directed to this site after searching the glorious WWW for help with my invasion of tomato plants. This is my first season of compost from my own composter of general kitchen waste layered with coffee grounds both mine and a great supply from my local Starbucks. It has been a great success, with only one drawback… I seem to have lost my vegetables under a mass of rogue tomatoes and sunflowers. Looks like its going to be another late summer making jar upon jar of tomato chutney.

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