Composting for Tomatoes

Homemade compost for growing tomatoes

If you want to grow organic tomatoes, you definitely want to use only natural fertilizers and compost. Also if you want to have a good crop, you need to feed your tomato plants well, as they are heavily fruiting plants as compared to the plant size itself. 

There are different ways of composting for tomatoes. It’s actually easier than it may seem! Here I will explain how to build your own compost pile, but there are other ways as well. 


How to make compost

How to build a compost pile

  • Start you pile directly on the ground – you want worms and insects as well as air to travel freely through your composting pile
  • Create the first layer (about 5 cm thick) of twigs or small branches
  • Start adding composting materials
  • In between the composting material layers add layers of twigs and soil
  • Do not cover the pile, let the rain water it. You can also water it occasionally to keep it moist.
  • Let some air in from time to time. Push a stick into the pile and try to lift it up a bit. Do it randomly in a few places. 
  • Optional: you can build a fence around to keep it in shape and improve the looks. You can use planks or tree branches for it. 

What can you compost?

Generally most organic waste can be put into compost, but there are a few exceptions. There are different approaches to what you can put in your compost. For example, ideally you shouldn’t put in your compost any plants which don’t grow naturally where you are. The reason for that is that there are various moulds and fungi feeding on them, which are different to those in your environment and it’s probably not a good idea to change its natural balance. Apart from that, banana or orange (and some other fruit) peels may contain pesticides or other chemicals used to preserve them in transport, so don’t want them in your compost for this reason. However, contrary to what I mentioned above, I would put in my compost tea leaves and coffee grounds as they are rich in nutrients, although they don’t grow in my environment. 

Things you can put in your compost

  • Leaves
  • Grass cuttings
  • Pruning and cuttings
  • Weeds (but avoid those with seeds)
  • Other garden waste
  • Seaweed
  • Eggshells
  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Any plant food scraps
  • Wood shavings
  • Wood ash
  • Paper 

What not to put in your compost

  • Meat leftovers
  • Dog or cat litter
  • Coniferous tree cutting or needles (they can create very acid soil)
  • Anything inorganic: plastic, metal etc


How long does composting take?

It takes 9 – 12 months before you will be able to start using your compost.

How to know when compost is ready?

Your compost is finished and ready to use when it looks and smells like potting soil.


Why is my composting pile steaming?

Sometimes you can see steam coming out of your composting pile, especially after the rain on a hot day. Is there something to worry about if your compost is steaming? No, it’s actually a good sign and a natural part of the composting process. While the organic parts are composting, they are producing gases and heat, that’s why your compost may be steaming. 


Hot compost and cold compost

What is the difference and which is better for tomato plants?

Cold compost is unmanaged (also called passive), you only add organic waste on top of the pile. Hot compost is a managed process in order to speed it up. Hot composting requires a container in which the organic material breaks down. The container prevents temperature loss, that’s why organic material decomposes faster. 


How to make hot compost

How to make cold compost

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