Back to Back Issues Page
[Tomato Dirt] How to Get Started Composting for Tomatoes
October 11, 2012

Tomato Dirt Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 17

Dear Tomato Dirt reader,

Welcome back to Tomato Dirt! Once or twice a month, we’ll send you this newsletter packed with tips about growing tomatoes and using them.

Tomato Book

How to Get Started Composting for Tomatoes

Fall is the ideal time to get started composting for tomatoes. Most gardeners are wrapping up with tomato harvesting and can devote time to starting or adding to the compost bin. Leaves are falling, providing outstanding fodder for the pile. The time frame between fall and next spring allows several months for organic matter to break down. Compost will be ready in time for next spring’s planting.

Image: University of Illinois Extension

The process for creating compost is quite simple. At its most basic level, organic matter (like leaves and grass) gets wet and breaks down over a period of weeks or months to become compost – as it naturally happens on the forest floor, for instance. Many gardeners take a more structured composting approach by using measured amounts of carbon-rich- and nitrogen-rich organic matter, proper aeration, proportional amounts of water to move along the decomposition process in a more systematic manner.

What you need to make compost
Successful composting requires four components: food, water, air, and heat. These raw materials and environmental factors combine to facilitate the process.

Organic matter provides the fuel to create compost. The right mixture includes two primary materials, simply referred to as “greens” and “browns.” These designations don’t necessarily refer to the actual color of the composting material. Rather, green materials (grass clippings, weeds, and kitchen scraps for example) are high in nitrogen, while brown materials (dried leaves, straw, and dry grass) are high in carbon.

Set your compost pile in an area with good drainage so that it can receive moisture but will avoid accumulating excess water.

Aerobic microorganisms in your compost pile need air to survive and to continue their work of breaking down organic matter. Turning opens up air pockets in the pile. By “turning” your compost pile, you help microorganisms on the outside of the pile move into the middle, where there is more heat.

Organic matter decomposes the quickest between 140ºF - 160ºF. Some breakdown will occur as long as the internal compost temperature is above freezing. Compost is self-insulating. When you pile compost on top of compost, the middle of the pile will be the warmest.

Get all the details about getting started with composting for tomatoes when you read the full article here.

Halloween is coming! Make or buy a tomato costume

You can make a tomato costume easily out of a red sweat suit, poly fil batting, and green felt. Get all the instructions here … or you can also order a ready-made tomato costume for a toddler, child, or adult, too!

More on fall in the tomato garden …

How to save tomato seeds to plant next year How to grow indoor tomatoes Tomato grow lights explained Fall Tomato Garden Clean Up

Get special fall deals and coupons for your garden!

Gardener's Supply Company - Deal of the Week

That’s it for now. More next time!

Until then, happy gardening!

Kathy with Tomato Dirt
Find us on Facebook!

Back to Back Issues Page