Suelovesworms
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Location: Davis, California

Tomato plants in worm compost bins?

Organic gardening and worm composting has been my hobby for many years, but now that I have furlough time from the California state government, we are trying to grow all our produce to reduce our food bill. I plan to remove some tomato plants that are past their peak to use the space for fall vegetables. I know that tomato leaves are considered to be poisonous because tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. Does anyone know if they are toxic to worms in vermiculture compost bins?

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rainbowgardener
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tomato leaves in vermicomposting

I looked around and could not find a definitive answer to that question and I haven't done vermicomposting myself. I lean toward thinking it would be okay. BT and many insecticides that are quite toxic to insects don't bother earthworms.

If in doubt, I can testify from long experience that the tomato leaves, vines, etc are not a problem in a regular compost pile (except that the vines are so tough you need to shred them first or they don't break down for a long time)

cynthia_h
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I've put tomato vines and leaves in my regular compost bin for a long time. It has become VERY colonized by compost worms, and I find them on the decaying vines as often as not.

My only caveat is that worms don't seem to be much help with "browns." Sure, those browns will eventually disappear in a worm bin, but since worms die at temps much above 80 deg F or so (depending on your source of authority), you'll never get the heat needed to break down those browns.

So the worms will eat the leaves, but the stems might hang around for a...while. :wink:

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

rot
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Uh, what does UC Davis say?

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UC Davis is a premier research facility for such things. Maybe you can check with someone there.
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