The debate over whether to compost tomato vines is a controversial one. Since tomato plants can harbor diseases such as blight, composting them improperly can lead to disease-ridden compost. Once the compost is spread through the garden and amended into the soil, it can spread disease to any tomato plants that are planted in the garden in the future. However, properly processing your tomato vines in a hot compost pile will help to kill disease and lead to healthy compost.
Chop up your tomato vines, garden scraps and vegetable scraps into one inch lengths with garden shears.
Chop up dead leaves by spreading them over the ground and mowing them with a lawn mower.
Pile dead leaves into the compost bin to a depth of six inches.
Layer grass clippings, vegetable scraps, tomato vines and garden scraps into the compost bin to a depth of six inches.
Continue to build your compost pile in layers. The pile should be about five feet deep by five feet wide by five feet tall.
Wet the compost pile with a garden hose until it is damp, but not saturated.
Poke holes in the side of the pile with a pitchfork.
Insert a compost thermometer into the center of the compost pile to test the heat. The heat should rise to somewhere between 110 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill seeds and plant diseases.
When the compost pile temperature drops below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, turn the compost pile. Make sure that the center of the pile is moved to the outside, and vice versa.