Tomato Gardening 101: Best Compost for Tomatoes

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Everyone wants to grow succulent and healthy tomatoes. And it's no secret that a nutritious and well-balanced compost can do wonders for your vegetable garden. With a nutrient-rich garden that has a neutral pH and sufficient nutrients, you can be sure to produce healthy tomato plants. It is crucial to use the best compost for tomatoes to guarantee that your tomato plants grow healthy throughout their cycle.

Take a look at the types of garden compost and pick out what best suits your tomatoes throughout the growing season.

Best Compost for Growing Tomatoes

Tomatoes need good quality compost that can effectively retain moisture and nutrients, while still being good with drainage. If you want to have the best of both worlds, simply have particles of clay to hold in moisture and nutrients. Then add fine gravel and sand for free draining.

Nonetheless, we can't all know how to make our soil mix with compost. Therefore, here is a list of the best compost mix for healthy tomato plants.

1. Down to Earth Organic Bio-Fish Fertilizer

Down to Earth Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer 4-4-4, 5lb
  • Down to Earth Vegetable Garden is a five pound box of all natural fertilizer with 4-4-4 formula
  • This veggie fertilizer provides the perfect start for your sprightly spring greens, it gives your summer tomatoes...
  • Vegetable Garden Fertilizer is full of powerful nutrition to help your plants grow
  • A versatile mix for backyard gardens and hobby farms
  • Ideal for use throughout the growing season

Last update on 2024-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Down to Earth Organic Bio-Fish Fertilizer Mix is compost made of organic materials. It contains fish meal, kelp meal, fish emulsion, bone meal, and more. Down to Earth Organic Bio-Fish Fertilizer Mix is a bio-fish compost that doesn't require any additional additives and can be applied directly onto the soil surface. It boasts of high potassium from fish hydrolysate, which is an organic nitrogen source.

Where some bagged compost can have you running up a hill, I appreciated the scent of Down to Earth Organic Bio-Fish Fertilizer. I comfortably used it in my indoor pots and it worked great. I was hesitant about the fishy odor, but it turned out to be so mild it went without notice.

The scent that comes from this bagged compost is slightly sweet but not overwhelming. It is ideal for both outdoor and indoor use and can be used on most plants including flower pots. It is safe to use on any potting soil without any effects.

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  • Packaging is 100% environmentally friendly
  • It boosts bud growth faster
  • It’s OMRI certified for organic use
  • Rich in nitrogen and phosphorus


  • Not ideal for indoor planting
  • Has a mild fishy odor

2. Coast of Maine Tomato and Vegetable Plant Potting Soil Compost Blend

Coast of Maine Organic Tomato and Vegetable Planting Soil 20 QT
  • Made with premium ingredients
  • Contains compost, peat moss, aged bark and lime
  • Great for improving and revitalizing the soil in and around your vegetable garden beds
  • Naturally lightweight and contains just the right ingredients to grow plentiful, flavorful tomatoes and vegetables
  • 20-quart bag

Last update on 2024-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Coast of Maine Compost is made from lobster and crab compost, lime, and Sphagnum peat moss. It is the perfect compost for tomato seedlings and other vegetables. It did an excellent job on my tomato seedlings compared to those that were on their way to maturity. Coast of Maine Compost Blend is lightweight, nutrient-dense, and organic. Plus, one of the reasons I thought to try it out was because it is certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).

Additionally, it comes in plenty to ensure you have enough to take you through the growing season. It is one of the best-bagged compost that is suitable for garden centers and flower pots.

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  • It is a certified Organic compost
  • Nutrient-dense blend
  • High-quality 


  • It can grow fungus

3. Malibu Compost Bu’s Best Biodynamic Compost Tomato Tea

Malibu Compost Bu's Best Brew Biodynamic Compost Tomato Tea, 1 lb
  • Bu'S Best Biodynamic Compost Tomato Tea: Specially Formulated With Kelp, Worm Castings And Equisetum
  • For Use As A Foliar Feed, Soil Drench And Transplant Root Booster
  • Bu'S Best Is Hand-Crafted With Proprietary Biodynamic Preparations To Support Organic Tomato Care For Stronger,...
  • No Assembly Required

Last update on 2024-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

My plants loved these tea bags from Malibu! Being my first time using the Malibu Compost tea bags, I didn't dilute it enough. However, I noticed that one tea bag can go a long way because it serves a big garden 2-3 times in a season. Two weeks after application and my tomatoes, cucumbers, and even peppers are already popping up and healthy.

Malibu Compost Tea is made of all organic material, to ensure that you have the best quality soil. It has kelp that helps to add various nutrients to your soil mix. It also has worm castings that break down organic materials and produce potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

Therefore, if you opt for organic and environmentally friendly compost, Malibu is for you. Malibu Compost is scientifically proven to yield bigger and stronger plants. With this compost, you will not only be giving your tomatoes what they need but also preserving the environment.

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  • Improves Vegetable Garden soil
  • Purely-Natural & Organic matter
  • Packed with Nutrients


  • Can only be used outdoors

4. Dr Earth Natural Choice All Purpose Compost

Dr. Earth 749688230773 803 1-1/2 Cubic Feet All Purpose Compost, 1.5 cu. ft
  • can be used for many projects in the garden: amendment for planting trees, shrubs, bare root planting, flowers,...
  • rich in green-fed earthworm castings, valley grown alfalfa meal, cold water kelp meal, and a plethora of organic...
  • this product is made in united states
  • all purpose compost
  • use to mulch, break up clay and improve texture

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dr Earth's All-Purpose Compost is one of the best-bagged compost for vegetable gardens. It is made from 100% natural ingredients that include valley-grown alfalfa, green-fed earthworm castings, cold water kelp meal, and much more.

The first thing I loved about this compost tea was how fluffy and earthy it is. Dr Earth's All-Purpose Compost delivers when it comes to boosting plant health. The only issue is the pebbles found inside, plus some twigs that haven't properly completed the composting process.

Your tomato plants will love this compost as it promotes optimum plant health. It easily breaks down the surface layer of soil, improving its texture and allowing water and nutrients to reach plants' roots in the deeper layers.

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  • It can be used for different gardening purposes
  • It is made of 100% natural ingredients
  • Handcrafted blend


  • It contains small rocks
  • Expensive

5. Super Compost by Soil Blend

Super Compost by Soil Blend. 8 Lb. Bag of Super Compost Organic Plant Food. 2-2-2 Concentrated (8...
  • OMRI listed
  • American Vegetarian Association Approved & Recommended
  • 2-2-2
  • + Calcium & Iron

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Super Compost is a high-quality organic compost that has been certified by the American Vegetarian Association. It is made from high-quality ingredients and blended with earthworm castings to guarantee quality delicious tomatoes. Super Compost is non-GMO, odorless, and safe around pets and children. Unlike other compost that had my dog excited, I didn't have to watch over her when I tried the Super Compost.

If you are looking for compost that can be added to fertilize tomatoes, this bagged compost is hand combined for outstanding quality.

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  • Odorless
  • Recommended & approved by the American Vegetarian Association
  • Environment Friendly


  • It was a bit Expensive

The Best Types of Compost

It is common practice to add some things to your soil to create for your plants the ideal growing condition. Almost always, gardeners add compost to poor gardens for this kind of soil amendment. Nonetheless, with so many options in the market, it can get confusing when it’s time to pick out the most suitable compost. So even if you opt to use garden soil in grow bags, good compost will go a long way in helping them thrive.

Here are the different types of compost you can use:

1. Leaves and Yard Trimmings 

You can use leaves and trimmings as compost for your tomato plants. While the number of leaves and trimmings will change according to season, this option is efficient and affordable. You can easily add nutrients to your garden soil using compost made from leave and trimmings. Compost made from leaves and trimmings adds water retention to your soil.

Organic Material

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Noteworthy, if stray grass or weeds get into the compost, they may introduce unwelcomed plants into your garden.

2. Farmyard Composted Manure

Farmyard manure is one of the best options for fertilizing tomatoes. Compost manure adds phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium to your soil for healthy tomato growth. To have the best soil mix in your garden plot, phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium are required.

Graden Compost

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However, while compost manure is nutrient-rich, it is crucial to be careful with it because some manure can burn and destroy plants if used in excess. Take note that farmyard manure compost does not store well, buy or make what you need only.

3. Vermicomposting

Quality Compost

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Vermicomposting is also known as worm farming. To make this kind of compost, you let the earthworms decompose organic materials. The worms eat the materials, digest and excrete them to produce nutrient-dense casting to fertilize tomatoes.

Benefits of Growing Tomatoes in Compost

Compost is a medium that is nutrient-dense and able to sustain a tomato plant throughout a growing season. A compost that has the right composition will have all that is necessary to help even a weak plant to grow strong all season long. A good compost should have balanced NPK, high micronutrients and minerals, and moisture retention.

One Plant

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Tomatoes are known to be heavy feeders, therefore growing tomato plants in compost makes sense and can be very beneficial. Another great reason why using compost is beneficial is that it can serve as a foundation for poor soil; it attracts decomposers such as worms to enrich the soil over time.

Disadvantages of Growing Tomatoes in Compost

Compost will serve you only as well as what is in it. A well-balanced compost should have the right ratios of both nitrogen and carbon material, plus other micronutrients and minerals. Therefore if the compost you plant your tomatoes inside, lacks these critical micronutrients and minerals, your tomatoes may not turn out healthy.

Another reason why `using only compost to grow tomatoes may prove to be counterproductive is the fact that compost may not have the ability to retain water. Compost will easily allow most of the water to pass through making it difficult to maintain enough moisture that tomatoes require.

Low Nutrients

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This especially applies to homemade compost that is never of good quality. Generally, homemade compost consists of 30- 50% compost, a percentage of vermiculite, coconut coir, and sphagnum peat moss. The peat moss helps with aeration, the compost majorly has nutrients, and the coir helps with water retention.

Recommended Way to Use Compost to Grow Tomatoes

To use compost effectively and avoid burning your tomatoes, it is important to understand the three major ways it is used. When growing tomatoes, these are the ways you can use good compost; add when transplanting, make a potting mix, and also to amend the soil.

1. Amending Your Soil With Compost

There are many ways to amend your soil using compost. While some people will prefer to simply layer the compost on top, it will depend greatly on the condition of that soil. If your soil is in good health, layering on top with compost is just fine. With good compost, you won’t have to wonder whether you need to replace garden soil every year.

However, you might want a different approach and go a little deeper into the soil if you have poor soil. You can put the compost a few inches into the soil or mix it with your soil to change the soil ph or soil temperature. A layer of rich organic matter with being very beneficial to your tomatoes and other plants.

Large Pots

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2. Adding Compost When Transplanting Tomatoes

When you don’t have enough compost to create a layer of organic matter, you can dig a planting hole and add in your compost. Compost is safe for use with plants because it doesn’t burn roots. It acts much like an organic, slow-release fertilizer and your tomato’s roots will appreciate it.

Placing the compost where the roots of tomato plants will grow, ensures that your young plants absorb enough nutrients. Using compost in this way ensures that your plants are sufficiently nourished and the soil remains healthy too. Planting tomatoes deep and having them get the nutrients they need at a young stage through their root system, ensures

3. Making a Compost-Based Potting Mix for Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes in containers whether indoors or outdoors will require that you have the correct potting mix. A good potting mix will have the right ph level, good soil moisture, and not too much nitrogen. You can use compost for potting mixes to ensure your plants receive enough nourishment for healthy growth.

When tomatoes are over-fertilized, they can grow and look big from the outside, but they will not have a blossom end. It is common to see tomato plants look beautiful at first sight, but then realize it has no flowers or fruits.

The only comfort is that while using compost, you will never have to worry about over-fertilization. Good compost is well-balanced and supplies nutrients to your tomatoes without causing any growth-related issues. Therefore, using compost to fertilize tomatoes has more benefits to a farmer or gardener than using only fertilizer.

How to Choose the Best Bagged Compost for Your Tomato Plants

Bumper Crop

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Finding the right compost for your garden can be challenging, especially with all the brands in the market. And while we have shared detailed reviews of some of the best-bagged compost, you might not find them in your local store. We have therefore compiled a few tips to help you pick the best compost from what is available:

1. Read the All Labels Carefully 

It is important to read the label on your compost carefully. Ensure that what you are buying is organic and does not contain any synthetic chemicals that are harmful to plants. The best compost for your tomatoes should be high in organic matter such as plant debris, grass, leaves, manure-based, or worm castings.

2. Avoid Composts Consisting of Weed Seeds

As you pick out a compost that is high in organic matter, ensure that what you take home does not contain weed seeds. Composts with weed seeds will introduce unwanted growth in your garden that will compete for nutrients with your tomatoes. Weed seeds germinate and crowd your limited space, and it’s worse when you are applying the compost in a full-fledged tomato garden.

Best Soil

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3. Go for Compost That Is Finely Ground

Finely ground compost is good, especially if you are working on raised beds. When the compost is finely ground, it breaks down easily and will be more available for your tomatoes to use. Ensure that the compost is finely ground but not too dry or too wet. Dry compost will not provide moisture and wet ones will suffocate your tomatoes.

4. Don’t Buy Compost Made from Only One Type of Material

A good compost should blend different organic materials. In this way, the compost can provide all the needed micronutrients and minerals your tomatoes need. A balanced nutrient supply is essential for all plants, therefore ensure you don’t go for compost with only one material.

5. Test the Compost Before Using It 

When you shop for compost, it is important to test it before applying it in your garden. If your supplier doesn’t provide products for testing, ask around or buy a small packet to go test. Test the compost in a small vegetable patch, and see its effect before applying it straight to your tomatoes and garden as a whole. After you are sure the compost doesn’t have adverse effects or that the plants love it, you can buy the whole bag.


Compost is an essential part of planting tomatoes. While a well-balanced soil will yield more tomatoes, adding compost will ensure you increase your yield. Compost can be anything from cow manure to kitchen scrapping, but the best compost should contain more organic matter to ensure your tomatoes are supplied with nutrients sufficiently.

There are several types of compost in the market, so the option you settle for you buy will depend on your needs. Even if your garden has clay soil that retains a lot of water and is prone to waterlogging, there is always a good compost to work with. All you have to do is check out some of the best compost for clay soil and you can start planting.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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