Do any of you guys use a ComposTumbler?

leubafr(z8/9)March 19, 2010

I am considering buying a Compostumbler for my garden because my husband doesn't want compost piles laying around. It makes it fit and tidy. Are they worth it?

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leira(6 MA)

I use garbage can composters, which I've made myself, and which are much cheaper. Get a large plastic garbage can (I use 32 gallons), and drill holes all over the sides and bottom. I turn mine by dumping it out and shoveling the contents back in with a pitchfork.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 7:31PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

If monies not a problem, but neatness is then I would buy a tumbler type, especially if I had a lot of material and need compost "quicker" than the normal.
my Pop used the garbage can for "quick" compost his lid was held in place by big clips and he used to roll it round the yard every day or so, great sport for us kids, but in the main he used pallets.
personally I am mean and the idea that my "free" compost become an expensive commodity, isn't for me.
"quicker" I am lazy and only turn when the fancy takes me :-)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 8:42PM
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granburyflowergirl(7)

I bought one online from Home Depot about a year ago (for about $150.00)for my mom and she loves it. I see they now carry a nicer looking one in their stores for less.

The only problem is once it was 1/2 full, it became too heavy for her to turn - it is difficult for me too despite the design with built in groves for grabbing and pulling. I see the new design has a turn handle I wonder if that would work better. The weight problem with mine may be user error as I didn't balance the mix with dry brown materials etc like you are supposed to.

My mom is thrilled with it because it greatly reduces the amount of trash she sends to the landfill, no matter how much she adds it seems to stay 3/4 full so the stuff just seems to dissolve. Unfortunately, due to my ignorance/laziness regarding proper balance it stays 3/4 full of a soupy buggy sludge that truth be told I am a little afraid of.

I am new to this site and hoping to educate myself a year late - but better late than never! :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:22AM
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jeremyjs

They work, but they're a little more difficult to manage, more expensive, and have limited space. You could always buy a couple of plastic compost bins instead. They're generally a great deal cheaper than a tumbler, but require periodic turning to get compost quickly.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:22AM
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smdmt

I have 3 tumblers - all freebies- one of which is a ComposTumbler. I use them because I don't want to risk animals getting into a ground bin. I'd prefer a ground bin, but am satisfied with the tumblers. You have to "work" them, keeping the mix moist and turned. Also, keep moving the side stuff to the middle as the tumbling doesn't mix it good enough to be left alone. Unless you have chopped the browns and greens into small pieces, have the right ratio, and keep the mix aerated (don't let it pack down), it won't make compost in 2 weeks like they advertise. I can get hot compost, but it takes work. I love it though!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 6:29PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Well, I wouldn't spend 2-400$ that I keep getting ads for, but I WAS very happy with the $5 tumbler I found at recycletown (at the dump)
Until it broke down after about 5 years, I would put everything in it, tumble it maybe 1x per week, then dump it into the compost bin. It took WAY less time to get a finished product!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:19PM
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anubis_pa(z5 PA)

I've been happy with mine for about 5 years, until one of the sides where the post runs through it has started to crack. I'm spoiled by not worrying about burying scraps in the dark here on the edge of the woods. The twist lid keeps the bear cubs out of it each spring, so I'm hoping to replace with something similar, rather than train bears that we have food available near our house.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:30PM
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leubafr(z8/9)

Thanks to you guys for giving me the insite to make a good decision. I have been told several times by various people, that they have used large black plastic garbage cans
with holes drilled in them for ariation. They also use bungie cords to keep the lid secure. They just put their stuff in, secure the lid and roll it around on the grass every few days making sure to keep the contents moist. I think I will try this first before I purchase a more expensive model that tumbles and rolls.

Again, thanks to all,

Mary

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 4:35PM
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deburn(6 - Boston MA)

Hi Mary,

Also check with your town/city - they probably have a program where they give discounted composters to residents. That's how I got my Earth Machine last year, which I'm very happy with!

deburn

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 5:29PM
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robertz6

I gave mine away last year. The center bar rusted thru after three years, but I had given up using it after a year and a half. Too much work for what you got.

Now I use mesh bins made of hardware cloth (stronger than chicken wire). They hold much more, cost less than $20, take only 5 minutes to put up (tumbler took three hours to assemble), and is less work in general to use. Also, mesh bins hold heat better than a tumbler in winter.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 4:07PM
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sheaviance1(6b)

I recently purchased a used Mantis Twin composter, and just emptied it out today into a compost bin we made from free industrial shelving. I couldn't get the compost tumbler to heat beyond 85 degrees. I'm not really sure what I am doing wrong, because my open compost bins are cooking at 155 degrees right now. Cleaning it out was not as bad as most because my wheelbarrow rolls right up underneath it, so you just turn and dump. I am going to start over with the tumbler and try, try again. Sooner or later I will figure out what it likes. I don't want to dissuade you from trying a compost tumbler. I firmly believe that they work well once you figure out what they need. The (deceased) lady I purchased mine from was very successful with this one. I believe that she used some sort of "activator" which I don't use because with my open bins, it isn't necessary, and I don't see why it should be in a tumbler, but if all else fails, then I will try that. Good luck with your decision. Happy Composting!!!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 5:48PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

sheaviance1, I find with my twin tumbler I have to let it run with a bit more nitrogen than a bin. I don't seem to get what the ad says, but then I don't grind up everything first. I have gotten mine up to 160 more than once, and it seems to really work well. If it needs moisture I have been known more than once to use human urine. UCG's are a great activator in the tumblers.

Sandy

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 8:00PM
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sheaviance1(6b)

Hi Sandy,
I'll definitely try more N in my next attempt. I didn't grind everything up either. My first try had leaves, cow manure, UCG's, straw, kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper, urine, houseplant trimmings, a gallon of sweet tea and weeds in it. When I removed all the material today, the moisture content was great, somehow even managed to have a few worms in it, but it just won't heat up like my open piles do. Is it possible to turn a tumbler too often (you know, obsessively)? I have been turning it about every three days, maybe my microbes are too dizzy to work.....
Norma

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:44AM
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sheaviance1(6b)

Quick update on my comments above, I took the temperature of my pile about 3 hours after dumping everything out of the tumbler and it read 66 degrees (it was at 80 in the tumbler). I took another reading this morning and it was up to 79 degrees already after about 12 hours.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 10:40AM
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Lloyd

How much straw was used?

I had bad luck with straw in tumblers.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:12AM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Lloyd, I agree with you, I don't like to use straw in my tumbler either. Just doesn't seem to go anywhere. Leaves, paper/cardboard from the shredder works great for me. I now have someone that has a home wood shop giving me sawdust so will have to give that a try this summer. I do find the smaller the stuff going in there the quicker it does heat up. I have used straw but have to send it through the chipper first. Or run it over and over with the mower first then put it in.

Grass clippings always work well for a jump start in the tumbler also, Mine will be getting some next week if we get a nice day or two and the soil dries out. I have a side that is half finished from the winter. But I want to get it heated up one more time so I will fill it with grass clippings.

Sandy

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:30PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Norma I turn mine most every day. Sometimes a couple times a day if I add stuff during the day. I turn it after I add something, or at least once a day. I think air is one of the important things in compost. One reason I bought a tumbler, I hated to turn a pile the old fashioned way.

I find the tumbler fun, and a challenge. I hope to get some grass in there before the end of the week.

Sandy

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 2:13PM
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sheaviance1(6b)

It was probably half a five gallon bucket of straw, and it had soured so I thought it would be okay in there. I'll leave it out this go-around and see what happens. Thanks!!!!
Norma

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:10PM
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Lloyd

Ya, that doesn't sound like too much straw, maybe it was something else. Wish I could help you more. Sorry

Lloyd

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:28PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Norma I find in my tumber that straw just won't go away. Unless I first really chop it up. Where I can put whole leaves in there and they will compost but for some reason straw has a huge issue in there. So if and when I am able to get bales of straw I use that for a mulch in my veggie garden. Works really great in the walk ways. And with walking on it all summer it ends up being worked into the soil and goes away by next spring.
Sandy

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:40AM
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seamommy(7bTX)

A note on using straw or sawdust in the tumbler, those are HUGE nitrogen eaters and to compost them will take a lot more green sources than you would normally use. I found with my tumbler that a 40/60 mix of greens/browns resulted in the 14 day compost that they advertise. For greens I used fresh grass clippings and for browns I used the usual mixture of shredded leaves, brown paper, etc. I turned it every day and never added any water to it. The grass was that soft, fluffy really green stuff that was about 6" tall in early Spring when we mowed it. I've never gotten the same result with grass that wasn't that fresh.

Granburyflowergirl you've added too much moisture or moist ingredients to your tumbler and you should dump it out. If the inside of the tumbler stays too wet for extended periods it will rust and break. My mom had one, but it was located where the sprinkler system hit it every night when she watered the yard. Her tumbler rusted out in less than two years. But I called the Compostumbler folks and they sent me some new parts for free, since it was still under the 2 year warranty.

I've never had any problems with mine and when the contents are not too wet, I don't have any trouble turning the handle either. It would be nice to get finished compost every 14 days, but it's just not possible with ordinary ingredients. I start a new batch in the fall with ground up leaves that I moisten before I put them in. Then through the winter I add our kitchen waste a couple times a week. Usually by about May the tumbler is finished and what I get is mostly leaf mold which is wonderful stuff.

I've had my tumbler now for about 15 years. Since it doesn't smell and doesn't look real icky either I can keep it fairly close to the back door. In winter I don't have to walk too far to put stuff in it. DH prefers his ground compost bins to the tumbler and he makes a lot more compost than I do, but it's really hard work to turn the piles with a fork, sift the finished product and store it in barrels.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:01AM
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sheaviance1(6b)

Hi Cheryl,
I will try that too, I'm glad it has two sides, I can do a side by side comparison, WhooHoo!!

Dear Leubafr,
I feel bad that the your topic has become help me out, but I hope that the information being passed back and forth is helping with the decision making process :) I don't regret my purchase, I just hope that I figure it out pretty soon, and the only way to do that is try again, and again. Have you made a decision as to what type of composter you would like to try?
Norma

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:07PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Cheryl, I am gathering from what you posted is you use your mostly for yard waste. I don't normally bag my grass, I like to mulch mow and feed my yard as I mow. I use mine for more kitchen waste than yard wast. I gather other people leaves for my tumbler. I have not been home the last couple days so I need to go out and check my tumbler...

Sandy

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 5:15PM
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briergardener_gw

I did not check at first and created a new thread on this topic. Sorry.
I am looking at tumbler that has holes only in a middle pipe. Will it be sufficient to provide air flow?
How long it might take to make compost if i put kitchen scraps and last year fall leaves?
What do add to create instant heat? Fresh grass cuttings?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 1:35PM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

I seen your other thread. I am not sure which tumbler you are going for. I would say because you would opened it up daily, or I would just to check it, that would put air in the tumbler. Turning compost helps to speed up the process. I love my Mantis Twin. Yes grass clippings can help to heat it up, but also can cause a slimmy mess. My tumbler is a bit on the wet side right now, but I will just open it up today to allow it to dry out a bit. I would worry about yours also getting to wet if there are no holes for the extra moisture to get out. Mine will drip out some of the moisture. I hope to be dumping one side in a week or two.
for the most part I do not use grass in mine, we normally have enough kitchen scraps to keep it going.
Sandy

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 7:59AM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Ok it is a crisp 0 degrees outside this morning. I went out and opened up the tumbler and both sides were steamy. I took my little digital thermometer and stuck it into the right hand side of the twin tumbler. I did get a couple nice photos of how warm it is in there. My husband things I am ready for the rubber room when I get so excited over the readings.

This side just has kitchen scraps, leaves and paper/cardboard.
Sandy

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 9:08AM
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Lloyd

You HAVE a rubber room??!!

;-)

Lloyd

p.s. Nice pics!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 9:24AM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Lloyd yes doesn't everyone have a rubber room?? Heck I raised two sons I needed one to surive that!!LOL
OH and it was 50 degrees, not 0!!!

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 11:44AM
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