Can You Recommend a Good Compost Bin?

just_me_6(WV 6 - West Virginia-Tri State)May 30, 2007

I would like to start composting (and making compost tea). Can anyone recommend a good composter that is easy to use and won't break my back or my budget? Where can I buy one?

I've heard there are composters that are round and can be turned with a handle. Any pros or cons with those? Is there a difference in quality in certain brands?

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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I love my Biostack. It makes it much easier to flip and aerate the contents. It's made by Smith and Hawkin and is expensive, but, in my opinion, worth every cent. In fact I bought another this week, so now I have 2.

If you order online, shipping is costly too, but if you have a store near you they can order it for you and you save the shipping cost. I'll post a link. Click on "more views"


Here is a link that might be useful: Biostack

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:13PM
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I want an opinion on the "cement-mixer-type" composters as well. I'm worried about my compost being open to animals and such. Is this a problem with the Biostack?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:36PM
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12 feet of 2 x 4 mesh welded wire fabric will work very well as a compost bin. The only reason you really need a bin is to contain your material, spending large sums of money on a "composter" is not necessary. If you have critteres around that might get into your compost there are not many that will actually prevent that, if the critters make up their minds they want to see what you are brewing.
In something over 50 years of composting I have not have a problem with wild critters and my compost piles. My dog and the neighbors dogs, yes, and that is why I have enclosed bins now, built myself from scrap wood except for the cedar 2 x 4 corner supports.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 8:17AM
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Lowes has something like the biostack. Seen one the other day.

I myself just use fencing to keep it all together. I'm too broke to spend any money on a bin, so I stick to the simple ways of doing things. This my first try at it, but everything seems to be rotting away just fine. You can use wood pellets. Thats what I'm gonna try after this pile is done. You can look for them from stores. I know some companies do reuse them, but some just throw them in the trash. Thats what they do where I work.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:18AM
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just_me_6(WV 6 - West Virginia-Tri State)

What are wood pellets?

Also, does composting attract insects, roaches, mice, rats, snakes, or racoons? I live at the edge of a large woods which very likely has a lot of hungry bugs, roaches, mice, rats, snakes, and racoons and the last thing I want to do is lure them closer to my house. That's one thing I hadn't even considered . . .

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:36AM
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sorry, wood pallets.

Here is a link that might be useful: site with a wood pallet bin

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 11:58AM
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snappybob(SaTexas Zone 8)

I too live near a large wooded area and have been composting for a long time. I have never had a problem with critters in my compost bin. I have the occasional possum that gets into my garden but he doesn't seem to be interested in the compost. A lot of it depends on what you are composting. If you don't want critters in your bins then I would stay away from meat and fish and things that the critters would like to eat. I regularly put produce peelings in with no problem. As Kimmsr said, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on a fancy compost bin. There is no such thing as fancy compost.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 12:21PM
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just_me_6(WV 6 - West Virginia-Tri State)

Ohhhhhhhh . . . pallets. I know what a pallet is but I thought it was something else because it was spelled 'Pellet' above. Thanks for the link.

Below is a link to another compost bin that I just ran across that I was wondering if anyone had any experience with. Their web page says you can remove the frame and start another pile next to it but I'm not sure if they mean this is something you are supposed to do on a regular basis in order to turn the contents or if it's something you have the option to do in case you want to start an additional pile next to the first one. I'm a little confused about that part. Maybe someone here can enlighten me.

The tumbling-style composters seem like they'd be less work as far as mixing or turning the compost but I haven't heard any feedback on those types yet. I don't particularly want to spend a lot of money on a composter but if it takes less physical strength and if it looks better in my yard then that might be a consideration.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pile Pro Compost Bin Link

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:33PM
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just_me_6(WV 6 - West Virginia-Tri State)

Here's another compost bin that I came across that bills itself as the 'World's Best' (see link below).

Has anyone here used this one? It's very expensive.

Here is a link that might be useful: World's Best Compost Tumbler

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 2:59PM
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Check out the Brief Intro to Composting in the FAQ and do a search on this site about the tumblers. It seems in general that beginning composters are very unhappy with the tumblers--but that they work very well for advanced composters.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 5:12PM
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Demeter(z6 NJ)

The Pile Pro one looks like you either move the bin frame and then pitchfork the half-composted material back into it to turn it. You could also move the bin frame and start putting new stuff into it and let the old batch compost in place. Depends on personal preference and how much you're going to poke your compost. Some people like to twiddle with it a lot, some people just let it sit and rot until it's done.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 6:00PM
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That looks very much like a fancied up length of 2 x 4 mesh welded wire fence fabric. I regularly buy 50 feet of vinyl covered 2 x 4 mesh welded with fence fabric for 39.95 plus tax and if I used some of that for a compost container it would still be less that the cost of that commercial one.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 7:28AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

The best composter: green wire garden fence, similar to what kimmsr suggested.

Cut a length, leave wire tag-ends. Connect the 2 ends to make a circle, and tuck in those loose wires to connect. Done. You can also use any sort of hook/loop to connect the ends if worried about getting scratched or something.

When you want to turn- undo the fastening, unwrap the pile, reconnect the ends of the fence in a spot just next to the old pile, and fork matyerial back in. The real advantage here is that the pile will maintain the cylinder shape- allowing you to take off the top and outsides first so that they get well buried and processed during turning. If you just keep adding to a pile, then you can take off the top layers and put them back in this wire-bin, leaving a big puck of finished material at the bottom!

It's cheap or free, weighs in at a couple pounds tops, sets up in no time, and (IMO) looks good too. No support beams, or permanent structures are required to hold it up.

I gave up on pallets permanently once I started using this system because it looks better, won't rot away, and any material that finds it's way out is easily scooped back in and doesn't fall down and build up between the slats.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 7:53AM
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I have a roll of wire that will do this cylinder "bin" thing. I am going to make one today and see how it works. I won't give up my tumblers but this is definitely something to have in the demonstration area. How high is your wire bin? The roll I have on hand is 4 feet, probably too high for some but it's what I have on hand so that is what I'm going to use. I suppose I could cut off a foot or so.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:04AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

I have some that's 4' and some that's 3'. Ya- that's what I had on hand (left by last property owner), so that's what I used. The only issue with the 4' stuff is that it bends in a bit if I lean in to flip the top of the pile or to dig a hole to bury meat scraps. It's not real damage and is easily bent back. I suppose that I could double the top 1' over permanently.

I wouldn't cut it off unless you're ready to file the points left down smooth.

Hey- if you have tumblers then use them. If you need more volume and don't want to buy more tumblers- then this is definitely something to try. One of mine is designated as a "slow pile"- I threw in a mess of worms from the garden and use it as an open vermicompost bin.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:30AM
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I am building a compost demonstration sight so this would just be another different method. If I cut, I will put the sharp edges down so factory edge is up. Heck I have enough wire I could make a 3 foot and a 4 foot. I would make a batch versus adding to it daily so leaning into it wouldn't be an issue I would think. I am assuming that I will have to add more stuff as it settles but that is about all I would do until I had to "unwrap" and re-pile. Kimmsr said 12 feet of wire makes a bin, is that what you used?


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:42AM
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aspen0(z5 MI)

I actually have that "World's Best" one (link below). I don't know if its the "world's best" as I've not tested dozens of types that there are, but it works really well for me.

It isn't going to work for someone with a farm, compared to a large pile it has a smaller capacity (all tumblers do).

However... for a city gardener like me its perfect for my small yard. (70ft by 120ft I think my yard is, something like that). It keeps all the compost neat & tidy, doesn't attract rodents like open piles do (and yes, they do, I used to have an open pile before I got this), and makes compost much quicker.

My open pile, or like the biostack which I tried a similar version, was would take a year or more to make finished compost... mostly because I rarely turned it.

How am I supposed to turn like that biostack thing though? Its got 4 foot high sides... so I can't get any leverage when sticking a tool in. I even tried one of those compost turner gadgets and I couldn't get it to work though.

That tumbler I got now though... its really easy to spin, even when full and heavy. It makes compost much, much, faster as well.

I didn't think it was overtly expensive. Its what? $250ish including shipping? For the bigger size? I think I paid nearly 200 with shipping for the biostack-like one I got from, and other tumblers like the Mantis I've seen advertised for as much as $400.

Those wireframe bins or a homemade bin would be cheaper ya, but they lack the benefits of a tumbler and are sometimes overkill in size for a yard like mine.

To each their own I guess. But I like the tumbler a lot.

Here is a link that might be useful: compost tumbler

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:45AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

Lloyd- Well, for a 4' diameter bin, 2pi*2'... 12 feet is about right (at 3' high, you get about a yahd and a third pile). Somewhere between 3 and 4 feet in diameter and 3' high is a yard pile.

aspen- you just pull sections off to turn a Biostack. No leverage needed. The wire bin can be made as large or small as you'd like.

Compostumbler may be easier to turn, and sounds better suited to your situation. I might actually make my own (larger scale) just for fun, but I'm way too cheap to buy one.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:17AM
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I have the larger tumbler. What I have concluded is that it is just one tool in the composting process. After 3 or 4 weeks I move the material into 4' round plastic storage bins or similar sized wire fence bins. Or I just make open piles if space is available. I could use it as 1/2 finished compost, but I have already done this for the last 6 months (processing 250 bags of leaves & coffee grounds). Now my focus is on quality vs. quantity. Also, I use bins to produce cooler compost with whole leaves & coffee w/ no turning, hopefully to develop a more fungal dominated product. As usual, it is a bit of a challenge to be cosmetically appealing & neat in smaller gardens.

So, cancel that gym membership, this is plenty of exercise. I enjoy this type of work, but it might not be everyone's cup o tea.

happy trails,

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:42AM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

Just an observation on the barrel type tumblers: A few years ago I decided to start composting (for my perennials and shrubs) so I got one of the barrel types from a local hardware store. I bought it for all the reasons other people do: neighbors, not really that much to compost, critters...ect.

I had a tough time at first figuring out how much water to add and also once you got it full and it started cooking it was hard to keep putting stuff in it because you knew it wouldn't get digested.

Anyway, after the first year of using it, I decided I needed another. One for cooking and one for adding to. Our local waste management company was promoting Earth Machines quite cheaply so people would start composting. So I went and got one.

I love the Earth Machine one for winter, just run through the snow, lift the lid, throw kitchen scraps in and forget about it til spring.

As my composting, experience and gardens have increased, I just had to go to a bin system as well. So I built a two sided concrete block one (would have done three but didn't have enough space). So much for worrying about the neighbors :-)

Now I use all three types but each for different reasons. There are advantages and disadvantages to each system in my short experience.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:52AM
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chris_ont(5a Ont)

In a different vein, for those of us with tiny gardens where slats, wire cages and cement blocks would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb....

I am very happy with the plain old plastic cone-shape bin. It tucks neatly into a small space somewhere, has a door at the bottom to pull out finished compost and a big lid on the top to dump stuff in (as opposed to that dainty little door on those knock-down square bins).
Most importantly, to me, it is ROUND. I find that much easier for stirring things up with a garden claw or cultivator.

It's not big enough to really heat up compost, but I don't compost branches, or seeds, or kitchen sinks, so it's always done the job for me. I get lovely compost, even if it's in smaller batches :) - enough to topdress the entire garden by the end of the season.

Lastly, our city supports the green-thing by subsidizing the cost of these. Having left it with the house that I sold, I just picked up a new one for this house and can't wait to start feeding the thing.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:12AM
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I've been using the Earth Machine, and I am very happy with it. I got it a couple of years ago at 1/2 price during a promotion sponsored by the County Solid Waste Department where I live. Just yesterday I picked up a second one during another promotion. So, now I have one for cooking and one that I can add to.

I've been using a garden auger that attaches to my drill to turn the pile, it's easy and works great. The auger is also helpful for mixing soil and/or breaking up hard compacted soil. As a matter of fact just the other day I worked over a patch(3'X4') along my back fence that hadn't been touched for a long time. Actually, that dirt was so compacted that I had to use a 3/4" wood auger bit first before I used the garden auger.

Some info on the Earth Machine is posted on my blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: My SFG Blog

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:07PM
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I'm just curious how many cubic yards of compost you usually make a year using one of these store bought compost bins? Did the machine cost more than what you could have bought an equal quantity of compost already made for? How many minutes or hours of work do you usually put into making one cubic yard of finished compost?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:48PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

Did the machine cost more than what you could have bought an equal quantity of compost already made for?

The barrel (turns easily on a pivot) type I bought was really high - about $200. That being said, I didn't really buy it to make great mounds of compost. My goal was to start using the kitchen scraps and little bit of garden waste I had. My husband and I were really into recycling but had never explored this area of it. So no, at first it was not cost effective but as I have gotten better at it and am able to make more batches a year it's gotten better I think. Plus, it helps that my garden (both flower and vegetable) have grown so much.

The Earth Machine was about $20 or $30 from waste management but it doesn't produce very fast for me. It's just very handy in winter when everything's frozen up and I want to dump the kitchen scraps without attracting every critter in the neighborhood.

I've never measured cubic yards with any of the composting units I use so I can't answer that question except to say all would probably depend on how much energy you put into it (turning...watering). I'm gung ho in the spring and summer but fizzle out by fall and winter.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:07PM
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Californian, a hobby should never be measured in terms of money.

I have spent many more dollars on making compost than I would on buying a few truck loads of compost. Heck, the work it takes to stop by Starbucks, wait for them to give me a bucket of grinds, take them home, and compost them is much more than going to Home Depot and buying a bag of steer compost, but I get so much satisfaction out of turning it into compost and using it in my garden and seeing the results.

My worms are much happier with me too.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:23PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

A yard of compost here, I think, goes for as much as $35. That's like 7 yards of compost for the price of a tumbler.

However- composting is more than the product. It's a way to dispose of waste, to ensure the quality of the end product, and it's just plain fun. If a tumbler makes you happy- then nobody has an arguement against it!

Heck- if I added up the money I spent on toys in the past year.
Assorted hand tools
.357 mag
Pottery wheel (ooh- nice one)
Other pottery stuff...

My return on investment has thus far been... negiligble :)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:56PM
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A tumbler makes me happy. It makes me really happy when I wait and buy it used for $100.

Makes my wife happy too. She wouldn't be happy with me buying one retail.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 3:55PM
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For moi, the money is secondary. I don't golf, the thought of spending thousands chasing and hitting a little white spheroid with a weighted stick just doesn't do anything for me. Now bowling, that's for me, I throw the ball and the machine sends it back, my kind of game. I don't fish anymore. I used to live up north where people paid thousands of dollars to go fishing. Kinda spoiled me.

Composting is a hoot, building stuff out of other peoples junk to make composting equipment is funner. What's not to love. Farming with old equipment (some of it from the 1920's) is another "hobby".

Projects on the go:

1) conveyor system to load a grain truck.
2) 1000 gallon tumbler (be still my heart)
3) pretty well whatever I want

As a side note, I built one of those wire bins. Took 12 feet of wire tied it in a circle and filled. Looks okay, will see how it works. Pictures to follow later.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 5:01PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

I haven't used one, but I think the tumbler bins work best if they are filled all at once with a mix of greens and browns with the proper amount of moisture. They are not really meant to be added to a little at a time -- or rather, are less efficient.

Another vote for (used) Biostack bins! I have 2 or 3 (depending on how many layers per bin I'm using).

I also have a wire bin. I can lift off the wire after I empty half or two-thirds of the compost, but I don't have enough space for both the mound of compost and the bin, so I end up putting off the harvesting of compost when it's time to empty the wire bin.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:32PM
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LOL, I don't golf either; I like to do more exciting things, like watching paint dry. I like to fish, but for me is more like donating bait.

The Earth Machine I purchased the other day cost me $40. It will produce about 10 cu. ft. of compost per full batch. The cheapest compost in a bag that I can get is about $2 per cu. ft. So, I'll break even next year.

Here is a link that might be useful: My SFG Blog

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:40PM
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Built the wire bin yesterday as stated before. Used 4 foot wire and as per Pablos idea, I bent over a foot of the wire instead of cutting. Standing 4 feet tall it seemed somewhat flimsy but that could be the kind of wire I used. Filling and watering was easy and the only thing I had to get used to was when using a fork to mix and stir as I watered, I had to be careful with the tines going through the mesh. No big deal, just had to get used to it. Today the material was pretty darn hot and had settled about 8 inches so I topped it up again. I took the picture before I had re-filled and you can see how far it had settled. As far as construction and ease of use, I'd have to give this method an A+. (but I guess you folks that utilize this method already knew that) Will wait and see how I do with the turning and re-piling.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wire bin composting

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 10:10PM
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aspen0(z5 MI)

Oh ya... black plastic bags are the cheapest. Fill them with stuff, put in some water, poke some holes for ventilation, and park them in full sun.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 10:47PM
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I always used a pile, but my wife didn't like the looks of a pile, and there was some deal going on where they were trying to encourage composting, so they made Garden Gourmet compost bins available for something like $10. I've had mine for over 10 years and it has done very well. It has a door near the bottom. If you're working on hot composting, you can use that to mix it, taking a shovel of compost from the bottom and putting it on top every once in a while. If you're cold composting, the stuff on the bottom is the oldest, so you can take it from there as it finishes. Many people claim that you need a cubic yard to get hot compost. This only holds 11 cubic feet, but I've seen temperatures as high as 152 F.

I don't think I would have bought it if I had to pay full price, though.

Here is a link to a recent discussion about a bin that appears to be somewhat similar that is sold at Costco.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 12:48AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

aspen: I am a small, 54 year old woman, and I turn my Biostacks easily. I did it again last night, so the stuff breaks down very quickly for me. Usually when I add a load of grass clippings it soars to 150 degrees within a day and stays there for about a week, then I flip the whole pile and add again. I have already spread 2 batches since spring began.

To turn the Biostack you remove the top tier and place it next to the bin. Then it's a short height, easy to fork into the new spot that you are building. Then you add another tier to the new spot and fork into it. (all tiers are bottomless). In the link I gave you if you click on "more views" it demonstrates how it's done. Very easy, even for a little old lady like me!

Now that I have 2 of them, I can mix and match the tiers and have one , which I keep flipping, (taller if I want it to be), and another, smaller one (if I so desire) for curing. They're just unobtrusive-looking black squares out there.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 8:39AM
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just_me_6(WV 6 - West Virginia-Tri State)

I'm the originator of this post and from all the wonderful opinions I'm hearing from everyone here, I think I'm (so far) leaning towards one of the tumblers . . . possibly the 'World's Best' (?). It'll be my first attempt at composting but I know myself well enough to know that I'm not going to enjoy turning the stuff. So the easier that part is, the better.

The tumbler prices are off-putting for me though - especially since I'm considering getting two of whichever composter I choose. Hmmmmmm, I wonder if I could find a used one?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 9:36PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

$200-$400 for a composter? PT Barnum comes to mind but that is what makes America great.

If you need compost in 2 weeks, go to the store.

I think I learned it from Pablo, the wire ringy thingy. I was dead set on using pallets and making a 3 bin system. Set up on blocks with wire mesh on the bottom so I could scoop out the compost as it was ready. When I saw a pic of Pablo's wire ringy thingy. I remembered seeing something similar in old literature about a ring system you could buy, back in the day.

Then during spring cleanup, someone had some plastic coated wire fence they were disposing of. The reason you compost is because you want to recyle right? Otherwise you would have a truck load delivered for what $35-$50?

So you have the wire fence (bought, found whatever) now what? Certainly you remember from grade school how to figure the perimeter of a circle, right?

Pi *(times) the diameter.

We ain't buildin no watch, so I use 3.14 for Pi.

3.14 * 3ft = 9.42ft
3.14 * 4ft = 12.56ft
round up or down as needed.

I measured the fence I had, did the math and figured if I made them 3ft wide I could make 4 rings, cost zero. If you need to add some greens turn that $200-$400 into one$, bingo your done, right?

The fence is 3ft high which works out perfect. I am almost 6ft and think 4ft high would be a bit much for me. In fact, I have some 4ft fence too.

I was honestly very surprised about just how much will fit into a 3x3 bin. I have 4 rings going, plus the (Trex style)bin I got from a friend last year cuz he decided it was more work than he wanted. When they settle, I just add more.

I am in no hurry because I have compost from last year when I just piled on the ground. OPL's plus whatever 3ft high by 4ft wide by about 20ft long. Of course that reduces way down, but there is still plenty left.

I still have a couple pieces of 2ft fence I have yet to use.

So if you have the money and the time/energy to turn or re-pile, and re-pile, well there really is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it does save on the gym membership, right?

This was written for those that want other options.

I contend that, like the fruitcake theory, there is really only one compost tumbler which keeps getting passed around to those searching for instant gratification.

Just my 2 cents,
Gumby_CT - who hasn't fished since he learned how to make whoopie ;-)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:04AM
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just me 6,

that tumbler looks like it is 1/2 the capacity of the larger one. A little mental exercise leads me to think that it will hold about 100 lbs of chopped leaves & depending on the frequency you unload it, about up to 125 bags of leaves to be collected in the fall for a years worth of continuous composting. Plus a couple days per week of starbucks collection.

the little down side to that design looks to me is unloading. It dumps on the ground? In which case you might want to place it where you are going to use it, and move it as needed.

good luck

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:18AM
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"The tumbler prices are off-putting for me though - especially since I'm considering getting two of whichever composter I choose. Hmmmmmm, I wonder if I could find a used one?"

I'd check Craigslist and freecycle.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:54AM
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I just pile it up with no container or wire, a lot easier to turn. I compost horse manure ,leaves, coffee grounds and vegatable scraps. I have three piles in various states of docomposition. I ususally have a new pile of compost in 3 weeks. This is a lot cheaper and easier way of composting.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 5:49PM
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I suggest a cheap mesh bin with a diameter of about 4 feet. It might run about $15; and you won't be disappointed. It holds many times the material the tumblers will hold.

Being new to composting about six years ago, I thought you needed some sort of gismo, a belief the advertisers were happy to support.

I first bought a Jerry Baker plastic bin, which was too small to retain the heat well.

Secondly, I bought a ComposTumbler for $350, spent three hours assembling it. The first few loads did not get very hot, so I lugged all the materials over to be weighted for a optimal C:N ratio. It got hot but no batch ever did get anywhere near finished in 14 days.

So now I have seven mesh bins of 24" high hardware cloth with a 1/4" mesh and a diameter of about four feet. Since they are low, they are easier on my back than the tumbler ever was. All the mesh bins together only cost about 1/3 the amount the tumbler did.

The plastic bin and tumbler sit neglected, a tribute to marketing. (The center rod in the tumbler rusted out already).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 5:49PM
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aspen0(z5 MI)

...speaking of heat... I can attest that mine I mentioned above DOES get hot despite it's smaller capacity (to the person who said you needed 1 cu/yd to get hot). I often find it steaming on hot summer days.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 8:54PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

Good thing I was already sitting down when I read these:
"I didn't think it was overtly expensive. Its what? $250ish including shipping? For the bigger size? I think I paid nearly 200 with shipping for the biostack"

"I bought a ComposTumbler for $350"

We bought a few screws to assemble our pallet bins. Paying big money to contain things which will rot, which will rot no matter where you put them, guess I am too frugal to understand that! Not to say that we haven't spent money on things the rest of you might find wasteful. (Our former sailboat comes to mind.) But if you can do it free or cheap, why spend money on it?

Some of you think a wire fence type thing looks nicer than connected pallets, why is that? I find the pallets attractive if they are matching. They look so much like a fence, and block the view of the rotting items within. Maybe it depends what you are composting. A pile of leaves and grass looks okay, but we do large scale composting of old produce, it doesn't look so nice.

Today we totally filled up a pallet bin with a pickup truck load of old produce layered with some branches and leaves we had shredded over the weekend. About 12 cases if rotting cucumbers, 6 of parsley, a few cases of lettuce, etc. Important to contain it somehow, though, as we compost many rounded items that would roll out otherwise. (Compost bin next to it has hundreds of mangoes in it.)

We did salvage some chain link fencing for my brother-in-law. He is doing the giant two part compost bin wrap thing with it, and recently unwrapped it to make two other compost piles adjacent to the first ones. That one seems to mostly contain weeds, looks straw like, so quite harmless to look at. So I guess a question for the original composter would be, what are you planning to put IN your compost? Do you have an actual need to turn it a lot, or can you just wait it out? The tumbler ones cost so much, unless you are handy and could make one.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 12:55AM
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How much gas do you use driving to starbucks to pickup a bucket full of coffee grounds? I can see composting your own leaves and kitchen scraps, but when you start driving all over the place to get a garbage can full of stuff here and a garbage can of stuff there you might be doing more damage to the environment with the fuel you use compared to the good you do by recycling the stuff.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 1:37AM
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"How much gas do you use driving to starbucks"

If it's not on the way, I don't stop.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 2:20AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

I drink a lot of iced Americanos/lattes in the summer.

I grabbed 2 bags of grounds yesterday (met my wife at StarB's) and when I went back for that 3rd bag- some old lady had scooped it. I thought about kicking her cane out from under her, but then maybe they wouldn't let me back in.

You're safe for now grandma- but I'll be watching.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 8:43AM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

In regards to people paying for an expensive tumbler or bin all I can say is everyone's situation is different. For me, I live right in the middle of town and neighbors are very close. One neighbor likes to complain to the city about everything.

When I first decided to compost I didn't have a place to set a big bin up. The yard was all landscaped and the only area I had was a child's play area. It was a big area but it had one of those kids big playsets in it and all the neighborhood kids came and played there. I didn't want to be chasing them out and also dealing with the crabby neighbor so that's why I bought a tumbler. Sometimes I'd catch the kids rotating big deal...helped me out :-)

Now the kids are to old for the area and this year I turned it into a vegetable garden. I also added the concrete bins to this area now that I don't have to worry about the kids playing in it.

So all I'm saying is that each person has their reasons for going the route they take. Of course I can compost more in the concrete bins but I'm not going to just get rid of the tumbler I have either....paid to much for it :-)

I say go with what works for you and your situation. Only you know what it is and don't worry about. No matter which way you go, it'll make compost.

As for driving around for extra materials...I only stop if something is on my way. I never just make a trip for coffee grounds. That would be defeating my purpose of recycling :-)


    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 10:22AM
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The reason you compost and what you compost really needs to decide what type of bin you need. Urban folks who want to compost their own waste without attracting undue attention from their neighbors might do well with a tumbler. They seem to offer speedy decomposition and the impression of being more sanitary. I say impression because grass clippings and old lettuce can't really be much different in the way they decompose.

I have wire ring type bins. This is because I went crazy collecting other people leaves last fall and needed the high volume afforded by the wire bins. The greatest advantage is that they never, ever, ever get (and stay) full. After the initial fill, they will shrink drastically in a very short time. You can keep refilling them almost forever, each time it takes less to top off, sure, but they never stop shrinking. When it does get to the point where you can't add enough at one time to satisfy, you can unwrap the wire, (not quite as easy as it sounds, but not too bad for me) and build a new pile right next to it. I use a small pitch fork to turn the top half of the old pile into the new bin, use a garden rake to strip/peel off the outside layer of dry, recognizable stuff from the sides of the old pile. This leaves me with a round/cylinder shape of dense compost about 1/3 as big as the original bin. It is tightly packed and will hold its shape as long as needed until I am ready for it.

If you use newish fencing that is not all bent zig-zaggy, the bins don't look too bad when filled. My dad came over earlier this year and asked why did I, and how did I, get such large bales of hay. That's what they looked like. Like one of those big, round, rolled up bales of hay you see in the hay fields, but turned on its side.

My last bins were made form CRW that I strung together from my not-in-use tomato cages. 6" squares. Now that I have put them back to use as tomato cages, I am using fencing with 2"x4" squares. I have to say the smaller squares makes them look neater, as less pokes out through the sides.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 9:24PM
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Hi Vance

Learning very quickly what you mean about being unable to keep a wire bin filled. I filled the wire bin to overflowing on Tuesday morning. By four in the afternoon I had to add stuff and then again on Wednesday morning. Today it's about six inches from the top again. I'm now thinking next time I will have two of these things and combine the two after a few days instead of continually adding to one. This way I can run a batch that was all started on the same day. This batch sure got hot very quick as well. The tumbler only gets topped off after the second day and that's it. I guess with turning it every day, it doesn't seem to settle to the extent a pile does.



    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:10PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

New composter here. I started because our waste collector stopped offering regular yard waste pick up. So I was collecting a bunch of yard waste in black plastic bags all through the winter. ( I am a rose grower and have lots of clippings from them).

Well early this spring hubby said lets go to the dump and get rid of all those bags. We then noticed how smaller they were than when we bagged them. So we had instant compost :)

We then started a pile, but that became an eyesore, so we bought the black plastic composter in Costco for $39. We put the stuff in the pile in it, some of it was already partially decomposed. I also bought a chipper shredder over the winter to chip the rose canes. I let them dry out after I cut them and they chip up real nice.

So the reasons are many. An easier way to get rid of yard waste. Not contribute more than I have to the local landfill, and perhaps get some nice compost for my flowerbeds. I don't go wild looking for stuff to put in there, although I am looking forward to the leaves this fall. Plus I feel that all the work I do for my yard goes right back into it and not in the garbage.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 6:55PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Buford - Congratulations, youÂre hooked, as evidenced by your purchase of a chipper/shredder. DonÂt forget to shred your newspaper and junk mail. Next you will be stopping by Starbucks for some UCG. (grin)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 7:56PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

It was completely selfish on my part. I was tired of dealing with thick thorny rose canes and trying to do away with them.

I haven't shredded newspaper yet, but have used it (very successfully) as a weed block on our new tomato bed this year. will definitely do more of that next year as we are fighting a noxioius ground cover that will not go away.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 9:28PM
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