compost in tumbler didn't get hot

sawyerkirkJune 13, 2014

So, I filled my tumbler with 5 gallons of fresh rabbit manure, 10 gallons of horse manure and 10 gallons of chicken litter. My chicken litter is a probably more hardwood sawdust than manure. then filled the rest of my 50 gallon tumbler with wheat straw. I know I am probably shy on the straw. the mixture never got hot. it's been 2 weeks. any suggestions on what I should do? I have some room in there now for something more, or should I dump it and start a new batch? If I dump it can I add the same straw back in? Thanks.

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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

It doesn't need to get hot to make compost, and the volume of a tumbler is probably too small to retain much heat anyway. The rule of thumb is at least a cubic yard for a hot pile, and that's with the bottom insulated by the ground.

If your batch is deficient in N though, it will take a long time to get compost. If it seems like the straw is not breaking down, you can add more greens. Are you putting your kitchen scraps in every couple of days?

One problem with a tumbler is that compost takes awhile to 'finish', i.e. the long cool curing stage after initial breakdown. Where do you put new stuff in the meantime? As soon as you have one pile (or tumbler) you need a second one. A cheaper option is to empty it into a wire cage or bin and let it cure awhile while you start a new batch.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:05AM
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I've not had a lot of luck with using wheat straw in any of my tumblers. It might get hot for a very short period (couple of days) in the large tumblers and then pfft, nothing. I remember reading something about too much lignin or something like that in straw. In any event it doesn't work well for me in tumblers for thermophilic composting.

And as Tox stated tumblers generally do not have enough volume to create a lot of heat.


This post was edited by pt03 on Sat, Jun 14, 14 at 12:48

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 1:13PM
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How wet was the mix?
Tumblers are too small in volume to generate much heat even if the mix is close to optimal, and more often then not I have found the mix in tumbler composters was too wet.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 6:39AM
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It worked well last summer, I made several batches that I am now utilizing in the garden. I will add some more greens and see what happens.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:23AM
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