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Best Compost Tumbler

Posted by kentstar 5b NE Ohio (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 28, 08 at 8:26

Hi all. I am thinking of purchasing a compost tumbler, but would like to know if there are any recommendations on what brand. Any particular one I should look at? Is a "tumbler" easier to use than the "bin type?"
I appreciate and thankyou for your ideas.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

I think you'll find a more definitive answer in the age-old "tastes great"/"less filling" argument.

You have been warned. :)


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

For the cost, I'll stick w/ my hot compost pile. I have a small back yard and smaller garden, but I wouldn't do w/ out it now.


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 28, 08 at 9:27

G'morning Kent

I think most of the tumbler crowd has been driven away so getting actual advice from a tumbler user might be tough.

First off, what are you composting mostly? Kitchen trimmings, yard waste, small animals?

How big is your yard? How big are you? Those tall tumblers are pretty tall.

Are you into batch or continuous composting? Do you compost all year long or is it seasonal?

Have you composted before? Any experience with ratios and moisture requirements of composting?

Is there a garden club in your community you can contact to see if anyone locally has a tumbler you can go look at?

Any issues with vermin around your yard? Snakes, hyenas, rats, cats or elephants?

I have only used home built tumblers so am unqualified to give recommendations on commercial ones but if one gives thought to the parameters of their situation they can often narrow the field down to a few.

Good luck

Lloyd


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

Compost tumblers Some people love them and get good results. Others purchase or build one only to get rid of it later and never compost again. Tumblers require precision in getting the mixture of greens/browns and water right for them to work well. For me, a wire bin works best. Cheap, effective, and easy to use. Pallet bins are also very good. A search of this forum will reveal lots of information. Click on my page to see my bins.

Bill Hill

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenweb composting FAQ


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

  • Posted by val_s z5 central IL (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 28, 08 at 14:20

kentstar - I've only been composting 2 or 3 years and have been where you're at....so let me tell you about my experience.

When I got the compost bug I wanted everything neat and tidy so talked my husband into a compost tumbler (I don't think brand really makes a difference). Somehow I managed to make a batch of the most wonderful compost I've ever seen - light, fluffy, earthy smelling, not enough but.....wonderful. Alas, it never happened again. Twas beginners luck or something.

Because I wanted more compost than the tumbler could provide, I also started a compost bin and got an Earth Machine. Now that I have a little more experience the tumbler holds extra leaves during the winter so that I can use them in my bin and EM. It is a VERY expensive leaf holder...LOL.

Just my .02

Val


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

  • Posted by gnomey 7b SC zip296 (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 28, 08 at 20:18

I have a ComposTwin tumbler that Mantis makes. It was expensive. I bought it several years ago when I had more money to spare. I still use it, but also have piles, a windrow and do sheet composting.

Anyway, I have always enjoyed my tumbler and not had any problem getting dark, rich and crumbly compost out of it. Granted, it doesn't happen in the 10 or 14 days that they claim, but still, it works and is easy on the back. It can get harder to turn when both sides are full though.

I rarely add any water to the tumbler. Generally the greens that get added provide enough moisture and the mixture doesn't dry out quickly inside the barrel. I think you can run into problems if you add too much water, but if it gets too wet you can turn it so that the doors are facing the ground to allow any excess liquid to drain, then turn it so that doors are on top and take them off for a day or an afternoon or so to let it dry out some. Or, if you have room you can just add enough dry browns to offset the extra moisture.

If your heart is set on a tumbler, there are cheaper options that I imagine would work just as well. I'm sure you could build one very inexpensively and be very happy without laying out a bunch of cash.

I've never had/seen/used an Earth Machine like Val has, so I can't comment on that type of composter. I always say you should just do it your way - that is, whatever way works for you. I'm not going to argue with someone's method if their end result is good compost.


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

pt03 asks a very crucial question - are you looking to do individual batches of compost 2-3 months apart or do you wish to do continuous process composting adding stuff daily and getting a steady supply of compost to use? Your answer will determine which approach is best for you. And, if it is only kitchen scrap composting, then give serious consideration to vermicomposting as the best route to go.

If a batch every couple of months is what you want, then a tumbler may work if, as already mentioned, it is done with care and you are lucky.

If you want to have a steady supply and a more relaxed approach to the process, then a tumbler will not work for you but a bin will do well.

Marketing hype and the costs associated with the two different approaches are, of course, drastically different and marketing hype is just that - hype - as many have discovered. ;)

May I suggest that you might want to review the many prior discussions on this question linked below for more opinions.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Best tumbler discussions...


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

I have never composted before so I am completely new to this. Thankyou all for any information. I think I will keep buying compost or get it from the city.
As for "Lloyd's" comments...
Yes, Lloyd I have Elephants in my backyard, oh and hyenas in NE Ohio.
Sorry all I just found that comment a little rude.


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

I wouldn't give up on composting just because there are so many different opinions on this board. That just demonstrates that there are a lot of different ideas and approaches. As for Lloyd's comment, I didn't see it as rude, I saw it as humorous, or at least as an attempt at humor. Sometimes humor doesn't come off well in an on line forum, but I don't think Lloyd was trying to be rude. Lloyd--please correct me if I'm wrong. I wouldn't want to interfere with you if you're being rude.

If you're just getting started, you might want to try an approach that doesn't need as much money to start. I have a plastic bin that I have used for over 10 years, but I got it when it was subsidized by the county (or maybe the state) to try to reduce yard waste in the trash. I also passively compost on the garden by piling things up in the fall (it's mostly gone by spring).

Some people make bins with pallets they get for free, or fencing that they get pretty inexpensively. A few people here have used various sized garbage cans with holes drilled in them. When I was a kid, we just had a pile in the corner of the back yard.

I didn't reply before because I've never used a tumbler so I don't know anything about which might be the best. Some people swear by them and from what I've read, when they're properly managed, they can produce compost faster than a bin or a pile.


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

I thought Lloyds comment was pretty humorous when I first read it and still do.

I was new to this earlier this year too. I buried a very stinky hot compost mistake in the garden. I dug a trench about 2ft deep x 15 ft long x 18" wide. I added several layers of cardboard,grass clippings, My very stinky, very wet hot compost mistake that was in a home made tumbler, lots of kitchen scraps that had accumulated - corn cobs, watermelon rinds, more cardboard. Then I covered it back up w/ the dirt I had removed. I expect it to be a very good place to plant next year. My basil that was by it seemed to do very well, the tomatos that were already by it had other struggles to over come and didn't seem to benefit.

I now have 2 hot compost piles. Started the second one yesterday and added lots of mowed leaves to the one that's very near done, it has a nice earthy smell, good tilth and could probably be spread on the garden right now, but the garden is already well mulched so I'll continue to let it cook. I might still plant a cover crop, but I have lots of onions, carrots still in the ground, the rest of the garden is covered w/ compost piles. I posted pics in the wacko thread.

I also have a worm bin w/ a few lbs of reds+ a few lbs of encs. I plan on using vermicast for starting next years garden w/ homemade potting mix and also lots of home brewed teas.

Don't give up.

Bob


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 29, 08 at 8:36

Sorry kentstar, no rudeness was intended, the rats and cats and elephants come from the chorus of a song by the Irish Rovers.

Some people have issues with various wildlife and a tumbler can be a way to deal with animal issues.

I sincerely apologize if I offended you, it was not intended. Obviously my attempt at humor needs some work.

Lloyd


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Having done the apology...

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 29, 08 at 8:53

Composting is not for everyone, it has been my experience that composting and all of its idiosyncrasies is like beer, you either like it or not. (And if you do like it, you like it a lot, check out the wacko thread!)

I have numerous people in town who would rather just send their materials out to me to have it composted and pick up some compost when it's done and when they need it. I have had people try composting and really get into it but that number you could count on one hand, maybe two. Hence my suggestion to see if there was somebody local that one could talk to and see what is involved. Spending a large amount of $$ on a unit that may or may not do what is intended can be an expensive way to discover that one is not a "compost enthusiast".

Lloyd


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

Understood Lloyd. Sorry too :)


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

Best composter i have used so far is

www.speedycompost.com

they ship all over the us


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If I were a rich man....

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 1, 08 at 16:45

If I had unlimited funds....

Neat

Neater

Neatest

How cool would that be!
Lloyd


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

I have used a tumbler 1.5 years and mesh bins four years. The tumbler is not used any longer. It sits rusting in the back yard, none of my composting neighbors wants the thing.

The mesh bins are easier on my back (with a compost fork to turn them), hold more, work better in the winter, etc.

If you read the long 150 item tumbler thread (using the 'Search' feature) you can read by side-by-side comparison I wrote.


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

Check out Craigslist, that is where I got a brand new one for less then half the price. I am happy with mine for what it does. It is a Back Porch Compost Tumbler. No crank to break or rust out and just big enough for all the table scraps.

As I said in the other tumbler post, I have developed a bad back so turning compost is easier in a tumbler for me then turning a pile with a pitchfork. I put in all my kitchen and food scraps in it. I use to have a problem with animals so I had stopped putting that in my compost until I got the tumbler. I am way out in the country and we have every kind of animal you can name including HUGE wood rats.

I had compost piles in all shapes and sizes for over 20 years. DH built me a 2 bin wooden one - too big, so we now use it to store fire wood. Next was a 4'x4' chicken wire round one where we put leaves, clippings and garden cleanup. It gets turned by DH once or twice a year. I also got one of those black plastic triangle tower ones from our county waste management. That is where the finished compost goes. It has a door on the bottom so I can shovel out what I need. The 3 different composts system works for me.
Clare


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

Check out Craigslist, that is where I got a brand new one for less then half the price. I am happy with mine for what it does. It is a Back Porch Compost Tumbler. No crank to break or rust out and just big enough for all the table scraps.

As I said in the other tumbler post, I have developed a bad back so turning compost is easier in a tumbler for me then turning a pile with a pitchfork. I put in all my kitchen and food scraps in it. I use to have a problem with animals so I had stopped putting that in my compost until I got the tumbler. I am way out in the country and we have every kind of animal you can name including HUGE wood rats.

I had compost piles in all shapes and sizes for over 20 years. DH built me a 2 bin wooden one - too big, so we now use it to store fire wood. Next was a 4'x4' chicken wire round one where we put leaves, clippings and garden cleanup. It gets turned by DH once or twice a year. I also got one of those black plastic triangle tower ones from our county waste management. That is where the finished compost goes. It has a door on the bottom so I can shovel out what I need. The 3 different composts system works for me.
Clare


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

OK, I have posted this before, but I use a variety of options and areas, and what I use for kitchen waste is 2 large plastic garbage cans (with lids ) with a lot of small ventilation holes. With this method, I "cold compost" (although sometimes it gets hot): I don't turn it except after it's all full and sitting aside, I might once in a while use my compost turn-whirlie thing in it, but the 2 cans lets me fill one, drag it aside ( I do have a kind of hidden area for these). Along with the kitchen veggie stuff I add just enought shredded paper, ripped up small boxes, maybe toss in some of my shredded leaves if needed for more dry stuff--the point is not to fill one can faster than the other can break down, so try to maximize its use for kitchen garbage. Can 1 does not turn completely to compost before I have to empty it, but may be partially cooked, and may have to cure somewwhere--either in the real compost pile or, you'd be surprised at how you can put partiall compost in some garden areas, start a new bed, or whatever--cover that with shredded leaves and in another month or 2, all is compost.

I like the garbage cans because we have seen racoons, possums, and yes rats, out here in suburbia, and I don't put fruit and veggie material out in an open compost bin--only leaves, grass, plant trimmings and so forth.


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

Good to see everyone out n about and enjoying their gardens! I have been composting for quite a few years now. I actually used to just manage with a 44 gallon drum, saved the scraps in a sink trap in the kitchen and used too walk down the backyard and drop them in, never used any meats, only vegie and fruit scraps and peels. It used to make a great compost too, along with a bit of soil and horse manure from time to time. It lasted many years but the steel eventually corroded at the bottom so we had to upgrade.

We decided to go for an above ground rotating style compost bin. We wanted to stick to steel but have it allot higher so we didn't have to put any strain on our backs. We ended up going with the Easy Composter. It's a compost tumbler that sits about 3+ foot from the ground, easy to rotate, no strain on the back, slightly more expensive but worth the cost for us. Still looks solid too so I'd say this will easily outlast my home made version!

There are so many composters around these days, cheap ones on ebay too, I guess it comes down to personal preference and if you want it lasting in the future. I included the link if anyone is keen to check it out.

All the best!

Here is a link that might be useful: Here the link to Easy Composter


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RE: Best Compost Tumbler

I love the Compost Tumbler, I have 2. But today my barrel rolled off of it's frame and landed on the ground. I probably put it on uneven ground, but, it will surely be a pain in the butt putting things back to the way they should be, emptying the barrel and putting it back on track. The 2nd one is doing good still, though.


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