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How do you use a compost tumbler?

Posted by Panspipes zone 5-ish (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 11, 05 at 3:15

I didn't want to waste people's time with such an obvious question, but I looked all through this site and I can only find bits & pieces of how to use them. I think I'm the only person in here who got mine free/used and with absolutely no instructions. I get the jist of composting. It's this tumbler that mystifies me. I assumed I could just feed it my spent flowers, stems, and leaves, throughout the season and give it a crank once in a while. Am I to understand that I have to fill it all at once and turn it every day? Every day?! I read that some people add dirt, but I've always heard not to put dirt in your compost pile. Could I put worms in it or would that just cook them? I'm supposed to water this thing? How much? Thank you for your time. Kelly


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Yes you are suppose to fill it all at once, however I don't do that. I have the double tumbler and I do add a big bag of leaves to start it with then start adding buckets of kitchen stuff. Garden stuff will also work. Right now mine is kind of on the frozen side, hope to get out there and check on it today and hope it is thawed enough to turn. Yes you will need to turn it daily. NO don't add dirt, no need to. And please do not put worms in there, if you don't cook them the tumbling will kill them. I have added rods in mine to help mix the stuff inside. Here are some photos for you.

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The white things in the last photo are bits of paper that I used for a brown in that batch.

Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Wow, thanks. I have the exact same tumbler only mine is a single. So uh,... we're cranking these bad boys even during the winter, huh. pffff. I'm SO making a pallet composter. Now watch. I'll get it working, fall in love with it, and become one of you compost nutballs. ;) Ohhh-Kayyy. Gonna go put on my coat and boots now. Gotta go turn the compost. Oi-vay.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

You only need to turn it if it isn't frozen solid. Mine thawed today so I gave it a nice turn.
Be careful if it is frozen, it could damage it when you turn it.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Sandy, that's great to show a picture of the rods. Good job! Had a good adviser? That's the one more engineering change needed to make them work at their best. They convert a tumbler into a mixer which is what you want. Those rods slice through the material and swirl it around. Perfect! According to the manufacturer, they nixed the idea since they rust out quickly. Dunno about that since I installed mine in 1998, second year of use, and they are still solid. They could damage the shell if everything was frozen. If the rods were severely bent, they'd pull the sides in. That's not a big issue with the small ones but would be with the big one. Regardless, that's the only way to go to get the maximum effectiveness out of a tumbler.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Martin, Yep good teacher and a great husband that took a few stainless steal rods from the scrap bin at work, had the shop at work thread each end. They will never rust, so said the hubby. When I gave it a tumble today I noticed that the side nearest the crank didn't sound right. I put a deer leg in there that the neighbors dog found. It is cut off right above the first joint up from the hoof/ankle. Well it was sitting across the two rods and for some reason this was clogging it up. I did break that side up good with a stick and it was steaming nicely.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Hi Panspipes...it may be simple minded to suggest this...but I'm going to anyway...:-) Why not look at your tumbler...get the name and model number...look up the company on the internet... and see if you can't get some instructions on how to use it... free or for a modest price. Franklin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

If Kelly has one like Sandy only a single compartment, it would probably be one of the smaller two from ComposTumbler. The medium one is 76 gallons and the small one is 37 gallons. The Mantis twin one actually is very close to the quantity of the ComposTumbler medium size except divided in halves. Even the smallest, at 37 gallons, is 7 gallons bigger than a 30-gallon Rubbermaid container, as often suggested. If one works, then the other has to also work!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Thanks Oldmainer. I didn't even think of that.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

My tumbler surprised me the past few days. After the contents being frozen for a month, we had several days when the temps got into the 30s. Dumped some kitchen scraps into it yesterday and poked it with a bamboo cane. Didn't seem too solid so I slowly began turning it. I could hear everything inside shifting so I completed a turn. Ended up giving it 6 or 7 more turns to mix the month's worth of scraps real good. Today, more scraps to go out and then a few more turns. When the door was opened to see what everything looked like, nice wisp of steam came out. It's either had a warm core since Thanksgiving or started again just from the few warm days. I was almost tempted to add more liquid but all of the snow around here reminded me that this is winter! Plenty of time to do that in March.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Here in Albuquerque we are having a long stretch of 50+ degree days. My compost in the tumbler is dry. I have some aged manure mixed with shredded paper. Should I add any water, or wait until spring? The pile doesn't seem to be heating up at all.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I know, it's tempting with everything dry and loose. Adding water now depends upon what you expect for temperatures for the next month. You don't want everything to be sopping wet and then have some record lows. Freezing and expanding water can end up with something broke or cracked. You could probably add just enough to lightly dampen things but not the normal good soaking. I wouldn't expect a full 14-day heat cycle at this time of year.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Mine is really steaming today! It was just waiting for enough moisture accumulation and about 48 hours of above-freezing temperatures. (Our high for Dec-Jan so far has been 38.) The moisture was from various sources without my adding any. Originally it was snow-melt plus whatever was in the kitchen scraps. Now several rainy days have added a little more. As soon as there is a working core, the rising steam further distributes the moisture. That also will draw water from the humidity in the air.

Really torn now as to the next step. I want it to heat up but I don't want it to finish yet. I do have a 50# feed sack full of dry pigeon loft droppings that could go in for a massive nitrogen kick. That may be done yet before this day is over. As long as I don't add any water, I should be OK with just what moisture is in there.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Since we had a tumbler question asked on an un-related thread, I'll bring this thread back to the front. Since it involves the same winter batch for several of us, some may appreciate an update.

7 weeks later, looking great today. This was after enduring a week where we first had over a foot of snow to cover everything and followed by -17F several mornings ago. Temperature managed to get up to 28F yesterday and today under full sun. Snow was melted off the tumbler and some had dripped in since I leave the door positioned near the top. After adding almost a week's accumulation of kitchen scraps, I decided to see what would happen if I tried turning it. After about a half turn, I could hear the material shift so I knew that it wasn't a big frozen chunk on the bottom. Three more turns and I looked in and was greeted by lovely steam again. This is another long batch which will never have a need for water added. It's getting enough from the kitchen scraps and what little gets in from melting snow.

Next problem will be what to do with it when it's done. With the previous two batches stored below it, no place for the nearly-full tumbler until something is used up.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Hi Martin, I added a 5 gallon bucket of kitchen scraps/newspapers yesterday. As far as I know mine has never frozen through. But I have mine where it gets full sun pretty much all day and that brown metal seems to help transfer the suns heat pretty well to keep it from freezing. At the start of winter I filled both sides with leaves, I packed them pretty well, and they were not really chopped, mowed over. When I went to dump this bucket both sides are now to half empty mark. Half empty, half full...
I gave it a good turn yesterday, will be out that way again today and will give it another good turn.
My kitchen bucket is always filled about half way with paper from the cross cut shredder.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Thanks Paquebot for the little lesson. I got my CT last August and so only had a little while to use it before everything shut down for the season. and actually, I don't think I realized how many different things can go into one of those babies. Somebody said they were even throwing their toothpicks in. Wow. Have I got a lot to learn. Think I'll start hanging around this forum some more. Have an idea that there's lots to be learned from y'all. TTYL
Patti


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Patti, when we say that "anything" can go into a tumbler, we do mean "almost anything". Whole small animals are OK but I would do deer heads in a separate pile! (Make too much noise flopping around in there!) I do have 20 deer lower legs on hand but they'd create quite a tangle sent through in one batch. However, I may simply saw them in half and run them all through the next hot batch.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

There are a couple people again asking about tumblers so I am kicking this one up. I love mine as it is so easy to use.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by
    organic-kiki Zone 6
    (gw:organic-kiki) on
    Thu, May 11, 06 at 10:59

Mine is by Home & Garden Innovations and is 7 cubic feet. It is new and has the first batch in it.....after 1 week it is up to 80 degrees.....should I add nitrogen for more heat or just leave it alone? I hear you all talking about deer parts....I know mine is not big enough for that, but what about dairy and small bones and such that are generally not adviced for compost? I don't care so much if I need to leave it longer than advertised if I could use ALL my kitchen scraps instead of just some.....what do y'all say?
Kiki


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Dairy and small bones? Dairy products are merely bones in different forms! Chicken bones seem to break down in time but turkey leg and thigh bones eventually often end up being "planted". Beef ribs and pork ribs break down fairly well in a single heat cycle. As long as a bone is opened up, its deterioration is rather rapid. And, I would not think of any tumbler batch as being complete without at least one young rabbit and 2 or 3 pigeons. They simply vanish within a week!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by
    organic-kiki Zone 6
    (gw:organic-kiki) on
    Sun, May 28, 06 at 14:07

I'm still having trouble getting it to heat up higher than 85. I noticed it leaking some liquid and found out that my husband has been adding his own nitrogen. I tried to direct him to the compost on the ground.....it is staying between 110 and 120 and has a covering of shredded leaves over it.......don't you think the extra liquid nitrogen would be better there than in the tumbler?
Thanks,
Kiki


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I purchased a used Compact Compost Tumbler about 2 1/2 weeks ago. After raiding my friends leaf and grass pile with my leaf blower/vaccum, I loaded it up and hosed it down. I turned it every morning before leaving for work and after 15 days I had some really nice compost. I got this tumbler at a steal. I'm keeping my eye open for another one. I'm going to take some pics of my next batch to post.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I note that another thread some ignorants have made some false comments about the liquid which drips out of a tumbler. It appears that when it leaches into the groundwater via compost piles, that's fine and good. When we collect it in 5-gallon pails, it's no good! BS! That's concentrated liquid fertilizer and excellent stuff when mixed with water at the recommended 20:1. I do 14:1 and it's better than a lot of commercial liquid fertilizer concentrates.

This brings us a point which should be stressed again. Moisture requirements in a tumbler are not the same as in a pile. Since it is a closed system, you need less. I only want it barely damp and prefer any liquid needs come from greens. If I put in 10 pounds of fresh green material, I think of that as being a gallon of liquid. Those 10 pounds of greens could serve 100 pounds of browns quite well!

Anyone know the liquid percentage of a rabbit? Two of them in the present tumbler batch!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Hi Martin, Thanks for the ratios of water to drippings. I have a hose end sprayer that is for the MG type products and am thinking about using that. I figure what the heck, I don't think it could hurt much.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

The human body is about 65% water- so I guess that a rabbit is pretty close to that.

I turned my (ground) pile that I put a woodchuck in maybe 5 days before, and a squirrel maybe 2 days before- both were well on their way to disintegration.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Thanks, Pablo! I figured that there had to be some potent juice involved with the rabbits. Son culled some of the roller pigeons today as well. He times that with whenever I have a good hot batch going. Eventually, all I'll find are the leg bands!

Past two batches have been almost too wet despite zero water added. With about 5" of rain in May, the grass was virtually water standing on edge. The liquid is almost running out now rather than drips. I'm collecting close to a gallon per day right now and storing it in gallon jugs. Most is now being saved for some of my tomato projects. In one garden, there are 34 plants over 5 gallons of 50/50 compost and soil. 16 plants into compost-laden soil in another plot. 24 are simply into ground which was a quack grass and timothy hayfield last year. 5 went into a plot today where a lot of wood chips managed to get incorporated into the soil this spring. I'm considering that tumbler liquid as being my cheap version of Miracle Grow. Just waiting for the root systems to become more developed so that the plants can better handle it. Whatever portions of NPK are potentially fugitive in the latest two batches, it's trapped within plastic jugs now. We already know that it's super stuff when used in already-rich soil. Now I'll be able to see what it does in soil containing very low humus percentage.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Can you send some of that rain to Texas please? We're on watering restrictions :-(

Rabbits huh? Put a turkey and about 50 pounds of venison through my hot pile recently and they lasted about three days leaving behind maybe 10 pounds of soldier fly larvae and a lot of larvae poop.

Had to address that whole "Must I turn it every day" comment. I am a hyperactive composter - playing around turning the pile is my little 'thinkin time' and I overdo it. You are better off letting it cook and go through heat up, cool down, fungus etcetera and then crankin it back up.... unless you like turning it in which case screw it, turn that bad boy.
In order to get the right amount of heat to kill pathogens and weeds you want volume - a full tumbler will give you enough volume to get hot, a 1/4 full one won't.

heat matters, still killing weeds from that first batch of compost a few years ago that never got hot enough.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 8, 06 at 22:33

sigh... I just order a compost tumble, it havent arrive yet, but i have read some negative post about using compost tumble on certain article published on the web.

Some said it doest break down as find as compost pile on ground, some said the microganism does't have enough oxegen and can't perform well, some even said that compost tumble doesnt connected with the ground, so the 'workers' cannot move up and down freely.

Can some one tell me that I did the rihgt investment? I am going to use this expensive plastic container for my entire life....


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Just started my big roller with bunny doo and hay/dirt mix. Wondering if I should bulk it up with more hay. Seems like a heavy load as is. Maybe some grass clippings would be a better choice. Any guesses? Thanks


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Organicrepublican, you've blended a mixture of pile and tumbler comments together into a confusion! Your advice regarding turning it is totally in error. You seem to know a little about a tumbler but apparently very little! Advising to allow it to heat up and cool down before turning is incorrect for a tumbler. The instructions which state to turn it daily are given for a reason. Listening to advice contrary to that is one of the main reasons why some people do not enjoy the great success that others have with tumblers. Just like baking a cake. If you don't follow the recipe, be prepared for something else to come out of the oven!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 9, 06 at 1:46

Daily?GREAT!! I thinking to turn it 3 times a day if that microbat wont get dizzy... i think that is a good exercise!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 9, 06 at 7:24

O! Btw, can we mix the ingredient like - 75%brown AND 25%Green in the compost tumbler? cos the intruction guide showing me it should be 75%LAWN/GREEN and 25%BROWN! If that is the case, I am in trouble using it, where can i get lawn for 75%????

Anybody have good result from the first mixture?

OR IS UP TO OUR IMAGINATION AND PATIENT?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

weew, your first batch I would put in a shovel full or two of soil, rich soil would be best. After this batch the inside walls will be coated with herd to jump start the next batch. Lawn I guess they are talking about grass clippings. But that much grass clippings(75%) to browns(25%) will end up being a wet, slimy and stinking mess. I would do the browns around 75% to grass clippings of 25%. However I don't bag my grass anymore. For a couple reasons, one I don't want any extra work on my part. Second I started to do that this year and quickly seen my lawn turn brown and start to die. Stopped bagging and now my grass is greening up again and really looking much better.
So my source of greens are kitchen scraps, or if I really need a boost I run over to the horse barn.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 9, 06 at 9:08

Hi Sandy,
Thanks for sharing your info and experience. I am order something call "tumbleweed compost bin", and I can easily get few bags of dry leaves, few bags of kitchen waste(from near by restaurant) and tons of rabbit manure, but not grass clipping. If that compost bin is just for GRASS, I am in wrong choise!

Above material is so easiy to get accept grass clipping!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

weew, yep go with the other greens and you will have a nice compost, grass is not the only green out there. Lucky you to get rabbit manure. You can however just spread that out on the garden as fertilizer.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 11, 06 at 8:28

I was just call few of my friend who have large field to reserve of they grass clipping for me when it is READY...

I was thinking, if my compost is half cook(maybe 60% cooked), can i just add in the grass clipping and let it cook together? since grass clipping will break down as fast as 3 weeks, i think it will be good to put them in then wasted...


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, if you have a good batch already cooking and which started out 75/25 brown/green, addition of more grass is not always a good thing. Then there is too much free ammonia and the material becomes anaerobic. That is, much of the beneficial bacteria are killed and you'll end up with a sodden stinky mess. The sodden part comes from the grass having so much additional water while the other material can not absorb any more liquid.

I almost suspect that your eventual problem will be a lack of convenient brown material in an area of perpetual summer. That is sometimes a problem in tropical areas. Often, marketable material such as coconut fiber/coir is used if other woody matter is not available. Whatever is used, it must be able to absorb considerable moisture or you'll get the mess that both Sandy and I predict if too much green material is used.

Also, you have expressed concern about placing the tumbler in the shade or sun. Mine started in nearly full sun 10 years ago. Since then, it slowly went to full shade when a mulberry tree grew over it. The tree was eliminated this spring and I see no difference in results either way. Your tumbler will either be black or dark green, as I recall. Those colors will indeed absorb more heat from the sun. I do think that that is an advantage with the smaller tumblers. For larger ones, experience says that I don't think that it would make much difference in your climate.

Another question that you had was about adding water to the tumbler. If you have what Sandy suggests, 25% fresh grass clippings, the answer is no. As soon as the material begins to heat up and gets above ambient air temperature, some of the moisture in the grass begins to attempt to escape in the form of steam. That steam will be absorbed by the brown material and that process will continue until no more can be absorbed. Any remaining liquid then becomes surplus and seeks its own level which is down. Then you begin to see the extra liquid dripping out the bottom. If you must err on the amount of liquid, err on the low side. Not enough liquid is much better than too much.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 13, 06 at 5:30

Wow...thanks for the details of your fine explaination, i can understand it very well.

It seem like commercial tumbler and open pile compost have quite lot of difference method, that is moisture. The seller told me, the dryest it can be, the faster it compost! Huh? that is sound funny to me, but after reading much about using tumbler for composting, i realise that the heat capture inside the tumbler will do the 'moisture' job, as mastin said : "As soon as the material begins to heat up and gets above ambient air temperature, some of the moisture in the grass begins to attempt to escape in the form of steam." That's something I did think of.

The word "composting" is not new to me, but in the fact,practically, that is new. I live in a tropical country, and is worm, hot and humid all year.

I also learned alot of growing tomato method/knowledge through tomato forum, your guys are EXPERT! and eventually, I am now have very successful growth of cherry tomato at my back yard. Everytime my friends visit me will said : HUH? tomato? how can it growing here...."!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, you are a good student and are learning well! So few here use a tumbler successfully and have a difficult time separating the rules for pile composting and tumbler composting. It needs much less moisture for a tumbler to work properly versus a pile. That's because whatever liquid is originally present will remain within the system. You will learn how to do it. There will be errors in the beginning but nothing is so terrible as to be a total loss.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I have a ComposTwin (the large divided tumbler) and I always that you were supposed to turn it about every three days once it is full so as to give it enough time to heat up before turning again. It's been awhile since I read the instructions, but I have been using this method and it does seem to be working. Maybe it depends on what you've got in there?

Anyway, this is a great thread. Very informative!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 24, 06 at 4:13

Finally, I received my EXPENSIVE PLASTIC BIN!!! TOOOOO EXPENSIVE... I can't believe our local custom tax me for the item like crazy...I calculated the total cost of the compost bin is US$300.00!!!!!!( 58 Gal )!Just like I am buying tiny piece of land for composting!

Just started putting in the ingredient, and also the right timimg for my neighbors doing grass clipping! I collect few bags of grass clipping and add a bags of dry leaves, 500gram banana skin, an rotten apple, 1.5KG of fresh rabbit manure,some Chinchilla manure and few pieces of shred newspaper. I am wondering what it will turn out!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

OUCH! 333 BUCKS for a garbage can size plastic composter?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by rayama 7b, Alabama (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 29, 06 at 11:35

I have the middle sized compostumbler. What is involved in adding those rods? What sort of tools do I need?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Installation of metal rods in compost tumbler:

Drill 5/16" holes opposite each other at the widest part. For most tumblers, 2 rods should be sufficient so space them equidistant from the ends to divide the compartment into 3 sections. Using 1/4" threaded rod, cut it an inch longer than the distance between the front and back, having only 1/2" sticking out. Use washer and nut on both ends to secure it in place.

I have the large Compost Tumbler and have the 2 rods. In the past I may have said that 3 might be better but any more than 2 would probably cause more trouble than they are worth by getting clogged with longer weeds, grasses, etc. I believe that all whom I have advised has gone with the 2 rods with great success.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I read through all the posts but got very little information of use to me. I have a 55gal. steel drum that my son-in-law turned into a tumbler. I will be grateful for answers to the following questions. I am sure others will find the information useful.

1. How full do I fill the tumbler?
2. Can I keep adding new stuff at any time?
3. How long must I wait before I start tumbling?
4. How many turns should I do for each tumble?
5. How long between tumbles?

Thank you.

Sengyan


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

1. Initially fill 3/4 to 7/8.

2. Yes you may keep adding material if you intend to not dump it until at least a week to 10 days later.

3. Tumble as soon as everything is in it to thoroughly mix it.

4. 6 turns at one session does the best job of mixing and aerating the material.

5. 24 hours between tumbling sessions.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I have the twin tumbler in the photos above. I put in my browns first, find sawdust or shreaded paper works best for me. I don't have huge access to leaves and find they take to much work to get them ready for the tumbler as whole leaves take way to long to compost down in there so I use them as mulch in the garden. I then add buckets of kitchen waste and garden weeds till I feel like I have added enough greens. This is over several weeks time.
Each time I add I turn the tumbler anywhere from 3 times on up, depends on how much time I have.
I dumped out my first batch the other day and spread it around some pepper plants that wouldn't grow. The plants next to them were huge and starting to produce while these just sat there. Well they really have enjoyed the mulch of compost as they have added new leaves and are now starting to bloom. I will be dumping a second batch next week and will spread that on another bed of peppers that won't grow. Note to self, thick layer of sawdust for mulch is not good for pepper plants.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 1, 06 at 11:13

I agreed with what sandy said about the leaves that take longer time to breakdown, cos when I open my tumbler today to check about "what is happening inside", I realise the grassclipping is begin to breakdown, the kictchen waste and some paper, but not the leaves. I also notise that rabbit manure is hard to break down as well, I was planning to pound it into powder form before i throw it into the tumbler to fasten the decomposting in next batch.

Even i have cut the leaves into smaller pieces but it still look like nothing happen on the leaves. I dont have any garden shredder/mower, and not think of invest any.
I really wish to get a good result out of this batch.

Weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by pt03 2b Srn MB (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 2, 06 at 14:55

1) Mix, tumble, moisten as I fill right to the top and then some. I stuff it full on intitial filling.
2) Add more browns after 2 days after it has settled (sometimes up to an extra 40 gallons of stuff), daily tumble begins now.
3) I usually wait til the temperature gets to 55 Celsius then tumble twice a day if I remember.
4) Never really counted :) but usually tumble until the contents rolls smoothly inside the drum.
5) At least daily sometimes twice a day. After 14 days in tumbler, remove contents to a curing bin and start all over again. I prefer to batch compost with this unit.

My tumbler is homebuilt so may not be similiar to the commercially manufactured ones.

Here is a link that might be useful: My homebuilt tumbler


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 2, 06 at 22:59

Curing bin? what is that? Is it you let the finish compost to 'stay' there, till the useable stage?

And, WOW.......your compost tumbler look really COOL.... I and going to make one like yours.:D


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Thank you Paquebot. You've given me the info I needed to start using my tumbler.

Sengyan


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Mine is the same as the one in the pic at an early post.

I live in arid 37-40 Celcius temperatures. I have very little green, certainly no grass to add. Do I need to add water? If so, how often?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Strudlahead, assuming that your brown material may possibly only be leaves, and green material is very slow in accumulating, I'd not suggest adding much water. Tumblers and piles have different rules. The "damp as a squeezed sponge" applies for a pile sitting on the ground where excess soaks into the soil or evaporates into the air. Tumblers are a closed system and everything either stays there or is caught in a drip system.

With your situation, it may be best to start with your batch being very heavy on the brown side and just damp enough to say that it is not dry. Then just keep adding whatever green scraps as they come available from the kitchen. It will take longer to build up a large quantity of nitrogen but eventually it will happen. If all goes well, one day it will suddenly become hot and a proper heat cycle will begin. If it doesn't, it will still all break down but just take longer.

My current batch is now in at least its third heat cycle since I'm in no hurry to dump it. There was never any water added from the start although it did have real juicy grass as the first greens. This latest cycle seems to have been triggered by a lot of bolted lettuce and incidental trimmings and thinnings. Came at just the right time to cook the latest rabbit!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 5, 06 at 22:56

Can I know what is Curing bin mention by pt03?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, when the compost is dumped from a tumbler, it's not 100% finished and is usually quite damp. Although it can be used as is, it's better to allow big batches to simply finish quietly without any further help. That would indeed be "curing" although I call it "finishing". If there is no immediate need for the fresh compost, I like to let it sit about 3 weeks to slowly finish and dry. With the large Compostumbler, I have room for about 100 gallons in the area beneath it. There I have a plywood floor and 3 permanent metal sides. The front consists of two 12-inch planks to hold everything in.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 6, 06 at 1:50

Martin, I see. How do i know when should I remove it from the tumbler to let it 'curing' for 3 weeks? It is when the material cannot be recognise? or whenever the material is in the tumbler for 3-4 weeks, then I should remove it? I would like to create a curing bin also, can I just dump it in to a big plastic container and have holes ONLY AT THE BOTTOM? Cos in this case, I can create move batch of compost.

Weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

As described by paquebot, it is simply a place for the partially done compost to cure or finish. I'd rather use the tumbler for mixing/heating. I generally run a 14-20 cycle in the tumbler then into the curing bin for the rest of the summer. I have added a link to see the empty bin and there are also pictures of it with 'stuff' in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Curing Bin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Our you guys serious about putting small animals in compost?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I have done a few bunnies and they are gone when I dump out the tumbler. Granted I let mine go for a few weeks before I dump it. I also put in chicken bone and they seem to compost pretty quickly.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I keep my $350 CompostTumbler in the back yard as a way to remind myself:

1) I'n not the smartest person around
2) Investigate BEFORE buying

I do not use the tumbler at all.

I have six compost bins; all using 1/4" mesh hardware cloth, ranging from 18" to 24" high. Some are about 4' in diameter, others are 4'by 8'.

Reasons I prefer the mesh bins:
1) Price -- $12 versus $100-400
2) Assmebly time -- five minutes versus 3 hours (instructions said two hours, but it took me 3)
3) Better use of space -- bin holds more, especially if 3' high
4) Less work -- my compost fork can easily turn over a 18" or 24" pile. My tumbler craftily said you only have to rotate it 5 times. Ahhhh! but 5 rotations times 5 cranks means you turn the handle 25 times a day NOT five.
5) Mesh bin can handle materials like stinkly dead fish and rotten produce. The tumbler will smell with these materials, and may drip smelly liquid.
6) Less worry about breathing in nasty dusts and particles.
7) Better heat retention. Have you ever seen a tumbler four foot in diameter? Nope, you could not turn it.
8) Low profile big bin blends in better than a green piece of metal that starts to rust in one year.

Probably forgot a few, but you get the idea.

Bob Six year composter
Year one -- Jerry Baker plastic bin (waste of money)
Year two -- Compost Tumbler (waste of money)
Got on the internet.
Years 3-6 -- mesh bins (bliss!)
Spend some of the time I used to waste measuring CT ingredients on the scale on recommeding folks avoid tumblers.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

A pity that Bob indeed was/is what he said he was/is and not capable of getting beyond the bicycle training wheels! Because of that admission, I surely will not attempt to argue with a fool! (-;

Right now is when I really appreciate having given up the big compost pile area after the monster test pile in 2002 that we followed here. Nearly a 5-quart ice cream pail of black raspberries has been picked and just about half that waiting to ripen in a few days. With the compost area having always been about 12x12 since the first pile in 1963, that was 40 years of non-productive ground. This year, I've even got potatoes growing in my last round 4' wire bin for coarse stuff.

Belinda, composting small animals is no different than composting large animals. Remember that there were monster dinosaurs weighing many tons and they all composted very nicely long before Man existed. If they hadn't done so, imagine what a huge pile of them there would be after just a million years!

May I enter a claim to composting the smallest visible creatures? A scrawny rabbit of several weeks ago also had a large colony of fleas on him. (First time that I've seen them since 1955!) Tumbler batch was hot at the time so I'm reasonably assured that the fleas were quickly steamed.

The past few days, there's been no evidence of any critters after each turning session. This one has now had enough heat cycles to even have the chunky pigeon breasts break down entirely. For some reason, chicken has been on the menu once a week and all bones have also gone into the tumbler. From experience, I've found that every chicken bone will eventually break down in a hot batch. Only some turkey bones take a half the summer to disappear.

Present batch is staying in a lot longer than normal since I have no immediate need for it. Most of that reasoning is that I have other mulch uses for the grass clippings from several lawns. With so many "critters" in this batch, I dearly want to save it for my planting hole mix next spring. Unlike my winter batch, this one didn't start out to be a specialty batch but turned out that way.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Poor Bob. I personally love my tumbler and have put some pretty smelly things in there and have never had a smell issue with it. Even the drippings were never all that bad. Granted the drippings I use up pretty quick when I get some. I have learned tons from Martin on how to use my tumbler. Since then I am having great results from it.
Sandy-who needs to dump a side of my twin tumbler today....


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

This is my newest tumbler my DH made for me this past week. It has a bar through the middle and a couple of blades. I added a bunch of shredded newspaper but they have wrapped themselves around the bar. (Note to self, tear newspaper into smaller pieces before shredding).

There is another tumbler in the corner behind the crepe myrtle. It is a plastic drum on bearings which I push to roll.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 9, 06 at 0:13

I am new owner of a compost tumbler, I certainly believe if tumbler doesnt work, it will be gone LONG in the market, and not be able to survive the competition of old method of compost pile. Even I have not see great result or compost from the tumbler i have, the ingredient in the bin is about 13days, but the bin still feel hot to touch and should be cooking inside.

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I still can CLEARLY see those grass clipping,leaves,and rabbit manure but I can't see my apples, fruit waste or peels that i throw into the bin.

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About the dripping, I only manage to collect 100ml,I dilute it to 15:1, WOW! My peppermint is growing greener and larger leave! I am sure that liquid thing must given a boost to my plant.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

My point is not that tumblers don't work; rather they are more work and more expensive than a simplier method.

If anyone has had two years or more experience with both a tumbler and a large bin, and still prefers the tumbler, best wishes to them. I hope those with tumbler experience only will try a second method for comparision. My two years with the tumbler were very frustrating. I spent a lot of time and effort dragging the ingredients inside to weight for the best C:N ratio.

Much of my knowledge came from this forum, and I tried to give back a bit by writing two of the FAQ articles on composting.

I hope you don't mind a divergent view. The last time I was on the forum, three years ago, the ratio was over 50% negative on tumblers.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I personally don't produce enough greens for a big bin. I don't bag my grass. I have had bins in the past and they just don't work out for me. But to each their own.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Robert, this thread was a question about how to use a compost tumbler. Kelly wanted to know how to make one work. It was not a request to report a failure or inability to learn how to best use a tumbler. It's not any of our faults that you were somehow unable to make it work. Remember that I'll cut down more trees with an axe than you can with a chainsaw any day. Just don't bother expending the effort required to pull that starter cord! I might also add that some of the stated reasons for failure are totally in error. Both of us knowing it is sufficient!

I've decided to run mine through one more heat cycle just to make certain that the last rabbit and his friends get a good cooking. Fuel this time is mainly potato vines which still had a good degree of green left in them despite being done. Also a good pile of onion stalks and leaves from cleaning out a 3x4 tangle of Heritage Sweet multipliers. All went through a bagging mower to be shredded into small bits. 5 or 6 tumbler turns had it well distributed and it will be cooking tomorrow.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

A tumbler works for me. I'm 5' and a tumbler allows me to turn and mix my pile faster and with less work.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by
    organic-kiki Zone 6
    (gw:organic-kiki) on
    Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 10:41

I am not adding info, but once again asking questions. After all my whining about the tumbler not working I think I am happy with the results. It seems that suddenly I realize that the contents of the tumbler had changed. Now I may be wrong, but I am thinking of dumping it and covering it with chopped leaves for later use. Am I wrong in thinking that it is not going to be completely finished, but usable.....is that why you speak of the curing period?
I did use oak leaves that were not shredded. Next time I will use shredded leaves and I think I will put more 'stinky' stuff in here rather than on the ground. I did catch the squirrels digging through the compost on the ground eating corn. If these things are in the tumbler animals cannot reach them and I can add more carbon if too smelly. Sound okay?
Thanks,
Kiki


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I, too, have struggled with my tumbler. I have a bin system as well (and do a modified lasagna at the end of the season, as well as a worm bin system for kitchen waste). No matter what I do, the tumbler results in slimy, stinky soft-ball-sized lumps of material that, even when mixed with bin-finished compost, dry into hard clumps that don't break down for a season.

That being said, I KNOW what the problem is.

1. I need more browns. The ratio has to be higher brown to green than in an open system. Each time I do a new batch I increase the browns, to see if it will help. Each time it's a little better.

2. I need to turn it more often. USually I turn it once a day for the first week, then when I remember it... which isn't often enough.

3. In the first week, I need to monitor it and add more browns as needed.

That being said, I do plan to continue with it. My bin system is cold and slow, and I don't turn it, so the only way for me to compost weeds to give me a satisfaction that they are gone is to hot-compost them. The tumbler does that very well. But as one poster already said, it's definitely not as easy as "pile it up and let it rot."


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

There has often been points made where tumbler results were not as one expected. Immediately, everyone then rushes to blame the tumbler. Stop and go back and see how many threads pertain to piles which were not as one expected. Does one then blame the pile or the person who made the pile? If your car runs out of gas at 2AM while 20 miles from the nearest gas station, should you get out and beat on the car? That seems to be the mentality of some here in regards to tumblers!

The results from a tumbler are just as varied as those from any pile. No two tumbler batches are identical just as no two piles are identical. There is no prescribed EXACT formula for either systems, only suggestions for the applicable C/N ratios. Often, suggestions for a pile are not the same for a tumbler and v.v.

The longer I use my tumbler, the more I find that it will get results with certain C/N ratios which are not feasible with a pile. Because of the quick draining of excess moisture, one can half it almost 50/50 green/brown and have it quickly compost. My present batch surely has gone from mostly browns to mostly greens since only green material has been continually added for over a month. Steady dripping today from the addition of about 15 gallons of green material several days ago. But there is also heat again. Too wet by tumbler standards but it will not be so in a few days of dripping. When it cools in about a week, out it comes for further curing and drying.

The "wrong" C/N ratios are possible only because it is a tumbler. Whereas a 30-gallon slug of fresh wet grass clippings would quickly become anaerobic in a pile, a tumbler allows it to be easily broken up and mixed throughout the composting material.

By the way, I did not turn out perfect batches in the beginning and don't believe that I ever have! The first few showed me that I wasn't dealing with a pile anymore and it might be wise to study the instructions and see if I missed some important paragraph. As soon as I realized that a tumbler could be even more flexible than a pile, I wondered why I hadn't bought one 20 years before!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 16, 06 at 22:05

Hey guys.... I am a bit of worry now...
The material in my tumbler seem like still look the same a week ago, nothing is breaking down, it been 3 weeks.

Moisture-ok, aeration-ok, material-still can recognise, tumbler- still hot due to under sunny position.

Is it I need to be more patient and wait for few more weeks? The only thing I notice is, all the material is getting darker and darker, but grass still grass, leave still leave, manure still look the same...

weew

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by
    organic-kiki Zone 6
    (gw:organic-kiki) on
    Mon, Jul 17, 06 at 10:26

I dumped the first tumbler full and layered it with some coffee grounds, unmunched leaves and kitchen scraps....I think last Friday.....now it is up to 110 degrees....may not be what others do, but I decided if I needed to cure it that it could help heat something else up, and it is.

I put shredded leaves, ucg, kitchen scraps and about 8 or 10 pounds of fish back in the tumbler. Did this on Friday, too. It was getting warm by Saturday. This morning the temp outside was 75 and inside the tumbler was 100 degrees.
After turning it is a bit stinky and after sitting it is not.
I haven't had any finished compost from a pile yet, but on the bottom of the piles I can see compost now.
I am happy.
Kiki


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, don't worry. It will never break down completely. Your brown/carbon material can only partially break down in that short time. But when it is breaking down, it is also absorbing the nutrients which were in the green material. It's the green material which contain most of the nutrients which end up in compost. Since the green material will break down to individual cells, the nutrients become fugitive. They will either leach into the ground or evaporate into the atmosphere. Composting allows them to be trapped in the empty cells of the brown material. They they are released slowly into the soil as the brown material breaks down. When that is broken down completely, it is totally inert with no food value and becomes only a temporary soil conditioner. So, you don't want to see something like is shown in various ads. You want to see that the green material has vanished from sight and is hiding in the brown material. At that point, it's considered unfinished compost just as any pile would be after going through a heat cycle. The compost can be then set aside to "cure" and evaporate some excess water or spread as surface mulch to also dry. If used as mulch, any nutrients which would normally leach out of a pile would leach into where you want them.

Now waiting for my darn tumbler to cool down so I can dump it! Smells great with the onion and garlic tops and leaves cooking away. I've got another 15 gallons of shredded garlic leaves and stems plus 15 gallons of lemon balm, catnip, chamomile, oregano, endive, and cilantro/coriander. Next batch is going to start out smelling like the finest kitchen! When thinning or weeding, everything is tossed onto the lawn to dry and then "processed" in a bagging mower. Smaller bits, quicker action.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 18, 06 at 1:00

Thanks Martin for your info. Then, its that mean when i can't recognise the green(grass clipping), it mean ready for curing bin for another couples of week to dry? OR can I mix them straight away with some soil and start to grow plant?

If I wounld like to have a COMPLETE break down of the brown material, how long I need to wait? another 3-6 months in the curing bin?

Weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, you got it right! To get any compost to break down almost to individual cells takes time and a lot of bacterial help. Tumbler composting breaks it down just enough so that it can go into the soil with a minimum loss of nutrients. Curing it is no different then a pile which has cooled down. A pile will go through a heat cycle and then cool down. A tumbler will go through a heat cycle and then cool down. The results would be the same were it not for fact that the second is indeed a tumbler. The tumbler will better mix the ingredients and add oxygen daily. With either system, the material can usually be safely used as mulch or incorporated into the soil as long as it has been through at least one heat cycle.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I have to agree with Bob 120%----------Yes this is a thread on how to use a tumbler--but I would also express my concern on a thread dealing with adding arsenic to coffee as a flavor enhancer. A compost tumbler is a toy that will sussessfully produce a fork full of compost every couple of weeks. It would be appropriate for any one with a yard under 1/8 acre. I own five acres and have set up four, 8 foot by 8 foot by 4 foot high railroad tie bins. I transfer the raw compost from one bin to the next every 3 weeks(final product in 9 weeks sits in last bin) My village gives away an endless supply of triple ground branches and leaves. A local landscaper gives me a pickup of grass clippings every wednesday. My piles are always smoking and compost is constantly spread throughout my vegetable and flower gardens and around my 500 trees. I was given a vertically mounted compost tumbler for xmas several years ago and I keep it near the back door in a small flower bed. I empty my kitchen waste into it every 3rd day or so and give it a kick. In a month or so it gets too heavy to turn and I empty the mess and haul it off to the real compost pile. The compost tea that leaks into my flower bed does cause the hollyhocks to tickle the space shuttle when in flight.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Forkful every few weeks? If I have the material, my tumbler can put out 80 gallons in just over 3 weeks! That's about the average load that I dump from mine.

5 acres? If I had 1,000 pounds of something to haul each day, I wouldn't buy a double-bottom Peterbilt! The system you use is what is needed to suit your personal situation. If you've only got a 25x25 corner garden, it would seem rather silly to set up four 8x8 bins and buy a International tractor with a 6-bottom plow. You make a simple pile or get a tumbler and buy a Mantis tiller.

County just north of me uses a similar system of an initial heat cycle and then a curing time. One difference is that they don't leave the material in the tumbler for the entire heat cycle. Their second heat cycle is after the material is out of the tumbler. That system is 8 weeks from start to finish.

Martin

Here is a link that might be useful: Big Tumbler Composting


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

This thread has now spanned the time when my tumbler has been used in different ways. In December, it was a time when daily or weekly kitchen scraps were added. Sort of a 5-month batch where it takes seemingly forever to get enough for that first heat cycle. Now it's batches which start out with a nearly full tumbler and rapid heating.

The latest is another example of why pile information does not always apply to tumblers. Two days ago, latest batch was dumped. That one had stayed in longer than normal to be certain that no pigeon or rabbit parts were visible in the finished product. There weren't any but I'll eventually find the plastic leg bands from the pigeons! Those critters had entirely vanished without a trace.

24 hours after starting the newest batch, I had 130F. 48 hours later, 160F. The material which went in was as follows. 60 gallons of finely shredded oak and maple leaves, somewhere around Wheaties size. 30 gallons of shredded garlic and onion tops and other green stuff. 30 gallons of mixed grass clippings and crabapple leaves from a neighbor. (Tree suffering from fire blight and "shedding"!) Finally, a 5 gallon pail of kitchen scraps, more onion and garlic trimmings, and incidental weeds. That's over 120 gallons and all wrong according to compost pile instructions. No 20:1 C/N ratio there, that's closer to 1:1 with just as much dry brown material as wet green material. And, not one drop of water was added to get to that 160F in 48 hours. In the end, there will be a shrinkage of about 33% but that still leaves 80 gallons of compost for curing or immediate spreading.

And to make certain that each of my batches contains some sort of critter, already have a half-grown rabbit cooking in it! It liked my garden so much that I'm making certain that it is there to enjoy it forever!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 23, 06 at 0:57

Today, Sunday, I once again open the tumbler and have a great look inside, hmm.... the ingredient is look liks 'many balls' in the tumbler, look like many of pigeon eggs. I add 5 litre of water into my tumbler, cos i am so desperate that why the manure is not breaking down.

From what i see now, the manure is 'wet' enough to breakdown, and have very small amount of dripping.

everything is shrunk, the full load of tumbler(100%), become 35% filled. Water play an important part. Next batch i will FLOAT IT!

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 23, 06 at 23:07

Hi folks,
Just want to show your the picture of the progress of my tumbler, a bit of disappointment, I dont know am I doing the right move, cause after I have added 5 litre of rain water, it tend to have "a bit" of smell. I have just added a very small amount of newspaper and FEW dried leaves.

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(2 weeks)

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(4 weeks)

Why the ingredient look like "many balls"?

weew:(


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, when your material began to break down, all of the green stuff became smaller particles, as witness the shrinking from 100% to 35%. Those have become attached to larger particles and now are being rolled into balls! Your rabbit manure should have broken down if there was enough moisture to create those balls. Rolling into balls like that indicate that it was too wet at one time.

At this point, with everything rolled into compost balls, I'd dump it and let it cure for a month. Then start over with a new batch. The Compost Tumbler type can also roll compost into balls if material is too wet and too fine. It's never been a problem for me since the rods were installed through it and I reduced the water. When I do make some compost balls, most break down in curing.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 24, 06 at 2:02

sigh... I will give couples of weeks to see what will be change, or else have to dump aside a start over again. I try to move the tumbler to to a position which expose to longer hours of sunlight. :(

When I put all the 'unfinish' compost in a curing bin, do I need to minitor the moisture or turn it once a week? or just LEAVE IT THERE!?

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew:

Don't worry about moving the tumbler around to get the most sunlight, the heat is produced by the composting process rather than the location.

It took me three or four times to get the temp up when I first got my tumbler. I shredded my leaves with a chipper/shredder and used fresh cut grass (sometimes twice cut). Now I use a lot of Starbucks used grounds also.

I use only large mesh bins now, as I got tired of dragging all my ingredients inside to weight them for the optimal C:N mix for the tumbler.

Your question about how often to add water and air and turn the material is the same for either a tumbler or bin. How much work are you willing to do, and how much of a hurry are you in? Many people who buy tumblers are encouraged by the 'compost in 14 days' type advertising.

If you are willing to wait two years; don't do anything. If you want compost in three months, you will have to learn a fair amount, shred quite a bit, and have a optimal mix. If you want compost in 14 days, my first book (recommended) called "Easy Composting", said just the cool-down period for compost was 30 days.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew:

Looking at your pictures is that the RotoTherm Tumbleweed Tumbler? If it is, the volume of that unit is advertised as 7-8 cubic feet. Your material appears to be below the pivot bar therefore it seems to me that you are less than half full. I have no experience with that particular unit, but the small drum unit I play with is not a fast composter. I add the kitchen scraps to it with a few handfuls of leaves, give it a few tumbles and leave it alone. It never really gets hot, just warmish, but the stuff does decompose as it never seems to fill up even though I add stuff every couple of days. I think it takes longer than my larger batch tumbler because the volume is so much smaller to begin with. I think the volume of your unit is too small for what you think it will do. It will eventully decompose, just not overnight. The ad for the Tumbleweed says "in a few short months", given the mostly embellished statements from manufacturers I would give it half a year myself.

Good luck


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I only open my twin tumbler when I have something to add to it. I add my browns in one lump sum and then add greens as I get them. It amazes me when I get the right balance all of a sudden the browns really change in a couple days. I try to rotate it every day but there are days that doesn't happen.
Today I checked it, browns are pine shavings, and the "yellow" browns have turned a nice shade of brown. So now I will switch to the other side, this round will be paper from the cross cut shredder.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 24, 06 at 23:13

I filled the bin 3 times to the top, it get really hot in the first 2 weeks, but is shrunk to what your see above. I filled it 3 times FULL LOAD! By the way, there is no more heat in the tumble, look 'cold'....

I have few questions..
1. If I pull out all the material and put it in a curing bin(for 1 month ONLY- cos i need to use it), do I need to monitor the moisture and turn it?

2. curing bin must be have whole ALL OVER or bottom only? (I am going to use a 12 gal container)

urgent! help! fresh material is coming in....!

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Always go easy on adding water initially. 9 times in 10, you don't need a drop. There's been Zero actual water added to any of my 2005-2006 batches. Always consider all normal green material as being 90% water. If you start out too wet with a tumbler, it's only going to get wetter as the green material breaks down. I'm not the least bit surprised that my latest batch is barely 4 days old and "water" is virtually running out of it. Onion juice! I can't recall when I actually used real water but it was probably 4 or 5 years ago. I do add urine now and then but usually no more than once a day. Otherwise, the only water that is needed is contained in the green material used.

I didn't like my first batch, either! Even wrote to the company and telling them what I used and what happened. They told me where I went wrong and I improved as I went along. Found that the more particular I was, by thinking of it as a compost pile, the worse it got. Different set of rules apply for a tumbler but it all leads to compost.

Batch that was dumped 4 or 5 days ago has rapidly settled to where it probably is closer to 70 gallons. Since I don't need it right now, it can sit there until the present batch is dumped. Since there is room for 2 batches to cure, that will simply sit on top of the previous one until needed. That will be late-September when it will all be spaded into the garlic beds. That will also be about when the following batch is dumped and probably spread at once for drying on the garden soil. Final batch of the year will again be a rich one and hopefully hot into November. That one will be dumped and sit all winter while the tumbler begins the winter batch with only dry shredded leaves. It all works out so perfectly without hardly trying!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 25, 06 at 0:03

Thanks Martin! I think I have to get ready for the next batch, I will leave this FIRST batch in a bin. sigh...:(

This time I will be more careful on adding water. I will continue add green materail every time is shrunk, maybe I will try to fill the bin 10 round this batch!(cos so many free grass clipping...)

I have also started a small heap somewhere outside my house, it look like they need more water! is cooking and is hot inside, the heap size is only 2' x 2'! even though i know the smaller must be 3'x3'x3, i dont dare to do that, cos is so big and massy when it get MASSY! I will turn twice a week for continuesly a month, then I will let it finish by it self for 2 more months. Hope this work.

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 27, 06 at 23:37

:( The "Compost Balls" in my tumbler, now become 'STINKS' balls... every time i tumble, i can smell the stinky, yucky smell... If I put them into curing bin, how long will it be 'finsih' or no stink"? 1-2months? The most important thing is, still useable?

weew:(


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

The "stink" will go away shortly after it begins to dry. May be only a week or so. The "stink" is from the fact that almost all of the gases have been trapped in the material. Much of that would be nitrogen which would have otherwise escaped into the atmosphere. Everything that was removed from that tumbler is quite usable right from the moment it comes out if one wishes to use it that way.

Remember the following:
Raw green material may be tilled in as green manure at any time.
Raw brown material may be tilled in as a soil conditioner at any time.
Any combination of the two would then qualify as fair game at any time!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 28, 06 at 1:36

Thanks again Martin. I open the lid and let it expose to sunglight, hope that I can dry it faster and CONTINUE TO TUMBLE without smell...by the way, i still can see grass wrap with the balls... Once I get new material(grass clipping) coming few day, I wilm REMOVE this batch! :(

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by lcpw z6 St Louis (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 28, 06 at 12:13

weew, when you remove the batch from the compost tumbler (to pile it in a heap somewhere), if you want to cut the smell immediately, you can cover the material with a layer of high-carbon material (e.g. sawdust, shredded leaves). The carbon kinda catches the stuff that is smelly (or, well, probably the carbon itself doesn't, but the bacteria that will be eating the sawdust or shredded leaves will tend to grab the smelly stuff out of the air 'cause they want to eat it too).

I can't remember if you have "browns" readily available.... I would imagine that shredded paper would blow away, but perhaps dampened shredded cardboard could work?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I have just read through this whole thing and have been giggling about a few things. I cant imagine dragging a bag of stuff over to a scale to weigh it to figure out how much of this to how much of that.I can understand how the first batch in a tumbler will go wrong but only because there is no build up of bacteria (benifical ones)inside of the tumbler.I am a firm believer in "if at first you dont succeed to try try again" and also the kiss method as in "keep it simple sluggo" (no one is stupid just unlearned).Now with that said best of wishes and please dont stop just because of something gone wrong.Just try it again. Oh yeah I do pile method but would like to try a tumbler just too cheap to build one or buy one.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 31, 06 at 23:04

After I 'failed' the first batch, now I learn that NO WATER WILL BE ADDED for the second batch! Water is important, but in a tumbler, if over load, IT CAN'T GO ANYWHERE BUT STAY.... and make your 'unfinish compost' stink like sh...it.... ;<
This round I manage to get a lot kitchen scrap and plan not to add water and wait to see what going to happen...

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Mikee, good advice. Too many distractions now and if a child doesn't succeed at something right away, there's always a ton of other things to try. But then, I got my first bicycle because of that. Brand new Schwinn when I was 9. Playmate fell off, threw a tantrum, and wouldn't get back on! His grandfather turned to me and said: "Martin, would you like to have that bicycle?" "YES SIR!" That playmate was Brandoch Peters. Google his name to find who gave me that bike!

Weew, welcome to those tumbler users who failed with the first batch. I've admitted many times that my first batch was definitely not to my liking. But every batch after that got better. I had composted in every other manner for over 30 years and most of that time from data in Rodale's big book. I found that I had to forget almost everything. Since the book didn't cover tumblers, I had to figure out why piles and tumblers were so different. It was the water and C:N ratio thing. Now I start a batch with 60 gallons of shredded dry leaves and at least 30 gallons of fresh green material. Instead of the ideal 20:1, that looks like 2:1. I consider 90% of that green material to be water. That would make the actual figures become 60:3, which just happens to be a 20:1 ratio! So, whenever you put green matter into the tumbler, consider it as green water.

Of course, the above applies to such a tumbler where the excess liquid is able to get out by draining or evaporation. If the majority of the liquid remains inside from start to finish, I would never try a 2 to 1 mix that is possible with mine. I'd start with the tumbler half full of dry brown material. Then I'd add daily kitchen scraps and incidental other green materials until "something" happens. By then, the tumbler would probably be about three-quarters full, about maximum for tumbling effectiveness. After a few of them, you'll learn what you can get away with when starting each subsequent batch.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Don't read further if you have a weak stomach. I was busy working elsewhere in the gardens yesterday when I noted my son walking to the tumbler with a 50# pigeon feed bag. He'd already checked to see if it were a hot batch or could handle whatever he had. At this hot time of year, when breeding slows, a feed bag usually means loft droppings from the nesting areas. That goes in no matter if the batch is hot or cold as it is quickly broken down.

Well, I noted that he was having trouble emptying the bag which looked like it may be half full. He finally asked to borrow my knife to cut it open to empty the contents. The rather smelly contents, I might add! He called it pre-composted material. It was about a dozen cull pigeons from his home flock and which had been "ripening" for a few days beside his loft! Two quick turns had everything folded somewhere into the hot material. I don't plan on turning that tumbler for at least a week. And I was concerned about the lone rabbit that had vanished in there!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Just a quick question...does the compost tumbler have to stop at the same position every time? Is there a "this side up" when the tumbling is completed? With my homebuilt one, I alternate so that no one part is left at the bottom each time.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

PT, I can see no reason to stop it at different positions. I always stop mine with the door positioned so that I can open it and pop in additional material. Were it positioned any other way, I'd have to drop whatever I'm carrying in order to get the door back on top. Original instructions called for positioning the door on the bottom but that only assures that the tumbler will receive at least a half turn when something is added and a bit more air flow.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

On my homebuilt tumbler I can get a "build up" of material on the walls. By parking it in various positions and leaving overnight I can come out, give it a tap and the material falls off allowing it to be mixed. By doing this I avoid a build up of material and moisture and also get a more thorough mixing of all the material.

I batch compost with mine and only add material at the beginning so door placement on a daily basis isn't an issue for me. I haven't used a commercialy built unit and wasn't sure if this (wall build up) was an issue or not.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

weew,

From the photograph, It looks like you are not using enough dry brown leaves in your tumbler. It looks mostly green with too much grass. What do you think, Martin?

John


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

The photos of 9 July do indeed look like the material may have been too heavy with grass clippings. However, tumblers are much more forgiving than piles when it comes to that. In a pile, too much green material may quickly become anaerobic. Tumbling avoids that problem. A trade-off is that more greens mean more water is being added.

Initially, I was also concerned about the balling effect but soon accepted the fact that some of the finished product is indeed going to look like real horse manure. Now I consider those balls as being super-size slow-release fertilizer granules with lots of good stuff trapped within. And that is exactly what they are!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 8, 06 at 11:18

as martin have answer, but mine is due to water too much in one go, that's why the whole thing become ball and anaerobic.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 10, 06 at 2:44

Hi folks,
I need to know something...
After I remove the first 'stinky' batch from my tumbler, and i have put it into a plastic container as for 'curing'. But i just check the been yesterday(10 days from tumbler) the 'compost balls' still smell stinky, and wet,. I was thinking to use it, but seem like so stink that i can't use it yet.

I am wondering is it i need to WAIT 2-3 more months till the bad odor go away and complete breakdown, then only I can use it? I can wait, just need to know should i keep the batch or need to throw it away....:(

weew


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Plastic won't allow it to breath/dry out. I would just dump it onto the ground for a while and I am sure you will see a difference quickly.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 10, 06 at 8:04

But i punch many many half inc holes on the side of the container. I forgot to add one more thing, after putting that batch in the container, i didnt cover it properly, and get rain ONCE!!! But now i have cover it with a very secure cover.
(I think the rain many have add more water!) :( I still can see very tiny pieces of grass and other material, I thought once i remove from the tumbler, i still need to wait as well. But how long?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I would say to take the cover off unless there is a threat of rain. I would also punch holes in the bottom. I would then place the container over another one so if the liquid drips out you can catch it for a great liquid fertilizer. I would also atleast once a week roll or turn the stuff in the platic container.
I dumped the one side of the twin tumbler I have. It started out as sawdust and kitchen compostables. I even put a few squirrels through this side. No chunks fell out it was all a nice fine brown compost. I still need to move it into the plastic barrel for "finishing". I will put this barrel near some plants that can use a boost. I won't cover it, hope it gets rain. I won't be ready to use this for a while anyway.
Here is a photo of it laying under the tumbler.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I am marking the calander today as the day I am starting that side, well letting side two cook. I have never kept track as to how long it takes.

Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Weew, there are several other things that you can do to cover up the bad results and that is to indeed cover it up! If you have a garden, the material can be spread and buried with an inch or so of soil. Another convenient way is to mix it 50/50 with soil and fill some large containers with it. In either case, the soil bacteria will have a real big feast in finishing it off that way. My planting hole and container mix was always 50/50 compost/soil and that compost may have been fresh from the tumbler. Still using the same 50/50 split now but adding fresh horse manure. Just a little stinkier now!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

So Martin, do you think a grown possum will compost down in a tumbler? Was very happy to see how well squirrels compost.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

A "grown" 'possum in the tumbler? I've done it! It's a head, a tail, 4 feet, entrails, and a skin. Bones go in later! I'm not certain about doing a large one in the small tumblers but there is absolutely no good reason not to if it's at the start of a hot batch. I've done whole wild rabbits and squirrels with no problem other than old rabbit skin acting almost like leather.

Convenient of this thread to act as my notes. It was barely 10 days ago when a dozen pigeons went into my tumbler. The stink lasted until several days ago so it was a week for that massive quantity of "ripe" meat and offal to cook down. I've since seen a wing or two after turning but anything with actual meat seems to have vanished. This is not a proper batch since too much additional green material had to go in to keep everything warm enough to cook the pigeons. This would be an anaerobic mess were it a pile. I've stopped adding anything since it's well over the normal 80 gallons of being half full to probably 120 gallons at three-quarters full. I'll give it another week and then it comes out no matter what it looks or smells like.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Hey Martin, question for you. My main sorce of browns these days are sawdust and from what I understand they are a very strong brown. Well I have started a program with Starbucks to where I will be picking up a bucket full of coffee grounds every day. I am thinking of not only my regular kitchen stuff will be going in the tumbler but also the buckets of coffee grounds. Will the coffee grounds really break down the sawdust quickly? Also how much would be to much, or if I do a 30 gallon trashbag full of sawdust how much coffee grounds should I put in there? I don't want to do to much.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Sandy, I don't do the Starbucks thing since I'm probably 15-20 miles from such a place. Daughter IS in charge of the morning coffee making at our local Quik Trip and I could probably get all of the grounds I wanted were it not for my own personal boycott of Quik Trip! In short, I don't know the exact answer to your question. I use coffee grounds as my wife drinks coffee but I have never needed to get large quantities of them.

No matter what one does with sawdust, I don't think that it really breaks down until it is worked over by bacteria which is mainly in the soil. There's something just natural about that and why wood will last for centuries if it doesn't touch the ground. Mixing coffee grounds with sawdust and running it through a heat cycle would indeed make it look like you've got pure lovely brown compost. I'd think that it's simply another brewing with the sawdust soaking up the coffee! With the coffee grounds being around 2% nitrogen, that's a good thing but I don't know how much grounds would be needed in your tumbler.

My present batch was way too high on greens when it was started a week or so ago. Couldn't stuff another gallon into the tumbler. Didn't realize how off-balance it was until it shrunk to barely a third full today and too wet. Had about 25 gallons of shredded oak leaves and white pine needles on hand so they were added today to help the moisture problem. I'm down to a single 30-gallon bag of shredded leaves and that will be the final reserve browns from last fall. That will go into this batch yet and then the new season starts all over again when the first leaf falls.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I wish I could get my hands on as much OPL's like you do. So for now I will keep using sawdust and paper for my browns. I added some grass clippings to it today. I tumbled it a few times to get the grass mixed in. I popped the lid to check to see if it looked like it mixed in good. Was hit in the face with a wonderful coffee smell-I am a coffee drinker so love that smell.I guess I will just wait and see, if anything when I lay it out this fall on the gardens it should look pretty.

Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

This evening I stuck the thermometer in side 1-still building that side-and it was a nice and toasty 120, side two which will cook for the next week was a nice hot 150. Had to be quick to reach in that side. It does amaze me how hot it can get in a couple days. Also amazes me how quickly it will shrink. Both sides were filled with grass clippings yesterday, was about half full with other stuff already, Today they are anywhere from 2/3 full to half full, the hotter side shrunk the most. Glad to see it is getting hot as I dumped what was left from a turkey I smoked a couple weeks ago. I don't want to see a turkey come back out of there when I dump it next week.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Side 2 is still staying around 140 to 150, has turned a nice dark brown in color with little white fungus dots all over it. I can now see the cross bars so it is now shrunk to less than half. Side 1 I am still adding to till I dump side 2. It is around 120 to 130. Isn't really shrinking anymore, hope to mow grass one day this week and will add clippings again.
When I popped the lids off tonight to check the contents I could see steam coming out of both sides.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I wonder if Kelly is still with us? This reminds me of a similar thread which began with a one-line question and it stopped at 99 while waiting for the thread starter to confirm that she was still around. Never did hear from her again!

My latest batch produced a few surprises several days ago. For one, one of the rods must have finally been eaten through so there's only one now. Second was seeing a lot of feathers which were still attached to pigeons! No problem to cook them as it was still quite warm but shrinking fast. Final bag of shredded leaves went in yesterday since everything was also becoming wetter as the green material shrunk. Then neighbor mowed and presented me with about 20 gallons of grass clippings. Steaming like crazy again today and son said that he'll be culling a few more pigeons in the next few days. Again, no problem!

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Well the temp in side two is starting to go down. Today it was only about 125 degrees. I guess I will be dumping it out in the next couple days. It is looking really dark and crumbly. It will go into my holding bin till this fall. I am still seeing turkey bones so I will try and pick those out and throw them into the next batch. The tumbler is such fun to check on every day to see what stage it is at.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Chicken and pigeon bones vanish quickly. Turkey legs bones apparently take a bit less than forever. Having to support a really heavy weight, they are quite solid. The rest of the turkey carcass isn't any tougher than a chicken's. If you could smash or crack them before adding them to the compost, the softer inner part of the leg bones would immediately be exposed and break down a lot quicker. I don't bother with that but simply bury the bones about 8" deep when I find one in the garden. There they may disintegrate at their leisure.

Martin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Ok just looked back and it was 20 days ago that I stopped adding to side two and let it cook. I dumped it today and put in some cross cut paper and a kitchen trash can size bag of sawdust. Now will let side one cook and work on filling this side.
Here is a photo of what I dumped out. I put what I dumped 20 days ago into a barrel with holes in it. I went digging in there the other day and it is loaded with garden worms. So I guess when I get ready to use these two batches they will be full of worm castings. Oh good stuff.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Another one in the ranks! Just got my tumbler today, got it together and filled it with piles of leaves, newsprint & greens that have been waiting and gave it a whole bunch of 'tumbles'.

Can twigs go in, ones that are not more than ( ) in diameter?

And in case you're dying to know what kind of tumbler I got, I'm a beginner so i went with the food grade barrel one on ebay, that way I'm not out too much money if I don't like it.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

new_in_texas, congrats on your new tumbler.
Yes twigs can go into a tumbler as long as they are very small. However don't expect much out of them. The smaller the pieces that go in the better. Woody items like twigs take for ever to break down so I avoid composting them unless I throw them through my chipper first.
Keep us up to date on how your tumbler is working.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Day 2 of my new tumbler. Day one: added the top half of my old heap, mostly garden clippings, added many loads of fresh cut grass and a bag of buckwheat hulls & some hay. Temp 80F Day 2: 150F, ambient, 60F! Smell is slight ammonia. I did add sprinkle of water to the "dry" ingredients, but resisted over doing this, but unfortunately hadnt read this forum until today.
OK, my question is: Can the pile get too hot? Kill everything that is beneficial? I suppose I should add more brown ingredients, all I have now is newspaper. What do you think? I have a medium ComposTumbler (40"x40") about full. I didnt use the supplied bag of starter.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

tumbenes, I would not add the starter. I don't think it will get to hot and kill off anything good. If you do add some newspaper don't add to much as it will quickly cool it off. Also shred up the paper as much as you can. My husband bought me a cross cut paper shredder and it will make quick work of a newspaper in no time.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Day 3: 140F & a bit more smell & bucket underneath had collected a small amount of tea. I have a paper shredder for junk mail and such, it spits out 1/4 x 3" strips & clogs easily...I'll try the Sunday paper to see how that goes. If I have to shop for a new shedder, any brand recommendations? I use an 8 yr old Toro mulching mower for shredding everything else (some take exception to that on this forum, but I am not buying anything else right now!).

As far as the starter, the instructions were for leaves without greens. But I have food markets nearby & starbucks.
I can steal leaves when the neighborhood puts them on recycle day.

thanks for the reply brdldystlu.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Day 4: 115F. Did use my older thermometer and it read 130F, dont know which one is right, but if the older is then day 2 temp might have been 165F! I would only care in respect killing off weed seeds.
The one thing that was never appreciated was the kitchen food scrap container, did see a link for one of those ground tumblers that had a stainless buck with lid, looked similar to a cocktail ice bucket, and cost about $40. If I am foolish enough to spend $400 then.
I can refine that. I was a pile composter, using a blue plastic cylinder with cones that the town sold. The 1st one composted itself, the 2nd on lasted. At that time I owned a truck and would visit sables. Work and general crises increasingly left me with less time to tend the pile, finally health issues mandated than I no longer attack the pile with a pitch fork.
Over the past few years I had very casual conversations with my wife in the vein of "what about those big ugly drum thingies". To my surprise the ComposTumbler arrived for my upcoming b-day. Well, Im sitting pretty as I convinced my wife that she be the one to turn the monster & she does. All I do is fill it and pretend there some dark science to what Im doing. Let nature take its course as the dirt turns, I say.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Man.. This is the longest thread I've read in a long time.. (I skipped a few near the end).. Anyway, I'm tempted to get an HDPE barrel or two and put some rods in them as indicated above and some holes here and there (any comments on hole sizes/placement/quantity would be appreciated!) and roll it around on the lawn.. We've got 3 regular bins (non-moving) now and I keep them going with nothing but lawn clippings and shredded paper from junk mail (non shiny paper, etc) as the browns. I learned my stinky pile lesson early and ended up throwing that pile away as it was difficult to fix it. Anyway, I'm hoping I can get a HDPE barrel for <$25 and some steel rods for $5-$10 more.. My existing piles can easily reach >150 degrees with the nice wet grass we've got -- works great! Can't wait to try the tumbler concept though!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I forgot to ask -- for Martin or some of the others of you that compost small animals (or deer!??!), isn't there some concern over pathogens that may exist in the animal not being properly killed? We were told in our local composting class (run by LA county dept. of Sanitation) that you should not put any meat items in your compost bin and no animal poop (from animals that are meat eaters such as dogs or cats) -- that way you remove any possible issues with those pathogens being passed on into the compost and possibly into the food chain..

On the other hand, we've got a nice power-line that runs through out backyard with tons of pigeons on it during the day and I could get into the habbit of "finding" one in my compost (if you know what I mean) on a regular basis and reducing the population in the neighborhood a bit as well..


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Martin is not able to post any longer, the big wigs banned him for something very minor. Anyway I have composted small animals in my tumbler with good success. Some of the bones are left behind. I put the "finished" compost out of the tumbler into a barrel that has holes drilled in it. Tons of worms have found their way in through the holes. While digging around in there I found a skull with a worm coming out of it. Was kind of gross.
For the most part they say to stay away from those things because most people don't have hot enough compost to kill the pathogens. My tumbler is known to get to 150 and stay there for a couple weeks. From what I understand pigeons compost really well in a tumbler. I am working on the tree rodent population, also several possums have made their way to the tumbler. This summer I have caught 4 very young possums, a few adults also. For the most part the stuff I produce with my tumbler gets put into flower beds, so I don't worry to much about it.
Sandy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I often wondered about optimal temp ranges.

from the web site;
http://www.compostinfo.com/tutorial/ManagePile.htm

quote:

"Monitor Temperature
If you are using a hot composting method:

Turn if the pile is less than 100F
Turn if the pile is more than 150F

Why? Because the Thermophilic bacteria prefer temperatures in the 105-140F range, and these microbes are the fastest at converting raw materials to compost.

If the compost pile exceeds 155F, or so, it may be too hot for the bacteria population to thrive. At higher temperatures the heat may actually kill off part of the population. If this happens, the temperatures will fall off and the populations will slowly rebuild."


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

It's been 2 weeks and I'm still plugging away. I 'tumble' it daily but I can't seem to get it past warm into hot. Most likely it's because I keep opening it up and putting more stuff in, I will now stop opening it up everyday and let it do it's thing. Something must be happening though because the volume keeps shrinking :)


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Sounds like you may have more browns than greens, or too dry (careful not to add too much water). With grass clippings I find they loose N quickly if being stored for a week or 2.

Here is how I troubleshoot:
Make sure the "vents" arent clogged.
If I see liquid collecting in the buckets below the tumbler, this tells me to add some dry brown.
If I smell ammonia, tells me to add some dry brown.
Sometimes the load needs a little pitch fork help to break up clumps.
If I think that the moisture level is OK and the pile isnt heating, add more fresh green.
If that doesnt work, I consider manure.

About turning:
Turn a lot to mix initial load, about tumbler capacity. Use fork if needed.
After about 100F stop turning (and stop adding material), pile needs to gather "momentum", but start turning again when it reaches 140F. Then when load cools to 100F, stop turning and let it rest, turn infrequently. If I am lucky this process take about 2 weeks, dump it as a pile in the garden and let it sit 1 week.

I did drill a hole in the plastic end cap for the thermometer so I dont have to turn to open door. The above is what I do; you may discover "Texas-style" methods!

hope this helps


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Good tumbler info.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

This thread (a great education) certainly gives new meaning to those pigeons that roll in flight, called "Tumbler Pigeons"!


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Free!! You lucky dog. I paid $350 (Including S&H) for my medium size ComposTumbler. Don't use it any more, now I have seven mesh bins, which totaled up cost less!

My first two tumbler loads didn't go over 90F. After that I shredded the leaves finely, and weighted both the greens and browns for the best C:N. I got temps of 160 or 165F in the warmer months.

But the tumbler was too much work compared to a simple cheap mesh bin which held more and cost $15 each. I found that if you put the mesh bin on the ground, a height of three feet was not needed. Two feet high bin got temps of 160F, and that was actually easier on my back. And I could put stinky fish and other stuff in the middle of the bin pile, which I never would have tried in the tumbler.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I made my own tumbler with two 200lit plastic drums - no holes 'cept the top door.
Conclusions are: 1. It has to be turned as often as possible - I give it a turn or six at least twice a day and more sometimes.
2. 'Post has to be removed and cured before really well done.
3. Makes slightly acidic compost- stays wet dont need much water.
Now I am experimenting by putting an aquarium air pump in the bottom of the one bin to aerate (they use very little current) - will see what happens.
Any tips ?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

This is a rather old and Loooong thread to be posting in. You might get more attention starting a new one.

Here is a link that might be useful: my bin


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

All are relevant-Nice to have all opinions in one place


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Hello,
I teach at an Elementary School in the Caribbean and we just got a tumbling composter with some grant $. We have been putting our cafeteria waste - fruit and veggies - into it plus leaves and what ever grass clippings we can manage to collect. About 50/50, but after reading ALL the posts I'm about to rectify that and make it 75/25.

I see from previous posts that we haven't been turning it often enough - no directions came with the bin. :( It seems warm(it's in the sun), but I do see ants crawling up the legs and into the bin, plus we found a roach in there - does this mean it's not warm enough?

Liquid comes out when we do spin it, does that mean there is enough liquid?

Also do I have to fill it? Can I leave it 7/8 full? Once it is full or in my case 7/8 full do I tumble it everyday, and how long should it take to make good compost?

I know it's a lot of questions but I want to get it "right" or as close to as possible as the children are really looking forward to working with "their" compost in the garden.....

Thanks for all your help.
Alexandra


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

just keep turning it every day and it will work. the more you put in it the quicker they work, or at least in MY case tha tis what happens. i made my own tumbler from a 55 gallon drum. if i fill it up and remember to turn it every day, i get good compost in a few weeks. if i forget, or only half fill it, it seems to take a couple weeks longer. the most important thing is to remember that as long as the stuff you put in is biodegradable, it will ALL turn to compost on it's own eventually.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I started using a tumbler a few months ago. For my first batch I used only shredded oak leaves and chicken manure (4:1). On my current batch I was thinking about adding egg shells. I eat 6 eggs a day and toss into a bucket. That means I would be adding shells every 4 or 5 days. Is there any risk of putting in too many shells over the composting period. I intend to use the compost in my vegetable garden as a fertilizer.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

No, you can use tons of eggs shells. Don't worry if they don't break down right away. Add them to your soil anyway. I used to work in a restaurant and used to put about 150 eggshells in my compost every day.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by weew Summer (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 14, 08 at 23:34

must be pouch before you add will be even effective. I just remove the new batch from the bin for curing, i think it need 1-2months to see the crumbly, dark brown finish compost.I just added the new material to my tumble again. Seem like i still get quite a lot of compost BALL with my tumbleweed composter.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

If my $350 tumbler had no broken after 3-1/2 years; I would try and experiment using the same ingredients in my tumbler and my mesh bin. I have got a pretty good idea of how it would turn out.

-----------------Tumbler------------Mesh bin

Cost--------------$350-------------- ~$15-17
Holds:---------- ~9.5 cu. ft----------24 cu ft
Footprint------- 2'by3?---------- 4' diameter
Appearance-----Noticeable---------less noticeable
Assembly time-----3 hours---------- 5 minutes
Stress on back-----medium---------- less
Highest core temp----- ~165F---------- `162F

Smell when using fish parts when 140F+ temp reaches:
----------------- noticeable---------- None -dog didn't
notice when fish put in core

Time to finish ---------- ?? never got done---- 2-3 month

Opinion of Ingredient:
-----Grass---------- very good--------- very good
-----Used grounds--- OK ----------------very good
-----Leaves---------- good--------------good

Time until failure:
-------------------3.5 years --------- probably 5-10 yr
----------(center bar rusted and broke)

Comments?


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 15, 08 at 13:05

new thread started

Here is a link that might be useful: tumbler experiences


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by mceller z5 CT - east of Hart (My Page) on
    Sun, May 18, 08 at 19:23

I have finally decided to purchase a tumber. I would LOVE recommendations.

Thanks, Christy


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Why not check the paper to see if anyone wants to sell or give away one? If you lived closer, you could drop by and take mine for $20.

Several years ago one person said there were a bunch of them at the local city dump.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

  • Posted by mceller z5 CT - east of Hart (My Page) on
    Sun, May 25, 08 at 14:10

so, Robert you are not a fan?

My husband is all for it as he thinks it will keep "my mess contained...

I am thinking about nailing 3 pallets together and calling it a day...


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

Silly question here but here goes, When I set it up, I filled my composter up all the way with greens and browns. Problem is how often to I fill it back up to the top? Every day or so I add food scraps and spin it around a time or two. I don't want to make something easy hard but I don't want to do this wrong. Cj


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

brdldystlu - Is it 2 single rods that go all the way tru your tumbler or 4 rods? Could you tell me how long the rods are? Thank you. I have the large single chamber tumbler. I have written the company several times to get instructions but so far no answer.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

hi composters, here is a good laugh for you. but i wish to know what to do for "brown" material, as i get wet soggy slurry that smells awful and takes years.
i eat vegetables, and i want to not have any food garbage in the garbage can. also, i would use compost in my garden, of course, but the first is my reason to compost.
i have almost no deciduous trees, so no leaves. almost no lawn, so no dry grass. no livestock, so no hay, chips, or sawdust, and no neighbors with any of that.
what, then, can i do? paper? it turned into papier mache in one tumbler, so how small must the paper be? i had torn it before putting it in, but maybe thats not small enough. anyway, newspaper and very few egg cartons are all i have. i am putting all veg scraps, so the slurry is what i get.


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RE: How do you use a compost tumbler?

I am experimenting by putting an aquarium air pump in the bottom of the one bin to aerate (they use very little current)
Anyone done this before?
I put 3/4 full with mixed Shredded leaves and a bucket of composted chicken manure
Put a rod into it to feel temp - It is very hot now. - will see what happens.
Any tips ?


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