gardengimp
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:44 pm
Location: Canton, GA

Read Compost Threads - Still Have Questions

I know this is probably a post that ticks some people off; but I've spent a great deal of time reading tips and forums and I still don't think I have a good handle on composting. So here's my situation:

I recently bought a 60gal barrel composter from home depot. From what I had read (at that point) it seemed the best option. However I later read it's not good for newbies. I loaded it in August or September with a brown/green mix I got from my 'Food4Wealth' guide. I didn't get the mix wet enough plus it wasn't in a very sunny area. Not much composted before the cold weather moved in. At this point, I can see much has composted, but it's not there yet. It's been in a sunny spot since January. So here are my questions:

How long should it take my compost tumbler to cook a batch (through winter and warm months)?

Can I add food scraps and other greens during the process?

Is adding blood/bone meal or already made compost as effective as the compost accelerators in the store?

Does the mix heat up in a tumbler the way it does in a heap?

Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
The most useful thing is nothing.

toxcrusadr
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Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Welcome to the forum!

>>How long should it take my compost tumbler to cook a batch (through winter and warm months)?

Theoretically you can make several batches per year if the mix and moisture is right and you turn it occasionally. I don't know how cold your winters are but in GA probably not too cold, but if it's very cold not much seems to happen in winter.

>>Can I add food scraps and other greens during the process?

Yes, but keep in mind the only way for a pile to completely finish is to stop adding material at some point. More on this below.

>>Is adding blood/bone meal or already made compost as effective as the compost accelerators in the store?

A handful of soil or compost, or some chunks of half-decomposed stuff from the last batch, is all you need. Blood and bone meal do not have microbes and are only a source of nitrogen or phosphorus respectively. You can add them directly to your soil IF you need those but adding to compost is not necessary.

Accelerators may speed things up but nature provides all the microbes your pile needs. For me it's not worth it. Patience is the key in composting.

>>Does the mix heat up in a tumbler the way it does in a heap?

Maybe, but again, not so much in winter.

Best strategy with this kind of a bin is, when it's thawed in the spring and you think there is some compost underneath, lift off the bin and set it up next to the pile. Fork the fresher stuff off the top back into the bin until you reach good compost. Use that, keep filling your bin, lather, rinse, repeat.
Last edited by toxcrusadr on Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Tox

gardengimp
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:44 pm
Location: Canton, GA

Oops

Thanks, that does help some. I'm in Canton, GA, zone 8. We get freezing temps in the winter but thaw out around late Feb. I said I had a compost 'barrel' but what I meant to say was tumbler (it is barrel shaped, of course). I don't have much experience with composters, but it seems to be well built for $100. Thanks again for the tips!
The most useful thing is nothing.

DoubleDogFarm
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

I will just add that volume makes a difference also. Many composting systems recommend starting with 1 cubic yard. Some where close to 3ft x 3ft x 3ft worth of material.


Eric

toxcrusadr
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Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Ah, a tumbler is a slightly different animal in terms of batches. I've never had one but if a person just has one container (whatever type it is) there is no place to put your incoming materials while the batch in the tumbler 'finishes'.

You might want to consider creating something for that. You can use something as simple as a circle of wire fence. If you are putting in mostly food waste, I would transfer from your tumbler to the second bin at some point and put your fresh stuff into the tumbler. That way critters aren't able to get at your fresh food waste. You could do this after a few weeks when it's about half composted, or whenever it gets full. And cover the top of the pile with something (a board, piece of plastic sheeting, etc) to keep most of the rain out, so the nutrients don't leach away. Unless it's too dry, that is.
Tox

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