antheis
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my compost plan

I'm planning on building my own tumbler (or two) if i can source all the components for less than $500.
my main components will probably be spent mash from a local brewery mixed with coffee grounds since i can get both in mass quantities and jump right into having fresh compost.
i should say that I'm moving so i can't start composting just yet thats why everything is just a plan.
please feel free to post any huge problems that you may see or any helpful hints.
thanks!

DoubleDogFarm
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With those two items, I'm think worm farm. :D

Eric

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farmerlon
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You can likely make several "homemade" compost tumblers for well under $500.00

In my area, the Farmers Co-op sells large (50 to 60 gallon) recycled Olive Barrels for only $18.00 each !!!
Those are perfect for making rain barrels or compost tumblers.

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rainbowgardener
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Here:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15273&highlight=homemade+compost+tumbler

is a picture someone posted of their home made compost tumbler. They said $0 dollars because they had all the components lying around. If you had to buy all the parts, I'm still thinking under $100.

But I agree with Eric/DDF -- if you just put coffee grounds and brewery mash in it, you are likely to end up with a slimy mess. Look at the sticky at the top of this forum on Greens & Browns and think of some browns you could add:

fall leaves, shredded paper, paper grocery bags, cardboard, straw, wood chips, etc....
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ruggr10
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I don't really like my compost tumbler... I'd give you mine if you were closer.

antheis
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With those two items, I'm think worm farm.
Eric
thanks eric, i hadn't thought of that. now i have a new topic to research.

farmerlon and rainbowgardener,
thanks for the ideas about tumblers, now i realize that a $500 budget was quite ridiculous.
I don't really like my compost tumbler... I'd give you mine if you were closer.
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Odd Duck
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I have 2 compost tumblers (1 used end-for-end tumbler for $50 and 1 horizontal spinner on sale for $100) and I'm not impressed. They don't speed up the process much for me. It is difficult to regulate the moisture and the compost they produce just doesn't have as nice a texture as the wire bin compost heaps. If I turn the wire enclosed heaps even 1-2 times I can get compost as fast as the tumblers and MUCH nicer texture. I haven't done any nutrient tests, but the stuff just looks and smells better from my heaps than from the tumblers. I would say - don't waste your time and money on tumblers.

Just use some wire fencing, heavy chicken wire, salvaged pallets, whatever comes to hand and enclose 3 areas, each about 3'-4' wide and tall. Fill bin 1 with your layers of greens and browns, when it's full, turn it into bin 2 and start refilling bin 1. When bin 1 is refilled, turn bin 2 into bin 3 and the newly refilled bin 1 into now empty bin 2. Start filling bin 1 again. When bin 1 is full, bin 3 (which has been turned twice, now) should be ready to use (depending on your time frame and how fast you refill bins). Start using bin 3. When bin 3 is used up, bin 2 gets turned into bin 3, bin 1 is turned into bin 2, refill bin 1, etc, etc. You will produce FAR more volume with this system than with tumblers - which work better as all in, all out systems, and take at least 6 weeks or more for me no matter what the weather, how often I turn, etc. I think composting works better when the material is in contact with the ground so bugs and worms can help work the piles. Mother Nature's composters are better at it than we are and if we let them help us, things go faster than the relatively sterile tumblers.

I tried a little experiment of filling my tumblers with some manure - cow in 1, horse in the other. I moistened (it was pretty dry), I turned, I re-moistened, I turned, etc, etc, etc, and it still has manure odor inside clumps that I reach in and break apart. I started this last fall. My wire bin I started at the same time I've already used. The wire bin I started nearly 2 months later I'm getting ready to use. I did not turn these particular wire bin batches at all. They are/were a bit chunky since I didn't turn them at all through the winter, but they still produced some nice compost. The tumblers are fairly ready and I'll probably put what they produce into the bottom of the next raised bed I'm building, but I won't mix them in the top layer where my veggies will be growing, only in the deeper layers (about 14 inches under the surface). This should keep the stuff from burning roots (remember, I just used manure, no browns in this particular experiment). I'm debating getting rid of the tumblers. They take up nearly as much square footage as a wire bin and produce less volume of compost. Just FYI, take my words as a factor in your decision, but things may work differently for you.
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farmerlon
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Odd Duck wrote:I tried a little experiment of filling my tumblers with some manure - cow in 1, horse in the other. I moistened (it was pretty dry), I turned, I re-moistened, I turned, etc, etc, etc, and it still has manure odor inside clumps that I reach in and break apart. I started this last fall. ...
I'm thinking that the manure alone may not have had a suitable Carbon:Nitrogen ratio.
You might have had better results if you had mixed in more materials. Some more "Browns" were probably needed, since the manure maintained it's odor for a long time.

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soil
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someone gave me a compost tumbler a few years ago. i tried compost in it once and since then i just use it to mix soil as its 100x better at that job than making compost.

works amazing for mixing soil though, toss everything in and give it a few turns and its ready for potting some plants
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rainbowgardener
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I haven't used a tumbler, but the thing about them is it has to be batch composting. You fill it up and then let it sit and be tumbled for however many weeks (months?) it requires. You can't keep adding materials, because the new stuff gets all jumbled up with the old stuff, no way to separate them, so you would never have a finished product. That means you have to have a compost pile somewhere else to save your compostables until the tumbler is ready to be emptied and loaded up again. For me, if I have to have a pile anyway, why not just have the pile? I like being able to toss materials in, whenever they show up.
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Odd Duck
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farmerlon wrote:
Odd Duck wrote:I tried a little experiment of filling my tumblers with some manure - cow in 1, horse in the other. I moistened (it was pretty dry), I turned, I re-moistened, I turned, etc, etc, etc, and it still has manure odor inside clumps that I reach in and break apart. I started this last fall. ...
I'm thinking that the manure alone may not have had a suitable Carbon:Nitrogen ratio.
You might have had better results if you had mixed in more materials. Some more "Browns" were probably needed, since the manure maintained it's odor for a long time.
I was just curious what would happen, if it would take longer, be hotter, stay stinky, be wetter, etc. I didn't realize that once dry, the manure was a little hydrophobic, and the cow manure in particular, took severel wettings before it really started heating. The manure I used did have some browns/grass/straw mixed in (not as much as I would normally use). The entire bin didn't smell much when you opened it after about 4 weeks, just the "lumps" would still smell when you squished them even after almost 8 weeks. In my regular heaps, it only takes maybe 2-3 weeks before the (often still recognizable) "lumps" lose the odor in the interior. I rarely get recognizable manure odor, even at first turning, and I've turned piles as soon as 2 weeks after building. There's never manure odor at 2nd turning.

After several batches of compost (tumbler and heap) over the last few years, I just am not at all impressed with the tumblers. I guess my expectations were too high. I may start using 1 as a soil mixer (thanks, soil!) and the other possibly as a pre-composter for my worms? Haven't decided yet. If someone's close, I'd be happy to sell one cheap!
Sharon
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soil
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I haven't used a tumbler, but the thing about them is it has to be batch composting. You fill it up and then let it sit and be tumbled for however many weeks (months?) it requires. You can't keep adding materials, because the new stuff gets all jumbled up with the old stuff, no way to separate them, so you would never have a finished product. That means you have to have a compost pile somewhere else to save your compostables until the tumbler is ready to be emptied and loaded up again. For me, if I have to have a pile anyway, why not just have the pile? I like being able to toss materials in, whenever they show up.
this is one reason why i didnt like it for composting. to be a good system you would need like two or three. rotate batches in them, 1 active fresh material, 1 active decomposing, and 1 finished curing compost. seems like that setup would kill your wallet.
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swickstrum
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rainbowgardener wrote:I haven't used a tumbler, but the thing about them is it has to be batch composting. You fill it up and then let it sit and be tumbled for however many weeks (months?) it requires. You can't keep adding materials, because the new stuff gets all jumbled up with the old stuff, no way to separate them, so you would never have a finished product. That means you have to have a compost pile somewhere else to save your compostables until the tumbler is ready to be emptied and loaded up again. For me, if I have to have a pile anyway, why not just have the pile? I like being able to toss materials in, whenever they show up.
I've never used a tumbler either, but after looking at the pictures you linked to from that guy in Lubbock, TX I'm rethinking that position! What a great thing that guy came up with! I'm telling you, I think McGayver was a gardner in his former life. :)
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bogydave
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I tried the 55 gallon drum tumbler with not much success.
For the space & time I invested in it, it just didn't speed up composting for me. I'm guessing a learning curve is involved & I never got the mix just right.
I've gone to the bins with good success. More volume in the same space & less time working it. I added some air pipes in the piles to reduce mixing time too.
Post your success tips, I may resurrect mine for daily compost material (kitchen scraps, weeds etc) if I can get some tips of how to get it working better.
"

tomc
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The single happiest person I know of who has retained her tumbler for several years, lives in new england and has trouble walking to her compost bins in the winter.

Inasmuch as her tumbler freezes solid in winter in her garage, its use might more properly be described as a 'slops barrel' for kitchen waste.

Based on two trials of mine (both times I abandoned them), regulating moisture is neither obvious or comes with operating instructions.

*If* you use a colander to hold kitchen waste, and keep loading port in the down possition, to facilitate excess water draining out. You may be happier with your result.

Mine were just never adaquate to my need.

The taller (bottomless) tower composters, can be simply lifted off of compost. The top uncomposted material can be re-loaded to the now empty tower, will I expect work more nearly to what bin composting does.

I will grant some kind of camoflage will work better in smaller suburban yards.
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