LelKma06
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New Composting Question

Hello!! I have started a new compost, in a tumbler and have a few questions, if anyone can help me out I would be very appreciative!!

1. I heard you can put egg shells in the compost, but do you need to rinse out the eggs from them first?
2. Can you put paper towels/napkins in it? What kinds?
3. How much water do you add and how often?
4. You cannot put weeds in there correct? What about plant stalks at the end of the season?
5. Can you throw stuff in there or do you have to chop it up real small?
6. Its starting the winter season, so it will be very cold. How can I promote the composting when it is so cold outside and "ensure" that I have a nice compost in the spring for gardening?
7. Our tumbler is pretty full now, what do I need to do now?
8. How full does it need to be, or should I allow it to get?

Thank you all so much for your help, I really want to be successful with this but don't want to mess it up!

tomc
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Re: New Composting Question

LelKma06 wrote:Hello!! I have started a new compost, in a tumbler and have a few questions, if anyone can help me out I would be very appreciative!!

1. I heard you can put egg shells in the compost, but do you need to rinse out the eggs from them first?
No, you do not need to rince out egg shells.
LelKma06 wrote:2. Can you put paper towels/napkins in it? What kinds?
Any kind of paper towel will break down in a tumbler. Drier sheets probably will not though.
LelKma06 wrote:3. How much water do you add and how often?
Close enough to none as to make my advise, 'never add water to a tumbler'. Even with added vent holes, tumblers tend to not shed water adaquately; making matrix too wet. If its still damp to touch, it still too wet in there. Also use a colander to collect kitchen scraps, to facilitate shedding water.
LelKma06 wrote:4. You cannot put weeds in there correct? What about plant stalks at the end of the season?
If you weed before seeds are ripe they certainly can go into tumbler. Stalks will break down better if they are clipped to six inch lengths (or so).

[quote="LelKma06"}5. Can you throw stuff in there or do you have to chop it up real small?[/quote]

I'm sure Martha Stewart uses a micro-plane to shred her kitchen waste, in order to get is completed 15 minutes faster than everyone else. Smaller chunk size will result in quicker compost. How hard are you willing to work at your dirt?
LelKma06 wrote:6. Its starting the winter season, so it will be very cold. How can I promote the composting when it is so cold outside and "ensure" that I have a nice compost in the spring for gardening?
You can't, cold weather will slow composting. If you absolutely need to actively compost in the winter, read up on indoor vermicomposting. Or, like everybody else understand the compost you build this year will feed the following years garden.
LelKma06 wrote:7. Our tumbler is pretty full now, what do I need to do now?
I used to fill my tumbler about 2/3 full. Let it compost and tumble a couple weeks and dump out into the garden, chunkage and all. It can finish on the bed, till-turn it under next spring.
LelKma06 wrote:Thank you all so much for your help, I really want to be successful with this but don't want to mess it up!
The fact that you can still tentatively identify a cabbage leaf, or a broccolli root does not mean its bad fertilizer or that food zombies are going to come and getcha. "If" you need perfectly homogenous compost it will be in very small amounts for in seedling flats, not en-mass for the garden. Sift the soil for seedling trays only. There is a tipping point at which oil will slow composting activity. 45 cases of orange peels, or a fryalator of tallow can be too much of a fatty thing.

Your tumbler's job is to get a rot-on with kitchen and yard waste. If I have any complaint it was never adaquate to my need.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: New Composting Question

You got a very nice answer from tom. Re chopping it up-- the harder and more solid something is, the more it will benefit from being chopped a little bit. If you are putting corn stalks in, chop as small as you can or put them through a chipper shredder. Anything soft can just be thrown in as is. Pretty much anything from your kitchen can just be thrown in.

The paper towels and napkins are a good thing to put in, because they count as "browns" i.e. carbon heavy. Weeds, plants, kitchen scraps and all the soft, moist stuff is "greens," i.e. nitrogen heavy. Read the greens/browns sticky at the top of this section. Compost works better and gives a better end product if you have a balance of greens and browns. I collect fall leaves to put in with my green stuff.

Re what to do now that it is getting full-- DON'T keep stuffing it. The point of a tumbler is to tumble. If it can't tumble because it is too full, it will not get aerated and it can get nasty. Ideal would be to get another tumbler. If you have two, you can be filling one while the other one works and just keep alternating them. 2nd best is to have a compost pile somewhere where you store stuff until your tumbler is ready to empty. It could be like a drum or something, but in that case the stuff will be pretty nasty by the time you are ready to dump it in the tumbler, at least in the summer. This is why I don't have a tumbler, just keep compost piles. If you are going to have to have a pile anyway, why bother having the tumbler and have to scrape up goopy stuff from the pile into your tumbler? Or I suppose you could basically have alternating systems. Add stuff to the tumbler until it is full enough (2/3 like tom said), then while that is working, put anything that comes along into compost pile and leave it there. Once the tumbler batch is done, then you can empty it and start filling again.

Yeah, not much you can do about winter. I'm not sure how the tumbler will work in winter. I keep compost piles and I do keep dumping stuff on them all winter. It doesn't compost too much, just freezes, but then as soon as the weather warms a bit, it starts working again. But it doesn't seem like there is much point to tumbling frozen stuff.
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tomc
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Re: New Composting Question

Sometimes a newly converted (to) composting person, gets a little hot-to-compost.

Leave the bucket loaded 10,000 pound frost bitten oyster compost to the guy with big boy toys.

Its OK to stick to a composter and a wheel barrow with hand tools.

Use your already present common sense and only add things to your composter that were once alive.

Exotic stuff like hair or fats will do better in moderation.

Inorganic stuff like motor oil or asphalt will do better in their absence.
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applestar
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Re: New Composting Question

Yes. Because of the elevated position and small capacity, tumblers are nearly impossible to keep warm enough to stay active during winter where temperatures fall below freezing, though it helps to have it in a sunny protected location like south side of a building. But not every gardener would give over a prime location like that for tumbling composter.

I've read about someone who kept three tumbling composters in their garage and kept them going that way. I think the issue then was a large enough catch tray for the drippings and mess.
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