pbleic
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Jora JK125 Outdoor Winter Tumbler Composting - Yes You Can

I had a simple goal - compost kitchen scraps (including meats, cooked foods, stringy vegetables, etc.) all year round with a minimal amount of work, no risk of rodents, and no worms. I got started from the WSJ article last fall and read everything I could on the web. I initially settled on the NatureMill XE Pro from Costco which seemed perfect (albeit with mixed reviews related to jams). In fact, it did work very nicely for about a month. It "just" about kept up with our family of 3 1/2 at home, and seemed to make nice compost. It made too much noise (and smelled just a little too much) for the kitchen, though so it went down to the basement. Then it jammed open. The jam was a mess and the fix included parts from the manufacturer, and emptying incomplete (and too wet) compost. I returned it.

I thought that was it for composting, but soon got forlorn looking at my shiny, new, empty composting crock in the kitchen. I scoured the web again and found the Jora JK 125. This seemed to have everything I wanted. It had two bins so that kitchen waste could be added every day, but still be able to mature for 4 - 6 weeks after the last batch was put in. It was made in Sweden and designed to work in the cold with polyethylene insulation. The design was simple and the bin was obviously easy to turn no matter how full (using a series of horizontal handles on the panels). It was very tastefully designed, in a utilitarian fashion, out of powder-coated sheet metal. The design was definitely rodent-proof, and provided for adequate aeration. But, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating (well, actually composting).

The JK125 arrived a week or so ago and was pretty easy to assemble. I had a "pre-started" small batch of compost in a bucket in the basement, which I added to the composter. Within a day, it was smoking and hot. This smaller version has a MUCH larger capacity than the NatureMill and will easily handle our kitchen scraps and more. I found that I could put almost anything in, without the more restriction on forbidden items (fibrous foods, citrus, etc.)) from NatureMill. The compost got a bit wet and it cooled down until I realized (with a little guidance from Jora) that I wasn't adding enough pellets (purchased at Lowe's for $4.95 for a 40 lb bag). It has now been cooking away, and the compost inside looks dark and well textured. This is all in New England during a VERY cold winter with temperatures at night in the teens and highs in the 20's to low 30's. The AIR temperature above the compost (measured through the air holes from the outside with a very accurate infrared thermometer) was 88 F last night.

I am very pleased with the simplicity and functionality of this machine. It meets all my needs. Aside from a needed tweak to the assembly instructions (which I have passed on to the manufacturer), the device is great. There is a two part video that shows how easy it is (albeit with an older, one door model of the machine. It now has 2 separate doors) on YouTube:





This is not a paid review, nor do I have anything to do with Jora. I am simply very impressed with their product and I am surprised that it doesn't seem to get much airtime when people talk about tumblers or winter composting.
Last edited by pbleic on Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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applestar
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Cool! I hadn't heard much about this Jora tumbler. Thanks for sharing your experience. :D

BTW -- Don't forget to check out the Greens and Browns sticky in this forum. There are lots of things you can recycle by composting :mrgreen: .Though the pellets sounds inexpensive and easy to use, I like using the cardboard TP and paper towel (and gift wrap!) core, used napkins, paper towels, and pressed paper products for my browns. :wink:

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rainbowgardener
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Very cool; thanks for the post. On the other hand, I still do everything the low tech old fashioned way, so I just trek my bucket of kitchen scraps through the snow, dump it on my frozen outdoor compost pile, cover it with a whole bunch of fall leaves which I collected for the purpose. When the kitchen scraps bucket gets full and it is seriously too bad weather for me to face the trek to the pile, I stick it out on the screened porch where critters can't get it and get a fresh one (buckets are cat litter buckets with tight fitting lids). Once the weather warms all the frozen stuff on the pile thaws and starts cooking again.

pbleic
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applestar wrote: I like using the cardboard TP and paper towel (and gift wrap!) core, used napkins, paper towels, and pressed paper products for my browns. :wink:
Thanks for the tip. I actually started with shredded cardboard (in my paper shredder) and would like to go back there. However, I got a bit spooked by the compost getting too wet. I will try it again after I get completely confident at obtaining reproducible results with the pellets.

rot
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Pellets?

..
What are these pellets you're adding?
..

pbleic
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Re: Pellets?

rot wrote:..
What are these pellets you're adding?
..
Per instructions from both NatureMill and Jora, I am using compressed sawdust pellets, of the type sold for wood pellet stoves ($5/bag) or kitty litter (apparently, the same stuff, $15/bag). Bags of these pellets are stacked up on shipping pallets at my local Lowe's and Home Depot. People by them by bag or by the ton! A bag should easily last a year or two with kitchen composting. The advantage over cardboard, other browns is that they add little volume, allowing you to get more kitchen waste per batch. You throw them in at a ratio of 1:10 with your kitchen wastes.

levydav
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Anyone have any long-term experience using the Jora composter with kitchen waste?

akt
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JK 125

I just purchased the JK 125 composter. It looks like it will sit nearly on the ground and may be difficult to empty. Is there longer legs for this one. thanks, akt

pbleic
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Re: JK 125

akt wrote:I just purchased the JK 125 composter. It looks like it will sit nearly on the ground and may be difficult to empty. Is there longer legs for this one. thanks, akt
I saw that they sell a "kit" with higher legs if you want. You can also mount on a sturdy structure up high.

I have seen a photo of emptying onto a tarp on the ground, which is what I plan to do when I have my first load.

K9-person
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I am considering ordering one of these composters. What was the tip you suggested for the Jora Form? Are you still pleased with this composter? Thanks.

pbleic
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Follow Up

Spring is here and someone requested an update on the Jora JK 125. It has been an interesting learning experience. Although nothing froze over the winter, it was challenging to keep things cooking in the active compost bin. However, despite never getting particularly hot in the cold weather, everything seemed to "integrate" into browness, and when spring arrived finished composting - no smells, and a steady temperature near ambient. I never had to stop adding to the bin, and I have my first complete batch. I filtered it through a 1/2 inch mesh which was messier than I had hoped, but the compost looks great.

Overall, it is a bit more work than I had thought. I had to break up "balls" of compost with a hand rake every once in a while and I had to add more pellets than I had thought (this was the "tip" from Jora - that the compost was typically wetter than desirable and often needed more wood pellets than predicted).

However, it works as advertised, and I am on my 3rd batch (second is "incubating" in the second bin).

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rainbowgardener
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I must say I really like this design. My main trouble with tumblers has always been that they do batch composting. So what do you do with your materials while one batch is cooking... you have a compost pile. If you are going to have a compost pile anyway, why bother with the tumbler? They have answered that problem by making it two separate bins.

Now, other than the $275 and up cost, my other concern would just be for the soil biology. My compost pile sits on the ground and it fills up with earthworms, and a whole variety of macro and micro creatures. You certainly wouldn't get earthworms and other macro creatures in your tumbler. The guy in the YT video did mention bacteria, so I guess it still does have plenty of micro life. I love it that every time I add my compost to my soil, I'm adding a bunch of earthworms along with it, to help break down the compost into plant accessible nutrients.
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Guest

Hi all

I was told by someone from the joraform company that coffee grounds could probably not be used as a carbon source instead of sawdust or wood pellets because it would not absorb enough moisture or provide enough carbon. They said they had not tested it which i found rather disappointing. Of course the grounds can be added and will compost very well so we do add a bit but not instead of sawdust which we luckily managed to source from a carpentry shop.

A new question i now have after using these rotating bins for a couple of weeks is whether there is anything we can do about the large number of maggots in the compost? The 50 degree plus heat is not killing them when we rotate the bins. Anyone know if there is a way to reduce them? it puts the students off wanting to put the food waste in them every few days..

I have been told to use Diatomaceous earth - is this the best option? I hope I can buy it easily and that it is not un-environmentally friendly (through its extraction environmental damage and transport?)..

Thanks
D

toxcrusadr
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Are these fly maggots (the small ones) or very large segmented ones? Either way you definitely want to address that.

Diatomaceous earth might work fine, it is just mined and ground up former seabed. But I would be looking at the causes - likely too much moisture and too much nitrogen (ie not enough browns).

As for coffee grounds: They are a mild green, almost perfectly balanced. Certainly compostable but do not count on them to add much on the green or brown side. And yes they are already wet, so you can't count on them to absorb any moisture. I would put them in anyway because they make fantastic compost when blended with other materials.

I wanted to respond to earlier discussion about using compressed wood pellets. I am sure they work fine, but I would go with a free brown material like shredded paper, leaves, sawdust from a woodshop, etc. I think you mentioned students - are you in a school here? If so is there a woodshop? :idea:
Tox

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Yes, am at a school, so the Science teacher has taken some of the maggots into the lab so that they can see what comes out after pupation - then hopefully we can identify more easily. (Great learning opportunity for students too - one of the points of composting canteen waste)...

We do not have a woodshop/ workshop at school. But, in the city I found a carpentry shop where we can get the sawdust and wood shavings (sawdust is supposedly ideal, but we are going to try with the shavings too [they won't absorb much moisture but hopefully will add good structure to the compost end product]).

We will add some coffee, but not too much. Shredded paper is a no no for these tumblers because apparently is bunches up and forms balls too easily..

toxcrusadr
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I use a lot of wood shavings, being a woodworker myself. They will take a little longer to break down, but they work fine. Some will break down faster than others - the softwoods like pine will go fast, but oak, walnut etc. may take longer. Make sure they know that you don't want any treated wood.
Tox

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The maggots turned out to be soldier fly (which are highly desirable), just to let people know..

Leeds212
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Jora Composter - experience to date

I have tried all sorts of things over the years and have now settled on the following system which works well in the UK producing compost from all kitchen waste (I do mean everything, whole chicken carcasses go in and all your find in the compost is the thigh bones) I also chuck in shredded paper and some brown card board (such a toilet roll tubes).

I use a Jora 250 composter which I found copes well with our family of 4-6 and 4 Bokashi bins.

Kitchen waste goes in the the Bokashi bins first on a cycle so that each one is emptied and filled in turn which takes about 3 weeks but once you get it going it is just continuous.

This process is anaerobic in a sealed tub and seems to infect the compost with microorganisms from the Bokashi bran which produces vinegar which I draw off and dilute with water to fertilise the plants and everything goes pale without seeming to break down very much.

I then empty each Bokashi bin into the Jora composter as I need a new one with 7 mug fulls of sawdust pellets. This then gets really hot and within a week or two breaks down into compost (but I keep adding bins and pellets in the same proportions until that side of the compost bin is full which takes about 4 -5 weeks at our house). I twirl the composter whenever I pass it but no more than twice a day.

I then fill up the other side and by the time that is full the compost in the first section is ready. I then sieve the compost with a wire seive and use it in the garden. It is quite strong stuff so it is fine on grass but other wise I mix it with soil before use. The larger lumps get thrown into the main garden compost heap. I get wheelbarrow full of seived compost each time.

The only other addition I have is that my composter is outside on a stand that is sold with the composter (it does smell a little probably because either I am not using quite enough wood pellets or I am putting the waste in batches and not as recommended in little bits as it is generated but you don't notice it when it is outside) and have rigged up a big plastic garden tray with a hole in one corner over a bucket to catch the liquid that comes out as that is good diluted and put on the plants or chuck on the main garden compost heap.

All in all works a treat.

jtuck2
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Re: JK 125

akt wrote:I just purchased the JK 125 composter. It looks like it will sit nearly on the ground and may be difficult to empty. Is there longer legs for this one. thanks, akt
Just so you know, Jora changed this and as of about 5 months ago the JK 125 comes with the same height legs as the larger Jora.

Ray Browning
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Re: Jora JK125 Outdoor Winter Tumbler Composting - Yes You C

I made a compost pile in my chicken coop in late winter a few years ago. I really should have thought it through. I opened the door to the coop one morning and HOLY SMOKES I got gassed out. The poor birds survived but yes I learned NOT to do that again. Stupid actions are a very nice teacher. :)

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Jora JK125 Outdoor Winter Tumbler Composting - Yes You C

Compost piles properly maintained and ventilated have NO smell or noxious gases. Presumably your coop pile wasn't ventilated.
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Re: Jora JK125 Outdoor Winter Tumbler Composting - Yes You C

Wood chips or shavings are indeed a good material to mix with food waste. We've been using them for years here at my office to mix with food waste from the lunch room and a lot of coffee grounds and filters. Coffee grounds can really compact in the composter (we're not using tumblers) so the shavings are a good way to keep the pile aerated.
Tox

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Re: Jora JK125 Outdoor Winter Tumbler Composting - Yes You C

I am using the Jora JK125 in the Netherlands. After experimenting with paper and cardboard shreds for its carbon and moisture absorption in autumn, I got a big fruitfly problem. The dealer said this was due to too much moisture and perhaps too little carbon. So I switched to wood pellets.

The moisture dropped and the fruit flies disappeared, which may have had something to do with dropping temperatures. The compost started to feel warmer, though not exactly steaming.

A week ago all the dawn redwoods in our street shed their needles and I added a pile of those to a half full chamber of compost. After all this is much more ecological than buying a processed wood product that has to be shipped to my home.

This was a nice experiment, which for me is half the fun of composting, but the amount seems to have been an overdose. The compost has clustered into dry balls. I'm not sure if I should now add a little water, or just add more kitchen scraps to slowly restore the balance.

Pine/conifer/etc needles are helpful in keeping the compost airy, but they do not disintegrate as fast as food waste. This will differ from species to species, and I'm betting that needles from conifers that are shed annually are not built to be as durable as those that will serve the tree for many years.

My husband is concerned that pine needles will be coated with nasty stuff from the city air that settles on them in the course of a year. Me not so.

I like the idea of adding earhworms and other larger creatures to the compost. Why not do that as soon as you've formed a small base of composting stuff in which the worms can reasonably survive? And why not just add a scoop of soil?

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