Ozarksgardener
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Totally new to this with a couple questions!

We recently bought a house and the previous owner left his compost tumbler. I was pretty stoked at the find and got his old stuff emptied, but the tumblers inside are covered in rust. Is there anything I can do to remove it organically? I have tried salt and vinegar and it did nothing.
Next, while I have been working on cleaning it the past couple of days I have been putting my kitchen scraps in a colander on the counter to dry out. I have carrot peels, sweet potato peels and chunks, lettuce and banana peels. Are they okay to use after sitting out so long?
Thanks!

tomc
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

Compost is the microbal action on once living material. its gonna go on in your tumbler or the colander out on the counter.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

There's a reason why they left it behind! There is nothing much you can do short of rebuilding the whole thing that will get rid of the rust. And if you did it would just recur. The compost has to stay moist and is very biologically active. Metal compost bins rust through in nothing flat.

And if you could, it wouldn't be worth the trouble. Here's one thread we had about them: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 35&t=57749

They are heavy to turn when full, difficult to get the right balance of greens and browns and aeration.

Personally, I think you are much better off to get rid of the old tumbler and just make yourself a compost pile on the ground. Look around on the web, there are lots of DIY versions, some made from wood pallets that you can get free:

Image
https://blog.gardeners.com/wp-content/up ... poster.jpg

Oh and yes, the stuff in your colander is perfectly fine. But drying it out is an additional step that isn't needed. (And if everything you put in your pile/tumbler is dry, then you will have to add water to the compost pile, because as noted, your compostables have to stay damp.) I just keep a plastic bucket under my sink with a tight fitting lid (like kitty litter or laundry detergent comes in) and put kitchen scraps in there. When it is starting to get full (or in summer if it is starting to get nasty to open the lid) I carry it out and dump it in the compost pile and cover the stuff with "browns" (straw, fall leaves, etc - if you aren't familiar with this, read the composting basics threads at the top of this section).

If you want to spend a little money there are a variety of different counter top containers sold for this purpose, crocks and pails, etc. do a search on "kitchen compost containers images" to see a range of them: https://www.google.com/search?q=kitchen ... 55&bih=702
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Susan W
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

I'd say Give it a Whorl! Some rust isn't going to hurt, it's iron! There won't be enough to throw off the chemical make-up of compost. If in time the tumbler rusts through, time to get rid of it.

You will have to work a balance of greens and browns, and there's plenty of info out there on that.
I just got a composter, the small one from Mantis. As I have a large 'enriched dirt pile' am splitting kitchen scraps. I am putting some weeds in the composter as I clean pots and beds. Also there are plenty of leaves around left from fall and winter. I just scoop up handfuls and throw in. It's in a handy place near the back steps so easy to throw in a few scraps and give it a turn.
Have fun!
Susan

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ElizabethB
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

Ozarksgardener - welcome to the forum.

If you want to give the tumbler a try don't worry about the rust. Start loading it up. Hopefully the tumbler has lots of holes in it for air circulation. If not you will end up with a sloppy, smelly mess instead of compost.

Don't worry about drying your kitchen scraps - just toss them in. Make use of your coffee grounds, filters, tea bags and crushed egg shells. Add a handful of garden soil to get some microbes in the mix and add some browns - mulched leaves, shredded newspaper (black and white only), shredded toilet paper and paper towel tubes. If you use shred news paper add a little at a time so you don't end up with messy wads of paper.

Since I dump my kitchen scraps daily I don't need a large container on the counter. It is a plastic container, probably 1/2 gallon.

If you want a larger container and don't have a kitty litter or laundry detergent bucket visit the fast food joints. They get their sliced pickles in 5 gallon buckets. DQ also gets frozen strawberries in 5 gallon buckets. They are sturdy, have a snap on lid, a good handle and can be gotten for little or nothing. I have found many uses for those buckets.

When I first attempted composting I just piled up leaves and grass clippings. It was Okay but not the best. It was kind of an eye sore, it was a pain to turn and I did not have a good balance of browns and greens.

I now have 2 4' x 4' x 4' boxes made from scrap lumber and chicken wire. They are adjacent to each other to make tossing easier. I find it much easier to toss from bin to bin rather than turning one bin. I do not have critter problems so the tops are open and the front of the boxes is mostly open with an 18" footer to keep the compost in the box. The open front makes tossing and removing for use very easy. My neighbor wanted compost bins but did not have scrap lumber. She scrounged around and got her hands on wood pallets. She screwed them together to create the sides and backs. G cut down a pallet so she could have a footer on the front.

In prior years I had no problem collecting browns. We had an enormous live oak in the yard. Last fall we had to have it removed. :cry: The branches were splitting from their own weight and were a danger to G's shop, the patio and the house. I will have to get creative for my browns. For now I will have to rely on shredded paper and tubes. In the fall I can collect bags of leaves left curbside in the neighborhood before they are picked up by the yard waste service.

Caution: once you find a composting system that you are comfortable with you will be hooked for life!

Do check out the stickies on composting. Great information especially for a beginner.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Ozarksgardener
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

Thank you for all the replies. I have the scraps on the counter because I didn't have the composter clean, so had no where to put them yet. I wasn't sure how long it would take me to clean it and I didn't want anything to mold or get nasty, so I figured drying it would be the best way to keep it. I think I am thinking that it might not be the best thing to compost with and that you may be right rainbowgardener. The leftovers from the previous owners where not decomposed at all. I am not sure how long they were using it, or if they had a good ratio or just never turned it or what. There aren't really any holes in the composter either, just a round bin with the metal tumblers inside and a removable lid on either side. This is the one I have. https://www.target.com/p/suncast-tumblin ... AgX-8P8HAQ

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ElizabethB
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

Ozarksgardener - I don't like to burst your bubble of enthusiasm but I would ditch the tumbler and opt for a couple of bins. You MUST HAVE air circulation in order to produce compost. You will end up with sludge. Nasty stuff not suitable for the garden.

Probably why the previous home owner left the thing.

As pointed out you can easily construct free, nearly free or very inexpensive compost bins that will provide you with a wonderful soil amendment for your garden or landscape beds.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

toxcrusadr
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Re: Totally new to this with a couple questions!

Don't know why they would design that thing without air holes and drip holes for excess moisture. Duh. If it's plastic you could drill a few small holes (3/4" or so). Make sure you have adequate browns to balance the kitchen scraps. Try it out, observe and adjust. If it doesn't work for you put it out at the curb with a FREE sign on it. :-]

And don't worry about stuff decomposing on the way to the compost pile. It's just getting a head start. :-D
Tox

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