anyone have a good design for a compost tumbler ... ?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Brad, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. Brad

    Brad Junior Member

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    Hello all

    I have just recently purchased a good strong 44 gallon plastic closed in drum and I am after a good design for a compost tumbler. Your help would be greatly appreciated I am super keen to start composting.


    thanks
    Brad
     
  2. reggi

    reggi Guest

    What is your purpose with the tumbler? Me i just throw everything into the same place. I have a dry compost buildt up of wooden planks. I mix in fresh earth and powderized wood when necessary. And then i have a heavy cover on it, in order to press the content down. However, this is in a rural place. So smell and flies are not a problem. If you live in an urban area, it is maybe necessary with a higher degree of sophistication in the compost.
     
  3. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Reggi........ great to see a scandinavian here... welcome.


    Brad,

    You could build one of those huge rotisserie things that I have seen on TV and roll it occassionally.

    If you have one of those beaut plastic 44's.. I would drop stuff thru the top and when it was half full, I would just roll it on the ground to aerate it. First though I would grab a drill and put 30 or 40 [at least ] half inch holes thru it with a drill.

    I have seen the sort of thing you are talking about and have a few reservations. Primarily, they did not seem to have enough air holes in them. I do not doubt that super-fast compost can be made in them.

    For mine though, my compost tumbler is a garden fork and a bit of effort. I also thought when I saw one that it looked like a great idea but then I realised that most of the stuff that I could put in one of those little entrance/hole/lid things was already committed to my poultry, worms or rabbits which produce a superb product in as little as 24 hours.

    Any of my nasty weeds were consigned to a barrel [upright] of liquid manure. Both were better options for me.

    Cheers

    floot
     
  4. heuristics

    heuristics Junior Member

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    compost tumbler

    I started with one of those commercial plastic compost containers on a pivot...... never got compost, only gluggie smellie goop.
    Now use the rapid compost method – turn it myself – more work, but then it actually works!

    I would save the 44gallon plastic drum for something more useful – like storing water or the “one day” backyard acquaponics system
     
  5. living simple

    living simple Junior Member

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    Compost tumbler

    I bought a secondhand commercial type compost tumbler about a year ago, and i think it will be leaving soon! It is situated right next to our huge garden and i had grand plans of throwing everything in it, but i found it a bit useless when i had to seperate what was too big for the tumbler (like corn stalks, tomato/pumpkin vines, etc). At first i was impressed that it had a screw opening at both ends, but alas, being out in the sun has made the plastic lids brittle and when i turned it, the contents would 'thud' down on the lid and now they are about to break in half (i'm getting too scared to turn it!) We are going to build a couple large compost bays with covers close to the garden next summer and just throw everything into that!

    Good luck with what you decide, Brad! Happy composting . . .

    Cheers
    Lyn
     
  6. heuristics

    heuristics Junior Member

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    tumbler

    Yes – Brad, like Living Simply says, for “real” compost those commercial tumblers dont work. Have a look here on the board at “confounded by compost” a post from a few months back. From the posts you will see why it is unlikely they can really be successful. With mine, I found it dried out all the time. I didnt have it near water, and was carrying bucket-loads to try and damp it and the water would just run through. The next thing, it was all wet and gloopy.....

    Try and find some wooden pallets lying around – try the back of shops and laneways.... I have sourced lots from those sort of places. Tie them together with a star post and wire or whatever. They make great compost bins and you can have a couple storing material waiting to get put together in a “compost cake”...
     
  7. reggi

    reggi Guest

    Many good points from "living simple" here. If you have space enough to leave the compost on the ground, you have good possibilities for making a nice culture out of it. When i was a kid, my grandparents used to put everything organic in a corner of the garden. Including the content of the WC. It was miced up with hey from the grass cutting and also occationally with bark and peat dust. This blend, together with the contributions from local worms, flies and other small creatures, probably made a better work than a plastic composter could ever do.
     
  8. darcyc

    darcyc New Member

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    found some plans via google

    not to detract from previously posted advice, but I found some plans via Google -- nothing too flash, but might get you started in the right direction. In fact it might get me motived to do something about the 2 44-gal drums I have sitting downstairs :)

    this one is assembly instructions for a commercial tumbler, but it is very detailed and could serve as a plan for a DIY job:
    https://www.urbangardencenter.com/produc ... tions.html

    more traditional DIY plans:
    https://www.rco.on.ca/factsheet/fs_ee01.html
     
  9. Rafe

    Rafe Junior Member

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    I bought an Azdec 420 liter compost tumbler, at great expence. Because I believed their blurb that it would make compost in 14 days. What a fool. After 12 months of trying every single permutation & combination of mixtures to make compost with this thing. all failed to make compost. I have been making compost all my life & continue to do so in 3- 1.5 cubic meter bays. It's good exercise & makes beautiful compost. Buying the compost tumbler was a complete waste of time & money. If there is anyone out there who can enlighten me as to how to make compost, with a tumbler, in 14 days....Please let me know.....If there is anyone out there who has made the same mistake as me by wasting their money on a compost tumbler & would like to do something about having the false advertising involved by the manufacturers of these things....Let me know
     
  10. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    I used the Compost Tumbler for year or so,mine worked ok,its all about carbon nitrogen ratios...roughly two buckets of brown to one bucket of green
    small as possible turn as directed no more no less...if yo really want great stuff use lawn clippings and mulched straw....anything else isnt worth trying really least of all vege scrsps..

    Actually it only works if you fill it all in one go....it dont work propper if you load it ongoiningly say...

    Good Luck

    Tezza
     
  11. Honeychrome

    Honeychrome Junior Member

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    My guess is that most here already own or have read 'the Humanure Handbook,' but for any who haven't, you can read it online:

    https://weblife.org/humanure/

    I found it to be a fantastic source of information on composting in general.

    I don't really understand the point behind compost tumblers and compost turning in general- is it to produce useable compost quickly? Overall it just seems like a lot of effort both building/setting up a tumbler and regularly turning it (or turning your compost pile). Are there benefits that I am missing? Why not just put it all in the pile and let time do the work?
     
  12. Rafe

    Rafe Junior Member

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    Azdec Rapid composterd don't work

    Hi Tezza, Have you actually made compost in 14 days???
    2 carbon to 1 nitrogen...Interesting???? The manufacturers tell me that if you put a couple of buckets of used coffee grounds, a couple of buckets of used tea leaves & a couple of buckets of old,dry, pulverised cow manure & add a couple of buckets of very fine grass clippings & adjust the moisture content.....You get compost in 14 days. Is this what you do.
    My assertion is that as all the brown look like compost anyway. You are just getting something that ....LOOKS... like compost in 14 days. It's not really compost
     
  13. richard in manoa

    richard in manoa Junior Member

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    2:1 buckets of brown to green wouldn't necessarily equate to 30:1 C:N. Depends on what is in your buckets of green and brown. swadust is brown, it's 800:1, straw is more like 100:1 depending on the straw. Cow shit (which is brown, but so nitrogenous that it is "considered green") is 30:1 or thereabouts, and chicken poo is much higher in N... Etcetera etcetera etcetra...
     
  14. Rafe

    Rafe Junior Member

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    Thanks Richard. Are you saying 30 parts carbon to 1 part Nitrogen is the formula??
     
  15. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Rafe, Richard's right. You've got to use a LOT of carbon, (junk mail that's made of safe stuff, newspaper torn up, leaves, everything you can get your hands on that's carbon). For every inch of kitchen scraps, you need 3 inches of paper/carbon. The contents needs to be as damp as a wrung out sponge alll the time. If it dries out, it slows down.

    I use a tumbler, and I have had a problem with packrats eating the aeration holes bigger and getting into it to eat the kitchen scraps, so that had to stop.

    I just got a garbage can with a lid that locks on, I layer everything, kitchen scraps which are really sloppy and gross, which is where the TONS of paper/carbon comes in. I keep this can in the sun, lay it on its side and just roll it. It is a pretty sloppy mess, but the hot sun keeps too many maggots, etc., from being there. The paper keeps it from smelling horribly. I add extra nitrogen.

    When this batch breaks down enough for the packrats to leave it alone, I switch it over to another tumbler that does have aeration, and then tumble twice a week, it's in the shade, making sure the contents don't dry out.

    Fourteen days might make the contents look different, but that's not compost. Really healthy compost that's good for your plants, and makes nutrients available to the roots of the plants is made slowly, over months.

    Don't get discouraged, though, because it's the best stuff there ever was, and tumblers have saved my back from hurting, save a ton of time, I might not have time to turn a pile, but I have time to do a quick roll. :)
     
  16. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Okay Okay Okay So i got my Ratios a bit wonky :( :( :( :lol: :lol: :lol:

    If the tumbler company tried to sell them just by how they say it works itll never sell cause it dont work too good I hvent used my tumbl;er for over 10 years..

    Only time it worked was by my method ..

    Dammed if i can remember the exact ratio but some wil say ratios of 30 to 1 some say 3 parts green etc to One part carbon brown..

    No it maynot be pure compost etc etc but it never will in 14 days Its just a lot like compost that really behaves like a great mixed up mulch/compost..

    Actually If we stopped doing things everyone says dont work.
    and we did everthing people says does work,Humans woulda died off thousands of years ago..

    Vegie,food scraps should be run thru a chooks digestion system rather then composts etc etc.composts take weeks months to actually work.

    Feeding chooks orks 100% str8 away

    Tezza
     
  17. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Mine is crumbly dark compost in around 17-18 days Tezza - similar to a conventional Berkley compost.

    They really don't help people who haven't composted well before with the instructions they put in with these tumblers...saying stuff like just straight grass clippings in there will be 'compost' in 14 days.

    The only way to go is with manure added at the right ratio - the Humanure handbook is very helpful for getting an idea...beyond that it's just a matter of refining the ratios for the materials and mix of them you have on hand.

    One other note I just thought of...some of the tumblers are simply too small. I have the biggest available and that may well explain my better results.

    I can't really see how the smaller ones would build up enough heat to ever get a decent result - possibly regardless of how much care to get the right ratio you took. The minimum size for a good conventional compost is a cubic metre, so you need to be in that ballpark for any chance of success IMO.
     
  18. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    I'm just going to toss this out again, I think I've mentioned it before, but it keeps working and I'm so happy about it!

    Compost under pressure is medium speed and takes little effort. In about 6 weeks with one turn most of the leaves (not sticks) are black and crumbly.

    I use tumblers, but I've switched over to just doing the kitchen scraps that the rodents haul away in a closed garbage can with high, high levels of carbon, then when the contents gets beyond what the critters are interested in, I shovel it into the bigger pile.

    I build a high carbon pile, 3 feet by 3 feet ( 1 meter, approx?) inside stiff metal wire fencing panels, not the large hog wire, but the more narrow 2" wire openings, layered with some manure and whatever greens are around, but not much. pour in some urine or coffee grounds It's in the shade, I wet it down as I build, top it with black plastic, and put at least 6 heavy concrete blocks on top of the plastic. I walk away for three weeks and that pile will become about 50% done, no kidding! The edges will look untouched, but you'll be surprised when you open it up.

    Then I do one turn with a large hoe, rewet, pour on some urine or coffee grounds, recover, stacking on the blocks again, and walk away for another couple weeks. This saves so much time and effort in turning a large pile. And I think it's a really interesting twist on not needing as much oxygen in the pile as we've been led to believe :)
     
  19. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    People who make comercially compost out of green waste say that a compost needsat least six weeks. And they have much better conditions, because their heaps are really big and heat up to 70 °C. They have usually an automatic macine which turns the compost. On the smaller scale it is mixed with a cateerpillar.

    This is a good income source for farmers! Need to make a contract with a town/city council about separate collection and try to gert money for turning the waste into compost and then selling the compost.

    Most of them don't use tumblers but there were trials.
     
  20. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    The green waste compost has some pretty woody stuff in there Hedwig, plus it doesn't have the ideal C/N ratios - that's why it takes a bit longer to fully break down compared to say a Berkley compost.
     

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