Compost Tumblers Great For Small Spaces and Tidy Gardeners
I purchased this Tumbleweed Composter from Clean Air Gardening and I love it. The tumbler was expensive but worth every penny, and not to mention my time in the garden. The roll up your sleeves and grab a pitchfork method just didn’t appeal to me. I spend enough energy weeding, mulching, digging, watering, transplanting, and pruning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against building your bin structure from scratch or buying a cheaper, static bin. I just don’t have the time or the space.
Why A Compost Tumbler?
I have a descent size yard (80 by 90 feet) with established perennial an vegetable beds, so ripping out my plants to build a 3-bin composting system was not an option. I also didn’t have the space for a bin that required a pitch fork to turn and aerate the material. I needed a composter that would produce compost quickly, keep critters out, was low on the odor meter, and used the least amount of space possible. The Tumbleweed was the perfect match for me. >>Compost Bin Buyer’s Guide
The instructions were straight forward, and I assembled the bin in about 20 minutes. Clean Air Gardening also provides helpful how-to videos. The bin is only about 22 lbs and super easy to move around the yard. I ultimately chose an area on the side of the house and away from the neighbors (photo). The two twist-lock lids make for easy filling and keep animals out of the pile. Some people complain about how hard tumblers are to flip, but I have no trouble even when the bin is full.
Building A Compost Pile
The basic compost pile is made up of equal parts brown material (carbon) and green material (nitrogen). Brown material includes dry leaves, hay, sawdust, straw, wood chips, and woody prunings. Green material includes grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, crushed eggshells, and manure from cows, horses, goats, chicken, and rabbits (NOT your pet dog or cat). Meat and dairy products, weeds, and diseased and insect infested plants should stay far away from your compost piles. Water and air circulation also help to create optimal conditions for the little organisms that breakdown raw material. >>More Helpful Compost Know-How
Tips For Faster Compost
- Collect all your material in advance and add to your pile all at once. Your pile should be about 3 feet by 3 feet to heat up properly. Colder piles take longer to decompose.
- Chop up kitchen scraps, shred leaves with your mower, and chop larger twigs into smaller pieces (roughly 3/4 to 2 inches). Smaller particles decompose faster.
- Layer green and brown material, add water, then mix together. Your pile should be damp like a wrung-out sponge.
- Place your bin in the sun. Heat helps activate the microorganisms that breakdown raw material. For warmer, dry areas, place your bin in shade for part of the day to keep the pile from drying out.
Troubleshooting Compost Problems
Not everyone will get their pile completely odor-free or to the right temperature the first time. Having too much or too little of a particular material can cause problems. If your compost pile starts to get stinky, then you know you have too much of one material. Good compost should smell earthy, not like a garbage can. Remember the equal parts green and brown materials when building your pile. Most compost problems are easy to fix.
- ROTTEN ODOR Pile too wet and lacks oxygen. SOLUTION: add a layer of brown material or turn pile to aerate.
- AMMONIA ODOR Too much nitrogen (green material). SOLUTION: add more brown material and turn pile.
- PILE NOT HOT ENOUGH Too dry or too much brown material. SOLUTION: Add water and turn pile or add more green material.
- PILE ATTRACTS PESTS Kitchen scraps on surface or meat and dairy products added. SOLUTION: Bury kitchen scraps in pile and remove meat and dairy products.
Composting can be easy or a labor intensive chore. Take the time to find a composter that is right for you and your garden. Just remember, the more convenient the composter, the more money you’ll pay.