Monday, March 24, 2008

Thinking about a Compost Tumbler

Some discarded green onion roots are sprouting in my compost bin. Hmmm, that's not good is it? Or is that normal? I should have put some black plastic over the top of the compost bin this winter, but I didn't think of that until Saturday when I saw the onions. I'm going to give it a good turn this week, and then finally put that plastic down. The onions won't sprout if there isn't sun. Ha!

On Sunday Chip and I visited my grandparents for Easter. We drove up to Koscuisko for lunch with my mom's side of the family, and then we made our way across the county to the Bishop Family Egg Hunt. After we found a few eggs (there is a hunt for the kiddies and a more difficult hunt for the adults) we drove down the hill to my other granny's. The men watched the Memphis vs. Mississippi State basketball game (Chip was the only guy pulling for Memphis), and the ladies talked. And we talked. And we talked. I love those country weekends.

My grandmother and I got to talking about my garden, and she had some good advice for me. I complained about how it is taking seemingly forever for the compost to be "ready". She thinks that I should probably start another compost pile. I only have one now, and I'm adding new stuff to it every day. The compost will be "ready" much faster if I leave it alone for awhile, and I can't leave it alone if I have only one bin. What would I do with all that kitchen waste?

So, I am thinking about getting a tumbler. I like the idea of getting a tumbler because I hear they are supposed to work faster. Hopefully I could load up some of that not-quite-ready compost into the tumbler and have the brown gold I've been hoping for in only a few weeks.

Who out there has a compost tumbler? What do you think of it? Do they work as good as all the ads claim? Or, if you have only one bin like me, what's your secret for getting the stuff ready quicker? I need help!


jodi said...

I'm testing a tumbler composter, but we have different gardening conditions, so I can't really advise you on it yet. The company sent mine in mid-November, and it held heat quite well until the cold snap in December. At that time what was in the composter froze, and though I've added to it faithfully since then, everything is frozen into one big lump. Had I started it in summer, or earlier in the fall, it would have worked better.
My other compost is a heap; just a chaotic heap of goodies from mushroom compost to hay and straw to manure to weeds etc. What I did to kickstart it in the beginning was to add a LOT of seaweed both mixed in and on top. It heated the pile up really well and within a few weeks that initial pile had broken down nicely into compost--not perfectly crumbly, mind you, but I could use quite a bit. I don't know how far you are from access to seaweed (I know where Mississippi is, but I'm a bit vague on how big it is, how far you are from the coastline) but it does wonders for a compost heap.
I'm enjoying your blog, incidentally. I think I've been here before, but sometimes I don't comment, and sometimes comments get eaten by Blogger, too.

Lisa Blair said...

Jodi, thanks for all the great info! Wow, it sounds like the seaweed really worked for you. Awesome! The Mississippi Gulf Coast is only a few hours from me, but I never go down there. I might have to look for something else to add to my pile.

I don't think I'm going to purchase that tumbler just yet. Here in Mississippi it most certainly wouldn't freeze solid, so I guess that would be a good thing! I am going to put a little more effort into my pile and hope I get some brown gold soon.

Judy said...

Hi Lisa - stumbled upon your blog. My parents have a compost tumbler and LOVE it. It is really low-maintenance and is out in their yard like a fixture. Theirs makes the best compost I've seen in a good long while.

I think what you are doing is great, but I agree with your mom. Start another pile. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I use a tumbler for my cooking pile, and a wire bin for the pile I'm adding to. The system works well. Still takes about 6 months to get really good compost, though. I am mostly happy to keep so many things from the trash can. The eventual compost is like a bonus.