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To those of you with compost tumblers

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Post  Partsgal on 10/8/2013, 5:52 pm

I have read quite a few of the posts in the composting area. I recently bought and have received a tumbler. The instructions are pretty simple. This one says to add everything all at once and do not add more except in the case of too wet or dry. I am wondering since we in our area are heading into winter do they work in the winter as well or should I wait til spring? I am not going to have my yard stuff ready for a while yet so I might be just at winter when I get it filled. Our front deck faces the south so I plan to put it there, or would it be better if I keep it in the garage? Any help will be appreciated!
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/8/2013, 8:50 pm

We have such mild winters that I can't really give you advice that would apply to where you are.

However, here's a little tip I learned.  On your first batch be sure you use some old compost to "seed" your new tumbler and then don't wash it out  in between loads.  It's sort of like yogurt cultures, the bacteria need to be innoculated into the tumbler to get things rolling.

I have made my compost adding constantly and I can tell you it just never seems to get all the way done, so I would absolutely do what they say :-)  Or at least add ingredients to the point where you get full and then stop adding.

My tumbler has never heated up much, but it still has composted the material over time.  

Good luck!
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Post  jimmy cee on 10/8/2013, 10:17 pm

Last season was my first for a tumbler, worked ok, however all I got was a ball of gook.
Not giving up, here is what I am going to do this year.
All kitchen scraps, turn every day or whenever I pass by., add enough browns to keep it from becoming to wet.
I dont think I kept enough brown material, it became to wet and balled up...
People have had success with tumblers, work with it and eventually you'll succeed.
To those of you with compost tumblers Compos10
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Post  donnainzone5 on 10/9/2013, 11:23 am

It also helps to chop things up a bit.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/9/2013, 12:20 pm

I keep a bag of shredded bills and material right next to the tumbler and add it each time I add kitchen scraps.  I also have added leaves when available or sawdust that we get from a friend of ours who does woodwork.  

Now I have a huge pile of woodchips for mulch (mixed materials small branches with leaves from a tree service).  I assume I could add that as my brown as well.  I'm going to experiment with it with the next batch I do.
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Post  jimmy cee on 10/9/2013, 6:24 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:It also helps to chop things up a bit.
I think this statement says alot when it come to composting.
Tiny pieces are so much better
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/9/2013, 8:45 pm

My husband is so sweet to me that he spends the time to chop up anything that's too large that's in my compost pile bowl before taking it outside.  (Forget roses - that man knows the way to this girl's heart <3 !!)

It really does make a difference, I heard it explained this way:  The more surface area you have the more effective the bacteria are in breaking down the material.  So when you chop a large piece of material into small pieces you massively increase the surface area they can work on.
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Post  Partsgal on 10/22/2013, 3:58 pm

On the topic of chopping do you need to chop finer things like carrot and potato peelings? Also Jimmy Cee I see that your picture of your tumbler is in the snow. How did it work in the winter? I was wondering if maybe I should keep mine in the garage or is it okay outside?
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Post  No_Such_Reality on 10/22/2013, 4:46 pm

I just refilled my tumbler. Mostly as a holding device. I tend to use my big home made trash barrel and just let things rot.

Anyway, I found wonderful black gold this weekend courtesy of my trees out front. Spent Sunday cleaning the gutters. Last time I clean them was this time last year so I have a year worth of leaves in the gutter that for most of the year collect drippings from condensation. Half leaves and half black gold came out.

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Post  Partsgal on 10/22/2013, 5:11 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:I just refilled my tumbler.  Mostly as a holding device. I tend to use my big home made  trash barrel and just let things rot.

Anyway, I found wonderful black gold this weekend courtesy of my trees out front.  Spent Sunday cleaning the gutters.  Last time I clean them was this time last year so I have a year worth of leaves in the gutter that for most of the year collect drippings from condensation.   Half leaves and half black gold came out.  
Nice! I would try that but our gutters are too high for me!  I am anxious to get my tumbler full and get started.  Our fall has been so wet that I haven't been able to gather my leaves yet-going to do some tonite I hope. I don't know if my composting will be successful now given the time of year we are moving in to. Next week is supposed to be in the 30's-yuck! Looks to be a miserable winter here.  I didn't have much luck with my Mel's Mix mixture this first year.  I had five different kinds of compost but I think I ended up with too much nitrogen. So I'm hoping I can make some good compost to even it out some.


Last edited by camprn on 10/23/2013, 11:58 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed quote box)
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Post  jimmy cee on 10/22/2013, 5:14 pm

@Partsgal wrote:On the topic of chopping do you need to chop finer things like carrot and potato peelings? Also Jimmy Cee I see that your picture of your tumbler is in the snow.  How did it work in the winter?  I was wondering if maybe I should keep mine in the garage or is it okay outside?
Hi Partsgal
I keep my tumbler close by during winter.
Moved to under our deck cover last year, either way, wasn't successful.
Maybe this year.
My compost piles are doing great tho.
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Post  Partsgal on 10/22/2013, 5:19 pm

I know I should ask this somewhere else, but how do you get the post to appear in the gray and then reply to it? I will be a long time newbie!
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Post  plantoid on 10/22/2013, 5:29 pm

@Partsgal wrote:I know I should ask this somewhere else, but how do you get the post to appear in the gray and then reply to it?  I will be a long time newbie!
 
Click on the right hand side top green button on the thread post  which says " quote  "
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Post  Partsgal on 10/22/2013, 5:34 pm

Thanks for the help, and all of your replies!
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Post  GWN on 10/22/2013, 11:48 pm

This will be my third year with a tumbler and reading between the lines of others with tumblers... I would guess that i am not alone in saying that it has not been the incredible success that i had envisioned from the pictures. I have several other sorts of composting piles so feel I know composting pretty well.
the tumbler to me tends to just create a mass of muck.
In some ways it is good here because it does freeze and I have learned that freezing in itself really breaks things down well.
I tend to use the tumbler in the winter and then some time in the spring take out all the muck and add it to another pile.
It is essentially compost, but not the fluffy stuff we are all looking towards.


I loaded mine with sawdust last year with the hopes that adding browns would counter all the greens I would be adding over the winter, it helped a bit and the compost was a bit better.. I guess I need to do that again this year as well.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/23/2013, 2:37 am

Same with me GWN, I haven't created a good batch of compost out of my tumbler yet. The last batch was wet, hard balls. I grabbed it and mixed it in with my last batch of quick compost.

I just sort of use it to store kitchen waste until I have enough to make a big batch. I certainly wouldn't have bought it if I'd known this was the results I would get.
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Post  jimmy cee on 10/23/2013, 8:18 am

GWN
I just lugged my tumbler in from the yard, this year I am going to load it up with carbon material and go light on the greens, all kitchen scraps only.
Last year was a first for me, tumbler and compost in general.
I had a 5 gal bucket full of pears, sat there for a couple of months when I decided to dump it in the tumbler.
Before I could stop the entire bottom was liquid...what a mess that was...
We have a pear tree that supplies about 50 five gal buckets for composting.
Some for eating also.
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Post  GWN on 10/23/2013, 9:54 am

AH yes the liquid can be a problem My first few years with it, I had LOTS of tomato stuff from canning tomatoes....This year I have tried not to put that stuff in.
I am glad that this thread was started because I have not given up yet
I am thinking of sifting through my wood chip pile and putting some of the smaller wood chips into the tumbler, both the keep the balls from forming, and to soak up some of the excess liquids.
I mostly use it in the winter. BUT the frost works to break stuff down
I am going to go out with my chipper today and chips some stuff and experiment with the tumbler
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Post  Partsgal on 10/23/2013, 11:50 am

Well it's obvious that there will be a lot of trial and error with the tumbler.  It's good to know the frost helps with the break down, because I was wondering if I should try to set it up in the garage for winter.  Have any of you used compost starter?
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Post  camprn on 10/23/2013, 11:52 am

I use dried blood, a  a shovel full of finished compost and water as activation ingredients.

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To those of you with compost tumblers WxBanner?bannertype=wu_clean2day_cond&airportcode=KEEN&ForcedCity=Keene&ForcedState=NH&zipcode=03431&language=EN
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Post  camprn on 10/23/2013, 11:55 am

@Partsgal wrote:On the topic of chopping do you need to chop finer things like carrot and potato peelings? 
Nope those are fine as is, plenty small. I do cut down anything that's larger than a few inches in length or across.

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Post  Partsgal on 10/24/2013, 9:49 pm

Here I am with another question.  From what I've read pine needles need to be used spariingly (sp) I went to gather some this evening-I found where I went to gather that there were more dark gray than the usual rust colored (newer ones) are the gray ones still the same Ph that the rust ones are? By the way I'm filling a tumbler. Still a newbie!
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Post  rgrider on 1/3/2014, 12:32 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I keep a bag of shredded bills and material right next to the tumbler and add it each time I add kitchen scraps.  I also have added leaves when available or sawdust that we get from a friend of ours who does woodwork.  

Now I have a huge pile of woodchips for mulch (mixed materials small branches with leaves from a tree service).  I assume I could add that as my brown as well.  I'm going to experiment with it with the next batch I do.
Hello, It is my understanding that little to no sawdust or wood chips should be added to a compost. Grass clippings yes, pine needles maybe, but not wood. The reason I've been told is that it changes the acidity too much and robs the garden of valuable nitrogen. 

I'm curious if you can use red worms with a compost tumbler, does anyone have experience with them?
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Post  Veteran Compost on 1/3/2014, 4:39 pm

Any finished compost should up having a neutral pH.  So, some pine needles or other acidic materials shouldn't make too much trouble as long as they aren't a huge part of your raw materials.  Just let the composting process run its course and you should end up with compost near neutral.

Wood chips and sawdust are a great carbon source or "brown" material in a tumbler.  When mixed with "greens" (grass clippings, food scraps, etc) the woody material is able to break down.

The only concern when using woody material or any carbonaceous material is that they need to be mixed with nitrogen rich materials (greens) in order to break down completely.  First off, you want some good looking compost, not something that is a lumpy mulch.  Second, and more importantly, if carbon material has not broken down and you add that compost to your garden - the carbon material will rob nitrogen from your soil to aid its breakdown.  When garden plants and unfinished compost compete for nitrogen in the soil, the compost always wins.  So, you end up with plants that have a nitrogen deficiency and may end up dying out. 

So, use that sawdust and wood chips, just make sure you have some greens mixed in to help it all break down.
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Post  jimmy cee on 1/3/2014, 4:45 pm

Excellent info
I love composting
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