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Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Tips for compost tumbler

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Post  OhioGardener 12/19/2018, 2:58 pm

The compost tumbler is doing a good job of making compost. It got down to 21°F last night, and up to 35°F today, but the middle of the compost in the tumbler measured 145°F.  So far the insulation seems to be doing its job.


Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 Temp10

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Post  Kelejan 12/19/2018, 4:09 pm

It looks like it is working then.  I bet the worms love it. Very Happy
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Post  sanderson 12/24/2018, 3:17 pm

Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 3170584802

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Post  OhioGardener 3/27/2019, 7:33 pm

This evening I went out to add some kitchen scraps to the compost tumbler, and was surprised when I opened the door and steam poured out of the tumbler. I went back to the house to get the thermometer (but, forgot the camera), and found the compost was cooking at 130°F.  Pretty good considering it has been in the mid-40's during the day, and mid-20's at night.  I have 3 different tumbler sections going, and 2 of them are ready to empty as soon as I can start working the beds for spring planting. The 3rd one, the one that was steaming, was just started a week ago, so it has a ways to go yet - I'll still be adding kitchen scraps and the neighbor's juicing pulp with pine pellets for the next few weeks before it starts its final composting.  We're supposed to be up into the high-50's to low 60's now, so spring activity will soon be starting.

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Post  ralitaco 3/28/2019, 11:01 pm

Here is something I never thought I'd say...I need some horse manure.
I need to start another compost pile
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Post  sanderson 3/31/2019, 11:13 pm

@ralitaco wrote:Here is something I never thought I'd say...I need some horse manure.
I need to start another compost pile
Razz I remember your compost set up. Do you want to post a photo again?

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Post  ralitaco 4/1/2019, 8:59 pm

@sanderson wrote: I remember your compost set up.  Do you want to post a photo again?
Of course I will...I don't want to become your enemy (see Senseless Banter thread for an explanation)

I got the idea from other threads and decided to make my own 3 bin setup.
The plan was/is to use one bin to collect fresh ingredients until it is full. 
Then use the neighboring bin to turn the pile. 
The 3rd bin is to store the finished product or to start a new pile.

Each bin is 3'x3'x3'

I had a couple of pallets and some scrap wood plus some old fencing. 
I built these about 3 years ago and they seem to be holding up ok.
I may take a closer look at the bottoms this season once I empty them. 

One thing I learned is that the holes in the fence are good for the fresh ingredients however the finer, finished product falls through. 
I plan to add weed cloth to the sides.



One of two free-standing binsTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-020


Two free-standing binsTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-019


Middle section created by adding a rear panelTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-018


Front view of the removable front panel before adding fencing. 
Each is 12" tall so 1, 2 or 3 can be removed for easier access to turn the pileTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-024


Side view of the removable front panel.
The opening needs to be just a bit wider than the 4x4 for easier slidingTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-025


Front panels in place showing how they can be stacked at various levelsTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-016


Full BinTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-017




My Sifting set up.
Again, I used scrap materials for this. 
The wheels are off a dead lawn mower. 

The front white piece of the track keeps popping off.
I need to figure out if that is due to the wood rotting or from the sled hitting it repeatedly as I roll it back and forth. 

I am considering remaking the sled with 1x6's, maybe even a 1x8 on the front end. 
The 2x4's have some weight and are a bit short (I have lots of material that falls over the front when sifting)


SledTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-022


The finished sifted productTips for compost tumbler - Page 6 2016-023
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Post  yolos 4/1/2019, 11:17 pm

Oh, I like your sifter with those wheels.  Maybe I will try something like that this fall.  I have the wheels and lots of hardware cloth and lots of scrap lumber.  And I love planning a project like this.
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Post  sanderson 4/5/2019, 5:02 pm

Ralitaco, thank you for posting these awesome photos. I really like your sifter. Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 3170584802

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Post  trolleydriver 4/5/2019, 6:11 pm

@sanderson wrote:Ralitaco, thank you for posting these awesome photos.  I really like your sifter. Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 3170584802
+1
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Post  OhioGardener 11/4/2019, 8:16 am

Went out to turn the compost tumblers yesterday, and a large chunk of the rusty metal door of the old original tumbler fell out and dropped some compost on the ground. Guess it is time to replace the tumbler.  That tumbler is one of the original ComposTumbler2 machines, from before the ComposTumbler was bought by Mantis, which I acquired used over 10 years ago.  Unfortunately, both sides of the tumbler are full of fall garden cleanup plants to be composted, and not finished compost.  I might have build a temporary compost bin and move all of the contents to it.  Meanwhile, I'll be on the search for a new compost tumbler for next spring....   Shocked 


This big one is the one that fell apart...
Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 Compos25

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Post  sanderson 11/4/2019, 5:06 pm

Bought used and got 10 years of service. Pretty good deal.

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Post  OhioGardener 11/4/2019, 6:24 pm

@sanderson wrote:Bought used and got 10 years of service.  Pretty good deal.

Yes, it has served me very well, but I'm going to miss it! Lots of good compost came out of that tumbler over the years.  The large size was especially useful in the fall when it was time to clean out the gardens for the winter - all of the vegetables were cut off at soil level and the tops we placed in this tumbler to be composted.   The smaller Jora tumbler I have is too small for that much material, so I will have to search for another large one.

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Post  has55 11/6/2019, 2:21 am

OG, have you consider building a johnson su compost  bioreactor?
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Post  OhioGardener 11/6/2019, 7:13 am

@has55 wrote:OG, have you consider building a johnson su compost  bioreactor?

No, I haven't.  I don't normally have enough compostables at one time to build a bioreactor.  I add a little each day or two to the compost tumbler until that section is full, and then start another section. The newly filled section then completed the compost process over the next month. With the two compost tumblers, I was emptying one section of finished compost every 30 days.  Now, though, I only have one compost tumbler, with 2 sections.

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Post  sanderson 11/9/2019, 4:29 am

Now that I have discontinued composting, I keep finding the Lifetime 80-gallon tumblers on Craig's List. tongue Just my luck.

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Post  OhioGardener 11/9/2019, 7:55 am

@sanderson wrote:Now that I have discontinued composting, I keep finding the Lifetime 80-gallon tumblers on Craig's List.  tongue  Just my luck.

Isn't that always the way?  Sad     I can't imagine giving up composting, as much of it as I use every year.  But, when I hit my 80's in a few years, I may rethink that strategy...

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Post  OhioGardener 3/1/2020, 4:32 pm

Put together a new Jora JK-270 Compost Tumbler today, and put it into use.  The old original ComposTumbler Twin rusted through and started dropping compost on the ground, so it had to be replaced.  The one on the left is the new one, and the one on the right is 5 years old.


Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 New_jo10

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Post  ralitaco 3/2/2020, 12:12 am

Looking good!!!
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Post  Dan in Ct 3/2/2020, 10:28 am

OhioGardener, do you have your compost tumblers on blocks, well for 2 reasons, one so they don't sink unevenly and get unlevel when loaded and two, so you get your wheelbarrow under easily. I like pictures, thank you for sharing and to all the other who post pictures. Perhaps when get to 80 you could open a Composting School charging tuition and have others learn the proper way. Not only would you still have compost but money for beer if I ever get to visit.
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Post  OhioGardener 3/2/2020, 10:57 am

@Dan in Ct wrote:OhioGardener, do you have your compost tumblers on blocks, well for 2 reasons, one so they don't sink unevenly and get unlevel when loaded and two, so you get your wheelbarrow under easily.

They are on blocks so I can get the wheelbarrow under them to empty it.  The old original ComposTumbler Twin that I had set much higher, and was never a problem to empty. But, when I got the first Jora composter, it set too low to get the wheelbarrow under it, and I didn't like the idea of emptying it into plastic bins and then moving to the wheelbarrow in order to get it to the garden. So, I set it up on some 4" blocks I had on hand. Problem solved.  

"I have too much compost," said no gardener ever.

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Post  OhioGardener 8/17/2020, 12:35 pm

Day before yesterday a neighbor called and said she had 12 quarts of old home canned tomatoes she wanted to get rid of, and wanted to know the best way to dispose of them.  I told her to bring them to me, and I would take care of them for her. I filled two 5-gallon buckets half full of pine pellets, and then dumped 6 jars of tomatoes in each bucket. After the jars were all emptied into the buckets, I covered the tops of them with more pine pellets. I left them to soak overnight, and yesterday afternoon I dumped the buckets into an empty section of one of the compost tumblers. This afternoon I went out to check on it, and was surprised at the amount of steam coming out of the tumbler. Got the compost thermometer to check the temp in the middle of the compost. After a little less than 24 hours, it is already cooking at 136ºF.  If it stays that hot for a few days, it should kill most of the tomato seeds and make some good compost. First time I have ever made a single-source compost.

Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 Compos27

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Post  OhioGardener 8/18/2020, 4:29 pm

Checked the tumbler today at 48 hours, and the compost was cooking at 160ºF before turning the tumbler. And, such a sweet smell the hot compost has with all of those tomatoes.

Tips for compost tumbler - Page 6 Right_10


Meanwhile, the other half of the tumbler has compost that has been processing for three weeks. It was still cooking at 102ºF, just barely in the "active" zone, before the tumbler was turned. The compost is normally finished in the tumbler at 4 weeks, so that side is nearly ready to move into the storage drum for aging.
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