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New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 Toplef10New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
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.

New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 I22gcj10New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 14dhcg10

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New Lifetime Compost Tumbler..

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Post  Hawgwild 5/10/2022, 9:38 am

Good deal...I'm happy with mine.  Put off till you give yourself a long afternoon to put it together. You'll see when you get it, but there are little diamonds and triangles on the round end panel and the cross panels. Just make sure they are matched up and aligned perfectly with putting it together.

It's a little learning curve to get the compost to get hot and work. Definitely not as fasl as a regular compost pile but mine are starting to do pretty good. Got it a little to wet to start with but looking good now.

Scottie
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Post  Soose 5/10/2022, 9:56 am

Sigh. I was hoping it would work faster than our previous compost bins, which are really too small and don't get turned frequently enough. (Though now that we have dug out and revamped the one he's using, my son is tossing it each time. He needs more brown to add. )

I think we'll start some much larger piles. A business nearby has truck bed liners, used, for free. I was thinking of using a couple to hold bigger piles. Or three?

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Post  OhioGardener 5/10/2022, 10:06 am

Soose wrote: I'm hoping this composter won't attract any critters, and we'll be ok with it up against the house there.

The only reason it would attract any critters is if you have too much green and not enough brown in the tumbler.  If you have a good balance of greens and browns the compost will have a very sweet earthy smell and no critters are interested in it.

My compost tumblers produce completed compost in a month after a section is filled, and there is never a bad smell from them.

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Post  Soose 5/11/2022, 11:48 pm

Lifetime composter won't come until tomorrow...

Meanwhile, I was in Aldi, and found a "compost starter" product today.  Opinions, please? New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 Img_2028
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Post  Soose 5/11/2022, 11:52 pm

New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 Img_2029New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 Img_2030
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Post  sanderson 5/12/2022, 4:00 am

Not needed.  The raw materials that will be put in the tumbler are loaded with different microorganisms. As the temps rise above 104*F, the mesophylic (68-104*F) organisms go into spore form to survive the coming heat, and the thermophylic (104-150*F +) microbes take over.  As the temps drop, the mesophylic spores grow and replace the hot temp microbes.  It is now in the maturing stage where more decaying is done.  Just Mother Nature.

pg.134-137 "Teaming with Microbes"

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Post  Soose 5/12/2022, 6:58 am

I knew there had to be an answer to that question of how the microbes survived the heat of a pile. Very good short explanation, Sanderson. Appreciate it.

( Our library has the book on Hoopla/digital. But we are scrambling. )
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Post  OhioGardener 5/12/2022, 8:11 am

+1  What Sanderson said.

The clue to how unneeded that Compost Starter is the statement on the package, "Derived from Alfalfa Meal and Kelp Meal".  In other words, "From Nature".

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Post  Hawgwild 5/12/2022, 9:43 am

The compost starter may not be needed but I use it anyway, especially in the tumblers. Just think it gives the greens a little extra kick to get going... I also now use alfalfa pellets as the greens in my compost. Wet it down first then apply. Getting some real good temps in the mid to upper 140 degree range using it.. Picked it up at Tractor Supply.

I did read the book that sanderson mentioned. It's really good and helps understand more what is happening in the soil. Pretty in depth for sure.

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Post  OhioGardener 5/12/2022, 12:03 pm

Hawgwild wrote:The compost starter may not be needed but I use it anyway, especially in the tumblers.

Just remember that each time you start a new batch of compost in the tumbler there will be plenty of microbial life left in the tumbler from the previous batch.

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Post  sanderson 5/12/2022, 6:52 pm

OhioGardener wrote:. . . Just remember that each time you start a new batch of compost in the tumbler there will be plenty of microbial life left in the tumbler from the previous batch.
Amen

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Post  Soose 5/13/2022, 12:06 am

The Lifetime tumbler came in this afternoon.  My two guys assembled it. Appreciate the hints given.  They're pretty good at this stuff and didn't have problems, though it was tricky a bit, they said.  The instructions were good and the hardware was in the shrink pkg and properly labeled, well done. 

It's sturdy and we're happy with it.  ( The only qualm is the screws on the doors with those plastic captive nuts on the inside.  Those will have to be replaced soon, think the plastic on some cracked? ) 

Now, where am I going to stow the compost thermometer and the little orange clip they provided to signify one side of the tumbler is cooking and should not be added to?  lol  (Maybe there's a place on the tumbler to clip it for storage, I haven't looked.)

They toted it around to the back yard at dusk.  Which is when we realized the spot I had selected is overgrown with weeds. (We have been busy with the garden, no time to take care of weeds and we have a few construction piles in the way,  preventing getting the tractor in the area to mow.  Still a construction zone.  Must do something about that as it's already out of hand.  ) 

I had a brainstorm and went to get one of the truck bed liners from the new compost area.  They are lightweight, easy to move.  The largest two I had snagged at the truck place  fits  but the wheel wells interfere with the frontmost legs of the composter.   But I set it in there anyway, with the composter 90 degrees to the house (and lengthwise on the truck bed liner).  Unless I come up with a different idea.  Might clear out the area and continue the asphalt roll roofing I laid under the water tote nextdoor.  Meanwhile, this bed will keep most of the weeds down,  and it provides a nice apron area for playing with the tumblers.   We'll start loading it up tomorrow!

I think I'm going to ask neighbors for paper shreds.  I collected a peat moss bag full of grass/field raking yesterday when I laid the bed liners down.  It's kind of long stuff -- could put it and some leaves into a burn barrel, weed eat it first if I get the string trimmer out.  I want to save the mushroom compost that didn't screen for the potato bags or it would be ideal brown matter.

Happy with this purchase!
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Post  Soose 5/13/2022, 12:18 am

Oh yes, I'm wondering now about covering this tumbler to prolong it's life span.  I did read, Sanderson had a tarp.

We've picked the perfect place for easiest kitchen access.  Not a good place for a tarp or roof. 
It's just outside the planned arbor roof.  If we ever do put that arbor roof in! 
In fact, depending on final positioning, this location might get some eaves runoff.  Not good.

Something like a porch swing with a canopy over it ...  we do have a metal swing and don't use the canopy part,
since the swing is sitting on the porch.  So that canopy section of the frame... if it could be adapted to this composter,
would give it a self-cover.  Hmm.  Might not be wide enough. 

Will let the thought simmer.  Too many other irons in the fire unless it can be done very quickly.

(Tomorrow I go to shovel a little horse manure. For next year.  And build a connection with a local private stable owner. 
Will watch for gardens, and avoid poison ivy, lol. )
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Post  Hawgwild 5/13/2022, 8:59 am

Glad you got it together with no issues. Think the red plastic clip goes on the side that is composting. I really don't use that as I have both sides composting. Didn't see any point of moving compost from one side to the other.

May at least tape a garbage bag over the top of the bins. If it rains it will likely soak what the compost that is started..

Scottie
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Post  katjohn83 5/16/2022, 5:41 pm

I saw some concerns in the thread about parts rusting on the lifetime composters. I bought the 80 gallon about 5 or six years ago. Within a year they started rusting. I contacted lifetime and they sent me a complete hardware kit. I am now 5 or 6 year later and I have not used the new kit yet. Yes the parts are rusted and don;t look pristine but what does out in the garden? So in another 4 or 5 years I'll replace all of the hardware and get another 8-10 years out of it. Lifetime did me right.
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Post  Soose 5/16/2022, 7:16 pm

That's great to know, katjohn83! Not the same model as mine, but says a lot. My only concern is the person at their customer service line who told me clearly if we buy it elsewhere, only a manufacturer's defect would be honored. I guess rusting parts in one year... Dunno.

Anyway, where did you buy your composter?
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Post  OhioGardener 5/16/2022, 7:26 pm

Soose wrote: My only concern is the person at their customer service line who told me clearly if we buy it elsewhere, only a manufacturer's defect would be honored.  I guess rusting parts in one year... 

I would think rusting/corroded parts is a manufacturer's defect, and would be covered by warranty.

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Post  Soose 5/17/2022, 10:24 am

OhioGardener wrote:I would think rusting/corroded parts is a manufacturer's defect, and would be covered by warranty.

You would think.  From a few reviews like the one in this thread, LifeTime seems a safe bet, doesn't it?  I think many companies would simply claim that rust is normal in this environment.  Experience is what made me wary.  (Along with getting caught between seller and the manufacturer of other goods before with each passing the buck.)

Two anecdotes:

My first new car, over two decades ago, suddenly stopped one day when the carb float -- a little bitty 1 cu inch piece of thin plastic that works like a float in a toilet tank, letting gas through or not -- sunk full of gas.  Two weeks later, we got stranded again when the second identical float in the dual-float carb sunk. Same failure. The new replacement floats had a design change, a reinforcing strut along a seam in the plastic float that could and would spring a slow leak -- and sink.  Honda never admitted they had a problem.  That should have been a recall.

Some years ago, we had a brand new HVAC gas pak on a new house.  After 9 months, my husband discovered a bunch of rust inside. I forget what part it was but he has been studying HVAC systems since a child discovering an old ammonia fridge or freezer on his grandmother's porch -- for fun, seriously -- and he was not happy.  It was a design flaw.  The company, Carrier, came out to look but said rust was normal.  That's where that system eventually failed. 

So maybe I've been overly careful buying this composter.  I see it as an investment and want to expect a reasonable life span out of it.  I have learned to be wary when warranties depend upon a company's own estimation. 

[ But some companies do stand behind their products.  Instantpot is one that does, just fyi. Had two warranty experiences on two small appliances in the last two years, and the company was outstanding. Electrolux also - recalled a whole line to repair a flaw at great expense - but I don't know if they've been bought out since. ]
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Post  katjohn83 5/17/2022, 5:17 pm

Soose wrote:That's great to know, katjohn83!  Not the same model as mine, but says a lot.  My only concern is the person at their customer service line who told me clearly if we buy it elsewhere, only a manufacturer's defect would be honored.  I guess rusting parts in one year...  Dunno.  

Anyway, where did you buy your composter?
Walmart.com
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Post  OhioGardener 6/1/2022, 4:35 pm

This is what I like to see when I go out to check the compost tumblers. This section of the compost tumbler was started the day before yesterday using almost 10 gallons of juice bar pulp, some Comfrey leaves, and about 1/2 gallon of pine pellets.  It is hard to see the temperature on the thermometer due to the glare, but it is reading 140ºF, which is a very good temperature for two-day-old compost.  Happy with it!
New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 Compos32

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Post  Soose 6/1/2022, 8:03 pm

That's impressive! I want to get there. Am I going to have to break down and buy pine pellets for browns?
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Post  OhioGardener 6/1/2022, 8:12 pm

Soose wrote:That's impressive! I want to get there. Am I going to have to break down and buy pine pellets for browns?

Not if you have enough browns, high carbon browns. Shredded cardboard, shredded newspaper, etc., are high carbon browns, too.  I use pine pellets because I have a lot of greens, but almost no browns. The abundance of greens, along with the purchased pine pellets, allow me to create 6 to 8 cu ft of compost every other week.

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Post  OhioGardener 6/2/2022, 2:21 pm

Soose wrote:That's impressive! I want to get there.

As an addendum to the comments I made yesterday, I'll expand a little bit.  In order to make good compost it is important, somewhat critical, to have a Carbon to Nitrogen ration of 30 to 1  (C:N = 30:1). In order to achieve that 30:1 ratio, the quantity and C:N ratio of each ingredient must be known.

For example, vegetable scraps have a C:N of 15:1, while coffee grounds have a C:N of 20:1.  Enough browns need to be added to bring those ratios up to at least 30:1 (I prefer 40:1, though).  So, if you have dried leaves with a C:N of 50:1 you need enough leaves so that the quantity of vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and leaves are in such proportions as to create a ratio of 30:1 to 40:1.  (Remember, if you are using pine pellets instead of leaves that they expand significantly at a 4:1 ratio.  One cup of pine pellets equals 1 quart of sawdust.  Pine sawdust has a C:N of 300:1).

This chart and description from Cornell Composting offers some insight to this process.
New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 2 Compos33
(Read full article at: http://compost.css.cornell.edu/chemistry.html)

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Post  Soose 6/2/2022, 8:24 pm

OhioGardener wrote:A day or two later I might dump in the kitchen scraps from the house, throw in a cup of pine pellets and tumble it a few times. 
 
TY very much, OhioGardener, for the help.  I remember reading about the carbon to nitrogen ratio here elsewhere in the past weeks, as you discussed it with someone else.  I just have not had my full attention on compost, or much at all, scrambling to get the garden infrastructure in.  And I tend to forget info and ideas I have been exposed to right now.  (Much coming my way.) 

So to be sure I'm doing the math right, for that additional cup of pine pellets, how much volume is your kitchen scrap pile?

I am trying to follow in your footsteps.  The grass I gave my son for browns, in my haste,  is not working well...  we need something that will generate more compost, more quickly. 

I didn't want to buy browns, but just realized that it's a lot cheaper than buying compost. And we need  and are going to keep needing a LOT of compost -- healthy stuff! 

I'm going to have him empty his current tumbler that is not doing so well -- has it been about 1.5 or 2 weeks since he started? -- into the large outdoor compost area, and start over.  Get it right this time.

I also have juice pulp, but my kitchen waste overpowers the juice pulp part of it (and I just combine the two).   This proportion of our veg waste to juice pulp will change as Summer progresses since we juice more -- I've juiced watermelon rind, our first of the season, and kiwi's. I know you get your juice pulp from a large juice bar, an idea for future. 

Today, I went by Tractor Supply and bought a couple of bags of the pine pellets -- actually got two that were $2/bag because they were torn open, a bargain.  I was going to buy a couple of more intact bags, but reasoned it's only 15 minutes away, and I can return, let's see how much this makes. 

Hmm, I think we could stand keeping a record for now, to help in case we go wrong again. Memory not being strong here right now.

I have some "mineral tubs" to store the pellets in, with lids, by the tumbler, and we can put a quart scoop in there, couldn't be easier for him once he knows. I have copied some of your posts off into a Word doc to print for him to read, so he and my husband and I know how to do this. The thermometer is nearby in a storage cabinet.  We should hopefully be set to start repeating your success.  Stay tuned.  (Unless you hear something wrong in what I have said...?) 

I am still searching back for some of your other compost threads that I remember reading, but wanted to go ahead and reply here.

Thanks so very much for the help!
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Post  OhioGardener 6/3/2022, 10:22 am

Soose wrote:So to be sure I'm doing the math right, for that additional cup of pine pellets, how much volume is your kitchen scrap pile?

It seems that the reply I posted last evening did not survive, so I'll try this again.  Soon, very soon, you will find it second nature to approximate the amount of each type of ingredient to add to the compost bin. It is all base on the volume of the item and it's C:N ratio.  To make it really simple, lets assume you have equal amounts of vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and dried leaves.  Using their respective C:N ratio, that would give us 15,20,60 equals 95.  Divide that by the quantity and that gives us 95/3 = 31.67 which equals a 32:1 ratio  - perfect.

But, lets assume you are using pine pellets instead of leaves. Pine sawdust has a C:N of approximately 300:1, much higher than leaves.  That would give us 15,20,300 = 335.   335/3 = 111.67.  A C:N ratios of 112:1 is will take years to compost, and must be brought down closer to 30:1.  That means much less sawdust must be used.  So, to change the number on the right to 30 we need to change the math so that 300 becomes closer to 60.  That means that we need to use approximately 1/5th the amount of sawdust (300/60 = 5).  So, if we have 1 gallon of vegetable scraps, and one gallon of coffee grounds, we need to use 1/5th a gallon of sawdust.  That will give us that desired 15,20,60 mix to accomplish a 30:1 compost.  1/5th of a gallon is approximately 3 cups.

That math may seem complicated at first, but it is quite simple actually.  Just keep a table of the C:N ratios handy, and it becomes second nature. And, you will soon learn to use the smell of the compost to adjust the greens or browns as necessary. If the compost smells sweet and forest-like, it is great. If it smells of ammonia it has too much green and needs some browns added. If it has no smell and looks dry, it has too much brown and needs some greens added.

Note: Grass clippings are normally always considered a green, even when they are dried. When green they a low C:N ratio of approx 12:1. When they are dried their C:N ratio becomes something like 20:1.

BTW, Oregon State University Extension Office has an excellent document titled Master Composting Program that has a lot of useful information which you may enjoy reading.  Download it at:
https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/1/ntosoils-compostingandthectonratio.pdf

____________________________

"In short, the soil food web feeds everything you eat and helps keep your favorite planet from getting too hot. Be nice to it."  ~ Diane Miessler, "Grow Your Soil"
OhioGardener
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