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New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 Toplef10New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 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 3 I22gcj10New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 14dhcg10

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New Lifetime Compost Tumbler..

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Post  Soose 6/3/2022, 5:11 pm

OhioGardener wrote: Pine sawdust has a C:N of approximately 300:1, much higher than leaves.

OhioGardener, thanks so much for the example.  And the link...

Can I ask about pine, please?  Someone warned me about pine but I disregarded because I trust your success. Then a friend (long time organic gardener but not SFG)  just wrote me this:

(a friend) wrote:It is highly acidic and can kill a lot of beneficial organisms.  I never put it in my compost I put it around my azaleas which love the acidity when we were in Ca. They say no more then 10%.  Did you check your soil pH to see where you are to start? 

I had already told her there must be things we don't know about pine...  thanks. Will go start reading the link.
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Post  OhioGardener 6/3/2022, 6:26 pm

Soose wrote:
(a friend) wrote:It is highly acidic and can kill a lot of beneficial organisms.  I never put it in my compost I put it around my azaleas which love the acidity when we were in Ca. They say no more then 10%.  Did you check your soil pH to see where you are to start? 

I had already told her there must be things we don't know about pine...  thanks. Will go start reading the link.

Don't know who determined that pine sawdust is acidic, and wonder if they are confusing pine needles with pine sawdust.  From an old document on composting I found this: "100 percent pine wood-based substrates to have a pH range of 5.0 to 6.4 (depending on the season of harvest among other factors)".   A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral, and 6.4 is very, very slightly acidic. But, all of that is immaterial for the purpose of this discussion. Regardless of whether the starting organic material is acidic or alkaline, composting it will always tend towards neutral.

Likewise with the comment "Did you check your soil pH to see where you are to start? ".  If you are using MM, there is no need to test the "soil" pH.  The soilless mixture  of MM will always be very near neutral, and there is no benefit to testing.

But, being an engineer who loves experimenting I did a simple test. I took a cup of distilled water and soaked 1/4 cup of pine pellets in it.  After a little over 45 minutes of soaking I tested the pH with my meter. It read 6.3.  That is so close to neutral that I'm not too concerned about it. Not that I was concerned before since I've been using pine pellets for many years.  Many decades ago, in a former life when I was a teenager, I worked for a guy who raised guinea pigs for labs.  He used pine sawdust & chips for bedding.  When the cages were cleaned it was composted and put on the gardens.  Some of the best compost you ever saw!

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Post  OhioGardener 6/3/2022, 6:44 pm

Soose wrote:
(a friend) wrote:It is highly acidic and can kill a lot of beneficial organisms.  I never put it in my compost I put it around my azaleas which love the acidity when we were in Ca. They say no more then 10%.  Did you check your soil pH to see where you are to start? 

This reminds me of various and sundry sites on the Internet about how coffee grounds are acidic and should never be used in gardens. But, tests done by highly qualified university extension offices have found that used coffee grounds are nearly neutral.  In fact, what they found was that freshly ground coffee is in fact acidic, but in the brewing process the acid is pulled out of the grounds and passed into the brewed coffee.

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Post  Soose 6/3/2022, 7:52 pm

@OhioGardener,

Thank you very much for the answers about pine and coffee grounds being too acidic.  I will get back to my friend with the answer.   (I need a way to save these posts in a list so I can refer someone to them, I'm sure the question is going to come back up again.) 

I spent some time with the Carbon:Nitrogen ratios and calculations, verified my understanding with an online compost calculator, and can discuss it with my son. 

Since we always have a 3gal kit waste amount we take out every day and a half or so ( he's very good about getting it taken out), we should also be able to make a short list of the types of browns we're adding and some examples with an approximate quantity of each type... and then I'm quite sure he can adjust as you say if the mix gets off.  [ Ammonia smell = too much green = add browns.  Too wet, dry it out; pine pellets should help with that.  Too dry = add more greens. ] 

We'll have to see with this Lifetime Compost Tumbler how many batches of our kit waste can be accumulated into a side without getting too heavy. 

I'm about to decide that for now, other types of browns (other than pine pellets, like the leaves I need to rake up) and other types of greens (like the newly mowed field clippings) will just go out to the big yard compost bins, to a big heap, to better develop our tumbler and kitchen waste routines, get a good feel for ratios there and how quickly we can produce a batch.

I can't say I understand why MM as a soilless mix is pH neutral but I trust him, the books, and the studies and the expertise of SFG instructors here.  I know it's all been studied.  And my MM seems to be performing outstandingly this first season, with help of the advice here.  "Proof is in the pudding." 

Fingers crossed long term -- must get the future composts, home-generated, to the same quality.  (Gotta get some worm bins going as well.)   I am following in your footsteps. I might even try Bokashi.  Though our cold temps won't match yours. 

Thank you, thank you, for your guidance!  Smile
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Post  OhioGardener 6/4/2022, 9:00 am

Soose wrote:I can't say I understand why MM as a soilless mix is pH neutral but I trust him, the books, and the studies and the expertise of SFG instructors here.  I know it's all been studied.  And my MM seems to be performing outstandingly this first season, with help of the advice here.  "Proof is in the pudding." 

It is quite simple, really.  Composting always tends toward a neutral pH.  MM is compost with a couple additions to retain moisture and maintain friability. Periodically supplement home made compost with others such as composted cow manure, composted chicken manure, coffee grounds, worm castings, etc., and the nutrient level of the beds will remain high while the pH remains near neutral.

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New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 Empty New lifetime compost tumbler

Post  Daniel S. Moore 6/19/2022, 10:09 pm

For the lifetime compost tumbler, That Jora compost tumbler is an extremely beneficial option for everyone with a higher compost demand. The Jora compost tumbler is raised off the ground, and you may not be required to kneel down to empty, fill, or turn it like you need to with other tumblers. For those who are old and have back issues and want to compost, they can easily do so with the help of the Jora Compost Tumbler 270.
The assembly, like with many other composters, is difficult and frustrates the users. So it will take some time to put the parts together. Also, some people said that it is not that rust-proof compared to premium models but still is capable of serving at least five years. This tumbler has handles that make the hand-turning process easier. The temperature inside the chambers can be increased to more than 160 degrees Celsius, which turns out to greatly aid faster composting. With dual doors, the composter has two chambers, and the total capacity is a mammoth 70 gallons. Each chamber can be used independently, so you don’t have to stop the composting process. Its best feature is its 70-gallon capacity, the temperature can be increased for faster composting, Easy to use. Anybody can try it.
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Post  Chuck d'Argy 7/6/2022, 5:25 am

At this point in my life I suck at composting. It's not that I haven't read about composting from many different sources. For some reason this topic isn't registering. 

Last year was my first attempt at 100% by the book MM. I bought what I thought were 5 different composts, and most of my plants starved, except potatoes. I learned that compost is plant food, or rather I had read that. Last year that info was driven home. So this year I was more careful about what purchased compost to use so we'll see. So far my veggies look a lot better. 

Last year I built my own tumbler out of 50 gallon olive barrels from a guy in Girard Ohio. I built a rack from 2x3's and 4 casters from Harbor Freight. Functionally it works ok, but if it sits too long in one position the sides of the barrel "dent" on the casters and make rotating much more difficult. The "dents" recover with rotation, consequently it gets spun every other day. So other than the part that requires a reasonable amount of experience and smarts, it seems to work ok. I got some cow manure from a friend of mine for it, but didn't know to mix my greens and browns well, and a year later it still doesn't look like the pictures say it should. I will try again soon with more attention to balance. I have 3 friends that raise critters so manure is readily available. That's where the balance went south.  I OD'd the thing on manure.

So this year I am thinking about assembling a 3 bin "pallet composter" and try that. I noted the lining the bottom comment somewhere, so that's now part of the plan. I want to use more yard and kitchen waste. I may go to our local grocery stores for their stuff too. Even 2 tumblers doesn't seem like it's enough capacity.

The good news is I am learning as I go.
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Post  sanderson 7/9/2022, 3:18 am

Your are not the first person to make mistakes making their first Mel's Mix. Embarassed Thank goodness more and more real composts and time can correct it.

Maybe this calculator will help you get the ratios better. I always used it for the horse manure, mowed leaves and bedding straw and produce culls from the farmers market. If I had more ingredients, I would find the closest ingredient C:N wise and guestimate. Shredded leaves and/or bedding straw makes up the bulk with manures, produce, Starbucks used coffee grounds, alfalfa hay or soaked pellets, sea weed, etc. as a minority. Like 5 to 1 if not greater. Layer ingredients and wet as you build the pile and it should heat up to 140-160*F. Turn to make sure that all parts are equally heated.

A 3-bin system will make it easy to turn the piles back and forth, with finished compost stored in the 3rd. Happy composting.

http://www.klickitatcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/3523/Compost-Calculator

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Post  OhioGardener 7/9/2022, 12:02 pm

I love it when I go out to check the compost tumblers, open the door on the newest bin and steam comes rolling out. It is 87ºF outside, so it has to get hot in the tumbler to create all that steam. Went in to to get the compost thermometer to check the compost temp. It is hot, and ready to turn!

New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 Hot_co10

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New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 Empty Thanks for the pic. Bought my own

Post  Chuck d'Argy 7/9/2022, 10:49 pm

OhioGardener wrote:I love it when I go out to check the compost tumblers, open the door on the newest bin and steam comes rolling out. It is 87ºF outside, so it has to get hot in the tumbler to create all that steam. Went in to to get the compost thermometer to check the compost temp. It is hot, and ready to turn!

New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 Hot_co10
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Post  sanderson 7/19/2022, 4:30 pm

The value of a compost thermometer is priceless.

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Post  Frank207 8/31/2022, 3:52 pm

I'm thinking of getting a compost tumbler and have a few questions that I can't seem to find an answer to.   My wife and I, both retired, live in central maine and the winters get pretty cold and we probably produce about a gallon of kitchen scraps per week with the bulk of it coffee grinds and filters. 

 As I understand it, you can continue to add kitchen scraps to the tumbler even if the previous scraps are frozen and I don't have to add any browns, which leads me to my questions

 1) If I keep adding kitchen scraps to the tumbler over the several months of winter. won't the tumbler get too full to add browns when spring comes? 

 2) Do I just keep the excess kitchen scarps in a separate bucket and let it freeze and use it when temperature's stay above freezing and the tumbler  starts to compost?  Won't this process get smelly when the weather warms?

 3) My research into tumblers say that  a 4.5 cu.ft  tumbler is good for a family of 1-4.   Based on what I'm trying to do does this size sound reasonable?

Thank you 
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Post  OhioGardener 8/31/2022, 7:17 pm

Frank207 wrote:I'm thinking of getting a compost tumbler and have a few questions that I can't seem to find an answer to.   My wife and I, both retired, live in central maine and the winters get pretty cold and we probably produce about a gallon of kitchen scraps per week with the bulk of it coffee grinds and filters.

Frank, I merged your post with this one on the Lifetime compost tumblers because many of your questions are answered in this thread.

I have two Jora JK-270 compost tumblers, which I bought primarily because they are insulated and allows me to use them throughout the winter and because they are each twin bins. We have a small 2-gallong bucket kept in the house to collect kitchen scraps, and it is emptied in the tumbler each evening. Most days the bucket is about 1/2 to 3/4 full. It takes me 2 to 3 weeks to fill one bin of the Jora compost tumbler, then once the bin is full it takes one month to fully compost. With the 4 bins in the 2 tumblers, when the last bin is full I am able to empty the first one and restart the process.

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Post  sanderson 9/1/2022, 3:13 am

Frank, I have a different idea. You can mow (chop) the fall leaves and keep the leaf bags or garbage containers accessible. You can start the tumbler with a layer of leaves. Add 1-2" of kitchen waste and top with 3" of leaves. Tumble to mix. Keep repeating until full. Then start saving the kitchen trimmings and freezing them until late spring when the full tumbler will be actively breaking down. If you have a second tumbler, that would be even better. While one is breaking down, you can start filling the second one.

If you have a ton of fall leaves, you can make wire cages and let the extra decompose to leaf mold.

I had the 80-gallon Lifetime Tumbler with a break-up bar inside. It held an astonishing amount of mowed leaves, mowed bedding straw, buckets of horse manure, coffee grounds from Starbucks, produce culls from the farmers market and kitchen wastes. I would build it in layers in one day and have rough finished compost (safe enough to add to the beds) in a month. The temps would reach a high of 160*F.

If you get a lot of snow, you would want the tumblers and leaf bags right outside the back or side door or garage door.

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Post  sanderson 2/1/2023, 4:41 pm

Bump

It's that time of the year where folks may be thinking about composting. Prices seemed to have gone up so a good used one may be a good way to get started.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/8/2023, 5:31 pm

Many thanks for the bump, sanderson.  Perfect timing for me as my next big job was going to be building three bins from pallets whose contents I was going to be spending a lot of time turning.  But reading about these tumblers has me pretty keen!

I've found a product available here which seems to be pretty good, especially since I can get hold of stainless steel fittings for it.  Before I order it though, I have a key question: can I store compost for a few months before using it, and how is best to do this?

This probably seems like a strange question, so please bear with me a mo.

The volume is listed at 245 litres.  I assume that means the total space enclosed by the bin, and I think I've seen somewhere that finished compost is about one-third less volume than the starting material, so I'd get about 160 litres per mixture if I fill it each time.  Volume-wise, for next spring I need ~160 litres to go into the second raised bed, and I'm assuming a further ~160 litres to renew my current bed.

This means I need to make two mixtures by next spring, which is fine, except that I don't live in Auckland during the middle few months of the year.  So I'm going to need to make it ahead of time and store it.

Could I maybe put it on the ground, covered with a tarp which I can weight down with bricks?  My thinking is that worms etc could be doing their thing while it's there and then when I'm ready for it I can go and get it.  Does this sound like a good plan?
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Post  OhioGardener 2/8/2023, 5:58 pm

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: can I store compost for a few months before using it, and how is best to do this?

Yes, for a few months, or much longer.  I have a 3-bay compost bin in which I fill the left bay with material and let start composting. When that left bay is full, I start filling the right bay.  The middle bay is for "finished" compost which may come from turning the left bay or the right bay into it, or it may come from emptying one of the compost tumblers into it.  Compost stays in that middle bay until it is needed on one of the gardens. I then take from the bottom of the bay to apply to the garden and leave the "greener" compost to ripen.  It not only stores well, but the earthworms love it.

The volume is listed at 245 litres.  I assume that means the total space enclosed by the bin, and I think I've seen somewhere that finished compost is about one-third less volume than the starting material, so I'd get about 160 litres per mixture if I fill it each time.  Volume-wise, for next spring I need ~160 litres to go into the second raised bed, and I'm assuming a further ~160 litres to renew my current bed.

Only "shrinking" by one-third is probably optimistic.  When I totally fill one side of a compost tumbler to let it finish composting, it continually reduces in size until 4 to 6 weeks later when it is finished composting. The finished compost is usually less than 1/2 of what the original fill was. Bulky compostable items greatly reduce in size as they break down. For example, cut a grapefruit in half and remove the fruit then compost the rind. That rind after composting will be maybe a tablespoonful of compost.  Instead of thinking that it will reduce by one-third, think of it a reducing to about one-third.

Could I maybe put it on the ground, covered with a tarp which I can weight down with bricks?  My thinking is that worms etc could be doing their thing while it's there and then when I'm ready for it I can go and get it.  Does this sound like a good plan?

You can make a simple storage bin using fencing wire, maybe 3' diameter and 3' high, and then throw the finished compost in that bin. Cover the bin with cardboard, old carpet, or such, and let it age. It will keep until you need it for the garden.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/8/2023, 6:07 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: can I store compost for a few months before using it, and how is best to do this?

Yes, for a few months, or much longer.  I have a 3-bay compost bin in which I fill the left bay with material and let start composting. When that left bay is full, I start filling the right bay.  The middle bay is for "finished" compost which may come from turning the left bay or the right bay into it, or it may come from emptying one of the compost tumblers into it.  Compost stays in that middle bay until it is needed on one of the gardens. I then take from the bottom of the bay to apply to the garden and leave the "greener" compost to ripen.  It not only stores well, but the earthworms love it.
Oh, this is brilliant news, thank you so much!!!  (Wondering how you get the bottom material out, but I'll figure it out when the time comes!)

Only "shrinking" by one-third is probably optimistic.  When I totally fill one side of a compost tumbler to let it finish composting, it continually reduces in size until 4 to 6 weeks later when it is finished composting. The finished compost is usually less than 1/2 of what the original fill was. Bulky compostable items greatly reduce in size as they break down. For example, cut a grapefruit in half and remove the fruit then compost the rind. That rind after composting will be maybe a tablespoonful of compost.  Instead of thinking that it will reduce by one-third, think of it a reducing to about one-third.

Oh.  Well, just as well I'm getting started on this now -- obviously I'm going to need way more than 2 mixtures!!

You can make a simple storage bin using fencing wire, maybe 3' diameter and 3' high, and then throw the finished compost in that bin. Cover the bin with cardboard, old carpet, or such, and let it age. It will keep until you need it for the garden.

Fabulous Smile  I thought I'd need to protect from rain, so the nutrients don't leach out?  It'll be sitting over winter, which here is not so much cold but wet.
Huge thanks again, OG.  I need good news at the moment! thanks
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Post  OhioGardener 2/9/2023, 7:43 am

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote:
You can make a simple storage bin using fencing wire, maybe 3' diameter and 3' high, and then throw the finished compost in that bin. Cover the bin with cardboard, old carpet, or such, and let it age. It will keep until you need it for the garden.

Fabulous Smile  I thought I'd need to protect from rain, so the nutrients don't leach out?  It'll be sitting over winter, which here is not so much cold but wet.

That is the purpose of the cardboard on top of the bin, to make sure the rainwater runs off of the compost instead of through the compost.  Don't want the rainwater leaching out all of the nutrients during storage.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/9/2023, 2:35 pm

Oh, OK, I just figured the protection would need to be waterproof.  Then again, I've found with the cardboard under the woodchip of my bed's perimeter, although it wets quickly it is strangely resistant to staying wet!

Thanks again, OG Smile
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Post  sanderson 2/10/2023, 11:48 pm

OhioGardener wrote:

Only "shrinking" by one-third is probably optimistic.  . . . The finished compost is usually less than 1/2 of what the original fill was.
1/2 has been my experience.

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Post  Soose 2/11/2023, 5:22 am

sanderson wrote:
OhioGardener wrote:Only "shrinking" by one-third is probably optimistic.  . . . The finished compost is usually less than 1/2 of what the original fill was.
1/2 has been my experience.
Yesterday I took a half ibc tote  of mostly dry leaves ( over 21cu ft or 0.8 cu yd) , put them by pitchfork loads into my 30 gal metal burn barrel, and used the string trimmer to pulverize them.    

The result is about half a barrel of teensy particles which I intend to compost. Or I might till it in directly as a soil amendment since we have 4 months until warm soil for planting. Or I may feed it to the worms. 

Curious, if the 2cu ft leaves are already pulverized, how much volume compost would you expect?New Lifetime Compost Tumbler.. - Page 3 Img_2053
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Post  OhioGardener 2/11/2023, 7:30 am

Soose wrote:
sanderson wrote:
OhioGardener wrote:Only "shrinking" by one-third is probably optimistic.  . . . The finished compost is usually less than 1/2 of what the original fill was.
1/2 has been my experience.

Curious, if the 2cu ft leaves are already pulverized, how much volume compost would you expect?

I would guess between 1/2 and 1 cu ft compost.

See this bin of leaves left to compost into last year's Leaf Mold?  That bin is 4' tall by 4' diameter.  The leaves were packed as tight as I could as they were added to the bin.  I got about 1' of leaf mold out of that bin.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 2/11/2023, 2:26 pm

Shocked !!!!
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