Here’s a short, simple video on the basics for setting up a compost bin in the backyard. Ignore the comments section, keep it simple and get started!
Have you seen the Compost Wizard compost tumbler before?
I know I had my reservations about it at first, then I liked it, then I wasn’t sure. Yesterday I was out for a stroll in the neighborhood and happened to discover one out in the open, so I checked it out:
First things first, this compost tumbler is in bad shape for a number of reasons…so this isn’t just a review, but more like a how-to guide. You can guess the first issue straight away, right? It’s not exactly level. I tried to tumble it, and it was really hard because it’s on a slant. So there you have it: make sure your composter is level.
It doesn’t appear that the compost tumbler was being paid attention to, or it was just being used as a waste receptacle. It was halfway filled with potting soil, and then a bunch of dead weeds and plants. Yikes! Now is the time of year to fix it…and I was quite tempted to. Add a ton of shredded leaves, wet it down, shred up the current contents and add some food waste.
The last step is to tumble it each week. This thing has the worst grips ever on it…it needs ridges! It doesn’t help that it’s sitting on a slight hill, and it’s filled with potting soil for some strange reason. The axles were rusted out and the barrel easily slides off the rollers as a result. The sides have plenty of holes for air circulation, and the contents of this were completely dried out.
Maybe I’ll go back as the Compost Crusader and get this thing up and composting again…that would make for a fun little mission, wouldn’t it?
Back in January I made a brief post about my compost tumbler being full of worms…and by worms I don’t mean red wigglers, but earthworms.
Well, I’ve decided it’s time to pay tribute to earthworms again, because they’re often confused with red wigglers and their purposes get mixed up.
Red wigglers are super resilient (e.g. temperature changes, crowding), live in organic material and have a serious appetite…they make the most sense in a full-on vermicomposting setup- anything from a super cheap/simple worm bin to the popular Worm Factory or Worm Inn options. If you put them in with a freshly active compost pile, chances are good they’ll be dead right away or leave altogether.
Earthworms, however, may arrive much later in the composting process:
My tumbler has been sitting “idle” for a couple months now and each time I take a peek, I find earthworms in there. They came up through the bottom of my tumbler and have been burrowing their way through the material, speeding up the end process. Earthworms are soil dwelling worms that will assist in further breaking down of compost into neutral, balanced soil. To have soil dwelling worms in my compost seems like a good indicator of the material at this stage.
So if you’re looking in your compost pile one day and see some worms in there, it’s almost certain they’re earthworms- not suitable for efficient vermicomposting, but perfectly normal for improving your near-finished compost.
Have you seen one of these before? I was recently asked a few times for my opinion on this thing. It’s called the Vertex Eco Tumbler and it looks to be the cheapest possible compost tumbler you can buy. So does the old adage “you get what you pay for” apply here? Is this the best option for the compost tumbler curious?
Without seeing one in person it’s hard to say, but here’s my observations of the unit:
-Cost! They’re under $100, which makes it the cheapest compost tumbler.
-Looking at the reviews on Amazon, it looks like the main issue people have is with its assembly. Therefore, if you like a challenge this shouldn’t be a problem. However, assembly issues may allude to cheap and/or shoddy manufacturing.
-I think the barrel material (corrugated plastic) is a wise choice to make it super cheap, but I wonder how sturdy it is when it’s full of material. The metal bars going over the barrel serve two purposes…they probably keep the thing from falling apart. However, they make great grips for tumbling the compost.
-I like the locking mechanism to keep the barrel in place…it’s kind of necessary, unless you have your composter door propped up against a wall or fence (which is what I do). The legs look just OK.
-The sliding door system is strange. No clamps or locking mechanisms, just doors that appear to be able to freely move side to side. If this claims to be the main source of airflow, I’m a little worried. Might be time to break out the drill and make some holes on the sides, but the strength of the material may be easily compromised.
I’m guessing this is a relatively new composter available in the marketplace…it doesn’t look like many places carry it. I’m always a fan of compost tumblers lower to the ground and not on legs so they don’t get tippy when full. However, this one might fare well. If you have one, leave a comment for me and let me know how you feel about these!
I feel weird about rating it since I don’t have one, but since I like to get what I pay for, I would rather spend a little more and get a tumbler that is in it for the long haul instead.
Recently I was asked my opinion on the Lifetime Compost Tumbler. I hadn’t heard of it before, but apparently it resides at a number of big box stores and is sold for as little as $100. You get what you pay for, right?
My favorite thing to do is look at customer reviews on Amazon… in this regard, it appears that it’s a pain in the butt to assemble. I’m somewhat surprised as it doesn’t look that complicated.
What do I like about it? The metal hinges and ergonomic grips look pretty nice. In the above video, I like how they casually prop up the door against the shed in the background. This doesn’t make sense to me, as it has a pin on the side (very clever) to lock the barrel in place. So I’ll give it that, if it works as it should. I like that the barrel is a triangular shape, as that would make the material “flip over” a bit more.
What don’t I like about it? The tube going through the middle for oxygen seems a bit weak. There’s only a few holes drilled in it, and it would be better if there were holes drilled in the actual barrel instead. The barrel should allow for oxygen, not be airtight to focus on holding heat. If the material is added correctly in the right proportions, it will get to composting temperatures regardless of how many holes are drilled.
Another common customer complaint is that when it starts filling up, it’s really hard to rotate it. I bet. That’s why I like tumblers that are directly on the ground, as you can fall into them to rotate. The higher off the ground the tumbler gets, the harder it is to rotate it.
All in all, this looks like it would be a decent compost tumbler, although I’d probably modify it by adding a few holes on the sides. Also, be prepared to spend some time assembling it.
It’s time for Clash of the Composts round 2, and this time I’m growing chives. The 4 soil types are: worm castings, tumbler compost, commercial compost and trench compost/dirt.
This time around was pretty much the same…my homemade worm castings and tumbler compost outperformed the commercial compost and the regular dirt by a bit.
One cool thing I noticed this time was how the commercial compost was free of weeds…this is due to the thermal kill levels of mass piles of compost, and it showed. Perhaps that is also why it didn’t do as well as my stuff.
The obvious conclusion here, like last time, is that compost definitely helps your stuff grow…so use it!
Hit the Like button and let me know if you’ve tried comparing compost types before…it’s actually a lot of fun! If you haven’t signed up for my free composting course, you should do that on the right hand side of the page.
What composting system is right for you? There’s 4 main methods for composting: dig a hole, compost bin, worms, compost tumbler. They all have their pros and cons, so here we go:
Dig a hole – $0
-Risk of animals/pests digging it up
-Hard to obtain any compost
-Might annoy neighbors
Compost Bin – $25+
+Cheap, easy to do it yourself for free
+Can handle large volumes
+Can thoroughly process any and all organic materials
-Unsightly? (It’s worth it though, trust me)
Worms – $30/lb, $100+
+Works year round
+Worm castings are a great soil amendment
+Fun for educational purposes
-They need attention to ensure they’re happy
-Somewhat expensive to start
Compost Tumbler – $175+
+Secure from pests/animals
+Turning the compost is easy (although not necessary)
+Neat in appearance
-Attention to moisture/oxygen levels
-Lots of crappy models on the market
When is your compost ready to use? Some questions to ask yourself include:
How does it look?
Can you recognize any of the material?
How does it smell?
Is the material warm?
Here I have a few different samples of compost…vermicompost, tumbler compost, commercial compost, and trench compost.
What do you think of these samples? I feel like my tumbler compost and vermicastings could both go even longer before using them, but that they’re still OK if I were to use them now. In fact, I’m going to use these samples for my next “Clash of The Composts!” experiment coming soon… stay tuned!
When it comes to compost tumblers, I’ve found that there’s several important considerations to choose the right one for you. Keep in mind that not everyone’s situation is best for a tumbler, and that you can compost without spending a single penny.
If you’re interested in a compost tumbler, keep these key factors in mind as there’s plenty of sub-par compost designs out there:
If you have any questions, please get in touch. Thanks for watching!
Do I need more than one compost tumbler? No! You don’t even need one. You don’t even need a dollar to compost at home. It’s all a matter of choice.