Tag Archives: garden composters

Earthworms in the Compost: It’s a Good Thing.

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.

Who cares?

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.

Lifetime Compost Tumbler Review


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.

For a good deal on the Lifetime Compost Tumbler, click here!

The Top 4 or 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Compost Tumbler (video)

Top 4 or 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Compost Tumbler

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:

1) Ergonomics
2) Airflow
3) Durability
4) Capacity

If you have any questions, please get in touch.  Thanks for watching!

Do I Need More Than One Compost Tumbler? (video)

Do I Need More Than One Compost Tumbler?

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.

Envirocycle mods…? Why not?

Notice anything different in this picture?

Yep, I drilled holes in the Envirocycle Original model. I asked about it a while ago, and their advice was not to drill holes, but I begged to differ. Then when the Mini version came out (the tan one), it had an awesome air vent on both sides of the drum. Ah-ha!

What’s wrong with more airflow? Beats me. Yes, it’s nice to keep the heat in and let things cook, but it can’t cook without gas (air). So there you have it, sink or swim. I just filled both drums with brand new materials, as I just cleaned out my refrigerator and found all kinds of old artifacts just begging to be composted…stuff that expired years ago! Whoops.

FAQ: Do I need more than one tumbler to make compost?

I’ve received a lot of emails asking me if I need two compost tumblers to make composting work. The answer:

No way.

I totally understand that the cost of a compost tumbler can be prohibitive for some, and I agree that they’re not cheap. It really depends on the situation to know what works best. In some instances, tumblers are perfect, in others they’re not practical at all. Factors such as space, aesthetics, and amount of material all weigh heavily.

If you do decide to go with a tumbler, you can always fill it 3/4s of the way, then all further waste for the next 12 weeks or so divide up into other composting efforts. For example, I put portions of my waste in my worm composting system, and the rest I bury in the ground next to the compost tumbler.

If you happen to glance over my videos, some of them show a second, smaller tumbler next to my usual one. Envirocycle liked my videos so much that they sent me that one as a thank you! Pretty awesome. I pretty much don’t have to bury material anymore since I can use the Mini as well. I have some really lush compost that I just pulled from it recently…I totally forgot about it and now it’s pretty nice.

Anyway, to reiterate, you do not need two compost tumblers at all…you can pull off one or none just as easily.

Envirocycle full of worms???

In the wintertime, I take my composting efforts indoors to pay attention to the worms.  We had yet another uncharacteristically warm day here (if just one more person says “omg i love global warming lol”…ugh ), so I checked out the composter…full of worms!

It had just rained, and the inside was a bit damp…so my guess is that the earthworms were just looking for warm, moist ground and they found it in there.  They also found a lot of stuff they probably weren’t used to, like a Sun Chips bag trying to degrade, and some paper packaging material that I lazily threw in without ripping it up, just for fun.

I seem to get a fair number of emails talking about worms in the composter…these worms are almost certainly just earthworms (sorry earthworms) and not red wigglers, or composting worms.

Another thing worth noting, is that red wigglers are not the best solution for adding to your compost tumbler.  If your compost is in the early stages of degradation and is quite warm, this may harm the worms.  They’re also kind of picky about airflow, and most likely won’t come in the tumbler to start with.  Lastly, they don’t want their habitat being flipped upside down all the time, and if you’re using the tumbler how it should be used, wigglers won’t stick around for long.

A Better SunChips Bag? (article)

Consumer Reports Magazine: January 2012

Frito-Lay scrapped its SunChips Original bag last year (too noisy) but says that the newer bag, like the old, is “100% compostable.” We decided that a retest was in order. On the bag’s back are the words “designed to compost in about 14 weeks in a hot, active home or industrial compost pile.” In tiny type on the bag’s base: “This package is suitable for industrial composting.”

Most people don’t have access to an industrial compost pile, so we put a SunChips bag in a typical home pile of grass clippings, wood chips, leaves, and starter dirt, and kept it there for 14 weeks, adding compost and watering as needed. We also measured noise while crinkling the newer bag, the older bag, and a Tostitos bag.

Bottom line. The bag barely changed in the compost pile. (A very hot compost pile would probably be more effective.) The newer bag is quieter than the previous version, but it’s still louder than a Tostitos bag.

One of my favorite magazines decided to try this experiment too…not surprising results at all.  This bag needs extreme heat and mass to get it decomposing properly.

Envirocycle composter out of stock!

Hey crazy composters,

I just received word from Envirocycle that they are backordered on the Envirocycle “Original” Composter (the bigger size). They said they would have new stock sometime in February…long wait!

It looks like there are some left on Amazon, so try using the Amazon search box just down the right hand side of this page.

Further, I will be “out of the office” until Monday.  Thank you so much, keep it dirty and have a happy holiday!