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Topic: Need Advice on Compost Tumblers

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Subject: Need Advice on Compost Tumblers
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 123
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Hi All,

I recently moved from a duplex that had a small yard where I started a compost pile to a second-floor apartment with a balcony patio. So, there's no room for a traditional garden compost pile.

I miss composting (I am such a geek!) and I've been considering buying a patio-sized compost tumbler. But before I pay $130 for a composting device, I thought I'd ask for some advice on the best small compost tumbler to buy. If you have experience with small compost tumblers, positive or negative, please share your thoughts on what works and what doesn't. Thanks.

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2006
Posts: 6,638
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Last Edited on: 1/20/09 2:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/20/2009 1:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 123
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Thanks, I'll look into it.
Date Posted: 1/21/2009 9:26 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2005
Posts: 1,228
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Found this site with composting information:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Composting/



Last Edited on: 1/21/09 9:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/21/2009 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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My experience with them has been: They aren't worth the trouble.I will say that I haven't tried composting in an upper level apartment, and I do see what the problem is.

How fast do you want the compost? Do you want an active compost or a passive one? If passive is ok, just get a container, put some dirt from the ground, not store-bought in it, along with your compost starters/ingredients aka produce scaraps, coverr somewhat or leave open, and let it compost.

Date Posted: 1/22/2009 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,350
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I would much rather if my compost was next to my backdoor that it not be open.

I have not been impressed with my compost tumbler, but I odn't have a good spot in the backyard to put a normal compost pile.  The layout of the houses in the area is poor and my neighbor's come right up to my back fences frequently.  I don't think it's good neighbor to have a pile of compost next to where they sit (nor do I want to have to go turn it--I know I simply won't).  

Which is why I bought a tumbler.  I need a second, since it takes too long for the first to compost, but my supplier may not be able to get his barrels anymore so I don't know if I will or not.  I haven't been impressed with what has come out, but I think I just needed more leaves, so we'll see when this current batch comes out.  Once it thaws enough to be able to compost!

Date Posted: 1/23/2009 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 123
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Thanks for the comments! I mostly need to decide whether to go low-tech (just use a bucket and let the compost be passive) or spend money and buy a small tumbler. We do produce a lot of vegetable/produce scraps, and since the point is to avoid throwing this stuff out with the regular garbage and recycling (our complex does have paper/plastic recycling), I suspect we'll have to compost a little more actively, just to get through the material and get the compost more quickly. I think I'll start with a bucket on the patio and see how much material I actually end up putting in there. Then, I can buy a tumbler if it turns out we need it.
Date Posted: 2/12/2009 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/26/2008
Posts: 1,302
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Hey Amanda!  Did you get your tumbler yet?  I live in Glendale, California and our city's waste management has a "green program" where they provide a free compost bin or worm box for its residents.  You just have to sign up for a 1 hour composting class.  Maybe you could look into a program like that for your city and/or state. (I forgot to check your profile on where you are from)  As far as apartment living goes, I would recommend a worm bin.  I just did a ton of research on composting last summer when I moved into a new house.  Worm bins were top of the list for apartment living.  They can be kept outside, but I've also seen worm bins that are odorless and look like a kitchen trash can and can be kept inside if you want.  I think it was Amazon that had them...and some green websites.  I use a tumbler in my garden though, but ever since I placed alcohol-soaked sangria fruit in there...it's been downhill since. Toxic!  Unfortunately, my house is downwind from the compost!  Lesson learned, hopefully I'll be able to have a successful batch this spring!

Good luck!

Date Posted: 2/13/2009 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 123
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Right now, I've got a large bucket on the patio that I'm filling up with kitchen scraps. When it warms up a bit here in frigid northern Utah, I'll see how that does.

I'm still thinking about getting a small tumbler something like this Envirocycle Tumber, but I've also been reading about worm bins, which seem pretty easy to set up aside from ordering the worms : ) In the end, the worms look like they might be cost effective.

Subject: vermicomposting
Date Posted: 2/27/2009 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 5/28/2007
Posts: 7
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Definitely consider worms!  You will be amazed at how quickly they multiply and eat up your scraps. You don't have to buy anything fancy, I used an old styrofoam cooler for mine and it worked great.  Use lots of bedding material, old newspaper, straw, mulch, and keep it dark.  Drain holes are also essential, so have a tray to catch the water underneath.

Only problem is if it's too cold you need find a place inside.

http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-164.pdf

 

Date Posted: 2/28/2009 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,350
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For worms, if you have a bait shop nearby, buy them there. MUCH cheaper than ordering them.

Which is good if you don't have an experienced worm composter helping you--I made so many mistakes and every one of them meant I needed new worms.  I finally gave up and switched to Bokashi.  A friend who worm composts came over a while later and pointed out a list of problems after studying my setup, but I haven't gone back to try again yet.

Date Posted: 3/6/2009 10:46 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 123
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Just an update. I'm still just using a large bucket on my patio for compostable materials. That seems to be working fine for now. When full-on summer hits, I'll see if I need to adjust my setup.

I'm still intrigued by the idea of worm composting, but I'd have to keep them indoors (where space is at a premium right now) instead of on my very cold (in winter) or very hot (in summer) patio . Still, I'd love to try it someday.

Just as a side note: I invested about $180 in a small chest freezer for my kitchen. My parents are buying half of a pastured beef and we're going to split the cost and the meat among all the family members. We've done this in the past and it's worked great. This is a healthy and cost-effective alternative to buying meat in small amounts at the grocery store or the butcher.

Subject: composting
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2007
Posts: 29
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Hi Amanda!  I don't have any advice but just wanted to congratulate you on trying.