Composters, Tumbling Composters, Compost Tumblers
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A Bit About Composters and Composting
First, what is composting?
Compost or the act of composting is the natural breakdown of organic matter, this breakdown causes the nutrients and minerals found in all organic matter to be readily absorbed by plants, flowers, trees, grass, etc...
Soils always strive when nutrients levels in the organic matter they are comprised of are elevated. This will be evident in healthy, long lasting plants, large yields of fruit and veggies, and beautiful full-colored flowers.
Are you wondering how to get your hands on some compost material? You can purchase pre-made compost at a garden center or various department stores; however, this can prove to be costly over time, and the quality of the compost is sometimes questionable. With increased awareness regarding environmentally friendly practices around the home composting at home has became a very popular activity for many homeowners. Below are some step by step instructions how you can get started home-composting today!
Decide where in your yard you would like to put your compost bin or compost tumbler. Depending on the design of the bin you choose to contain your compost in, there can be a lot of odor. Choose a low traffic area of your yard where the smell won't become a major issue. Choose an area without much sunlight; the heat will dry out your compost so choose a shady area to keep your compost moist. Also keep from walls and fences, composters needs oxygen, so smothering them will extend the decomposition length greatly.
It's also important to choose an area where the organic material from your home can be easily transported to your compost bin, and also from the bin to your garden. Make it as easy as possible for you to move this compost around your yard. Your plants will thank you and so will your back!!
Finding Composters (Compost pile vs. Compost bin vs. Tumbling Composter / Compost Tumbler)
There are 3 main ways of composting:
- Compost Pile - reserved for those with plenty of space (I.e. rural areas) and who are able to manually turn their compost pile with a shovel
- Compost Bin - reserved for those with limited space and who do not mind turning their compost with a compost tool or small shovel
- Tumbling Composter or compost tumbler - reserved for those with limited space and who value ease-of-use (I.e. tumbling can be accomplished by spinning the tumbling composter)
Now, at this stage in the process it's time to either purchase a composter or construct one yourself. If you decide to build one on your own, be sure to add similar features as you might find in a store bought unit such as:
- Locking lid - Keeps pesky critters away
- Tea collection reservoir - Decomposed organic material produces a nutrient filled liquid (tea) which can be used to water plants and flowers
- Drain for tea - Devise a manner of extracting this liquid from the bottom of your bin
- Compost mixing tool - Decreases decomposition time
- Holes for aeration - Adds much needed oxygen to lessen decomposition time
- Rear door for access to compost - Allows for easy access to compost material
- Tumbling Composters / Compost Tumbler - A tumbling composter replaces the need for compost pile turning.
When building composters choose materials that can withstand the elements, including cold weather in winter, constant moisture, and humidity/heat.
Before adding organic material to your composter ask yourself some logical questions:
- Is the item too large? Can it be broken down into smaller pieces to aid in the decomposition process?
- Once broken down does the item contain any harmful chemicals that may harm yourself or you garden once used as compost?
- Note: The best combination of organic matter is a half and half mixture of both brown and green materials.
Suitable Compost Matter for Compost Bins and Tumbling Composters
- Tea leaves, tea bags, coffee grounds and coffee filters
- Sawdust, wood ash, wood shavings
- Vegetable peelings and other kitchen waste
- Green leaves and various plant cuttings that have been chopped into smaller pieces
- Shredded branches, bark, stems, twigs and pine needles
- Newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper
- Seaweed, lake moss, peat moss, algae
- Grass Clippings
- Straw, hay
- Broken down egg shells
- Natural fibres (cotton, wool, etc)
- Rinse water
Unsuitable Compost Matter for Compost Bins and Tumbling Composters
- Dairy products
- Inorganic materials, such as plastics, glass, foil, chemically-treated wood, etc.
- Human or animal waste products
- Diseased plants and flowers
- Weeds from lawn
- Meat, poultry or fish scraps also any fat, grease, oil, or bones
- Coal or charcoal
- Synthetic Chemicals
- Cooked food
This list provides a great basis to start with your composting efforts. If you are unsure whether a certain food or material should be placed into your compost bin, consult an expert prior to placing the item into your bin.
Use your Compost
Once you have enough compost accumulated it's time to use it in your garden. If this process seems to be very slow (longer than 4 months) you can utilize a compost activator. This activator is perfect for composter bins or tumbling composters which are slow to yield garden ready compost material. These activators can be purchased from most garden centers, this will speed up the process substantially; however, an all-natural break down is always best.
Enjoy your composting!