View Full Version : Got a compost tumbler in the mail today- now what?

Aug. 18, 2011, 06:29 PM
Hi, One of my friends recently passed away and he was super into organic gardening. He wanted everyone to compost. So, all of his friends decided we would start composting in his memory (yes, not the traditional memorial, but it was very important to him.) So I ordered a 7 cu ft compost tumbler and it arrived today. What the heck do I do with it? I know we have some compost gurus and I feel like since this is a memorial, I should do a good job of composting. I'm just not sure where to start. What can/ Can't I put in? I have a garden, can I put weeds in, or will the seeds wreck the compost. Help please!

Aug. 18, 2011, 07:00 PM
What a wonderful and meaningful way to remember a friend who obviously cared about the earth and those left behind!

For a composter the size you have, I'd recommend kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells & such, but NO fat or meat scraps. Hint: an empty supplement bucket with lid (love the Ukele 10#ers) under the kitchen sink works great for collecting these until you're ready to take things out to your composter. One more way to recycle something.

You can add grass clippings, raked leaves, and of course horse manure & wet bedding. The finer (smaller in size) the materials the better/quicker they'll compost. Either way it will take several weeks to a few months, depending on how often you tumble/mix. You should also monitor the moisture a bid, don't let it get too dry nor soggy. You'll learn from experience what is right for your climate.

Small/young weeds that you've pulled from the garden would probably be fine if they are just leaves & roots. I would avoid big weeds that have already gone to seed, as the seeds can live for years unless exposed to high enough temperature. You'd need a compost pile minimum 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft to create enough heat to kill weed seeds. (Don't compost other pet waste either just because of chance of possible pathogens not being killed.)

Occasional addition of a little bit of wood ash if you have a wood stove is OK too; but don't over do this or you'll throw everything out of whack.

Adding a handful of earthworms can also help speed the process.

Use well finished compost around flower beds, shrubs, or to grow the most fantastic raised vegetable beds you'll ever have. Your friend's memory will live on in ways that will help you enjoy and also have a lasting impact on the planet.

Aug. 18, 2011, 07:12 PM
a tumbler?

you can put in:
grass clippings
wood (but big pieces take much longer to compost)
paper - not shiney magazines and I think the recommendation to restrict news paper to just black....
Coffee grounds and tea leaves
vegetable scraps, eggshells

avoid fat and meat scraps
and weeds with seeds.

think small: smaller stuff decomposes quicker.

then you keep it moist, and give it one turn every day. It should not take very long to get finished.

also, you can give it a jump start by pouring a beer on it, or a pack of yeast desolved in sugar water, sweet tea works too. (I usually dump juices that went bad on there, anything to feed the microbes.)
Also, a bit of earth/topsoil is good.

worms are a bit tricky. you get that thing kicking it will be too warm for them. but when you put the compost out they will love it!

Aug. 20, 2011, 02:16 PM

A few questions that came up. Can I put corn cobs in it (will they break down enough.) What about corn husks that were singed on the grill?


Aug. 20, 2011, 02:23 PM
I would think corn cobs would take a long time to break down. Smaller is better. Google composting, there is a lot of info. Don't forget to add water, compost should be like a damp sponge. And it should get hot.

Aug. 20, 2011, 07:40 PM

A few questions that came up. Can I put corn cobs in it (will they break down enough.) What about corn husks that were singed on the grill?


it's plant material. It will eventually compost.

Aug. 20, 2011, 07:45 PM
I was a compost tumbler failure last year.:lol:
The two most important things I did NOT do that I should have was: tumble it everyday. Everyday. Everday., and put it in a sunny spot. It wont compost if its in the shade. Seems like common sense, I know, but hey, I already admitted to being a failure. :lol:

I will do better next year. :yes:

Aug. 20, 2011, 08:36 PM
DH got me a two sided model for Xmas last year. We put it out near the back door and feed it shredded paper and kitchen scraps, no meats or cooked proteins, some manure and small weeds, eggshells etc. It makes lovely compost in about two weeks, with faithful tumbling.

You will need to figure out how to get your wheelbarrow under it or get one that fits. We have the brand name Compostumbler and it has a support it sits on with the gear drive, the rack is a little narrow so we have to improvise on getting the compost out and where we want it. Crush your eggshells really well as they tend to stay whole.

Lovely remembrance, I hope you are able to get it to work easily for you!

Aug. 25, 2011, 12:41 PM
Thanks for all of the advice! My tumbler is slowly filling up. Corn husks, melon, coffee, edamame husks (Is it okay to put in stuff you've sucked on?) It's black plastic and sitting in the sun and I've tumbled it daily. I need to add some grass clippings, but DH mowed the grass last night and I forgot to tell him to collect some. He (the one who was against a rotting pile of food) even likes the tumbler. I think it's the engineer in him. Even our 20mo now takes scraps from her plate and says tumbler!

Aug. 25, 2011, 01:00 PM
yes, stuff you sucked on is just fine! (added enzymes! ;))

Composting is really great, because it's so wonderfully destructive.

You don't have to put grass clippings in there. They are nice though, because they do produce a lot of heat and are generally high in nitrogen, which feeds the good microbes.

but they do that just fine on the lawn. :)

Oh, and anything that didn't go down all the way you toss back in the tumbler, as starter for the new batch! ^_^

Aug. 25, 2011, 01:16 PM
We add half eaten food all the time :yes:. Actually with a tumbler off the ground I wouldn't really hesitate to add meat & dairy as long as it's away from the house (they make the compost smelly & attract rodents, but I frequently add little amounts to our compost anyway since it's far enough away & provides entertainment for the cat...).

If it's black plastic in the sun you're probably fine putting weeds in there, sounds like it would get hot enough in the summer to kill the seeds (you can always get a soil thermometer to check).

Sounds like you need more browns in there though, to create a balanced compost. Paper/cardboard/etc.

(BTW that is the sweetest tribute I've ever heard!)

Aug. 29, 2011, 12:30 PM
I have one similar to the one you describe...the corn husks/cobs and melon rinds will take a long time to compost...if it gets cold where you are, the compost might freeze...mine did (in northern NJ) and I sort of broke my tumbler trying to force it to tumble...good old dad fixed it....manure/shavings is a big help to compost the kitchen material....

Have fun...the compost you will get will be awesome in your garden!! My dad passed away last year and i have been avoiding the garden this year, so no composting... just can't bring myself to go back there. I am sure I'll pick it up again!