Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

June 11, 2007

Compost Day

Sunday was compost day around here. I've been collecting my compost thus far this year, not in a pile, but in a bucket. Well a tote actually. I took one of those 20-30 gallon totes that you can pick up just about anywhere, It was an old one that was begginning to crack so I gave it new life as my compost container.

As you can see I cut a ton of holes around the outside and the bottom of the tote, and elevated it on a couple of 4x4's. This whole thing was a sort of experiment. The last compost pile that I attempted was pathetic. although since the pumpkins that I had put in it did not decompose entirely, I did get a bunch of pumpkin plants to grow in that spot the next year. Anyway, I decided to try a different method this year.

So far I think it's been working out pretty well. This is the stage that my compost is at right now. I started it... hmm let me think for a second. . . . sometime around two months ago. I think that if I just let this go for another week or so, I could put it in the garden with no problems, but I really don't know what to look for to know when it's done. It is very rich and dark though and has no real stink

What I did today was to add the scraps that I collected last week in the house, as well as my paper towels and some other greens to the pile.
•First I spread out what was in the tote on a tarp. This just seems to me to be the easiest way to do it. I tried mixing it in while the existing compost was in the tote and it didn't seem to get the stuff up off the bottom as well.

•This is the inside and out glazed ceramic cookie jar that I picked up for a buck at the Thrift store. I keep it under the counter next to the trash can and put all my kitchen scraps in it. It has a rubber seal in the lid and keeps any smell inside the container. I also mix in all of my coffee grounds and that helps to keep the stink down I think. The next step for this process is to dump out all of these onto the pile on the tarp.

These are the two bags of used paper towels that we collected over the last two weeks. I wadded them up and gave them a quick spray with the hose to dampen them. Wading up helps to trap air inside them, and spraying seems to help them break down a little faster. I go ahead and mixed these into the compost along with the greens that I added warlier. I use these paper towels to double as my "Browns". Generally you would use dried leaves or the like, but there are very few mature trees around me that leave any dried leaves and besides, this is a great way to get rid of used paper products.

This is my new compost tumbler. I made this out of an old pickle barrel that I was able to pick up for $20.00. All of the wood is re-used construction waste. The rollers are the old skateboard wheels and bearings from one of my kids old boards. The only new items on this are the peices of hardware to hold it together.

I cut into it and made an opening side that I hinged with some old rubber that I had laying around. (If you've seen the pictures of my garage, you'd understand I don't throw anything out.) On the side with the two openings for filling, I riveted some rabbit wire on the inside to allow for air transfer without all the compost falling out. On the bottom I cut into it and made a larger central hole for the same reason.
Now that I had all of the compost items mixed together well, I added them into the composter. Gave it a spin for good measure and will leave it closed to "cook" for a while before turning it again.

As a side note; I am pleased with how the tumbler came out, but have since found that the bottom side of the barrel, the one that does not have the rib around it, is not nearly as strong as the top end. You can see in the last picture that the left side of the composter has started to dent in slightly. I has dented more since then but is still useable. I am going to be keeping a lookout for a metal drum to replace this one with for the longrun and I'm sure I will make some sort of modification to this one for the short term, but for now I think this will work well.


Anthony said...

This is outstanding! Building a compost tumbler out of an old pickle barrel is a Macgyver-like feat. Well done.

And I think I'm going to copy your saving old paper towels idea. I don't like throwing them in the trash but they do take up lots of room in my kitchen crock. So I'm going to keep them separate like you do now. Great idea.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

nice design!I was trying to think of a way to come up with a compost barrel. Right now it is just a pile...

P~ said...

Thanks Guys, I appreciate it.
I think I may have actually come up with a solution to the denting problem too. I am going to make some type of concaved underpinning for it and add mulitple "roller bearing" type elements, most likely made out of some old black pvc that I have laying around. This should diffuse the weight off of the individual wheels (less lbs per sq. inch) and allow the tumbler to operate easier as well.

Trust me I'll post any changes!

Anonymous said...

righton! I still have this on my to do list, so thank you for the ideas. White trash rocks.

Crunchy Chicken said...

That looks great! Sure beats my compost pile.

Rhonda Jean said...

oh gee, I love your tumbler. I've always refused to buy one because they're too expensive, but they make fast compost. My H could make this, I'll show him your post later. Thanks P!

Just a tip - if you have any comfrey growing, it makes an excellent additive to the compost as it encourages decomposition.

Rhonda Jean said...

thanks for adding me to your blog list too. : )

P~ said...

Rhonda Jean~
I know that was always my problem with them as well. I just refused to pay $135.00+ for something that will hold trash essentially.

Surprisingly a number of you seem interested in duplicating something like this. Just wanted to tell you that, as I said earlier, I think I have worked out a solution to the denting problem that I had. Of course that solution is still in my head, but I trust it will work. I'm getting ready to head out on a vacation for a couple of weeks, and I will be revamping it when I get back. I also want to illustrate the design and will be posting it here for any who are interested.

Anonymous said...

I'm mostly impressed you found a pickle barrel. They're like gold around here. We had to *buy* food-grade plastic barrels for our rain barrel project.

Anonymous said...

After using this for a while, do you think the compost gets enough air without much ventilation?

P~ said...

It's been sometime since I've used either of these actually, but I can say for sure that the bucket system, because was regularly turned did get good aeration, however, the barrel did not work as well. I have a pre-manufactured one now that has a tube on the inside that allows air flow and it works great!