Composting Tumbler

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by monkeyminions, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. monkeyminions

    monkeyminions Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm thinking of buying a tumbling compost bin. Should I get more than one? We have 7 chickens. How long does it take for the compost become useable? We would put in droppings with shavings, grass clippings, hay, coffee grounds, etc.
     
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure about how long, but check on Craigslist. I've found TWO of those things, both in perfect shape, for my SIL and they were $50 and $60 -- way less than you'd pay retail. [​IMG]
     
  3. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, my personal opinion of any kind of compost bin is pretty low. I just do "sheet composting" where I bury the material under an attractive or at least tolerable looking mulch. MUCH less work in the end, builds great soil, but it does take a lot of mulch. I go out in the fall and again in early spring and gather bags of oak leaves, use them for bird bedding and as mulch. I got over 500 bags in the fall of 2009, about 250 last fall since it was rainy every weekend and people didn't get them cleaned up well.

    The tumblers probably work well, do speed up the process, but they really don't hold very much volume.
     
  4. monkeyminions

    monkeyminions Out Of The Brooder

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    Right. I am also thinking that the volume could be an issue. We don't have a whole lot of room, and appearance is pretty important in this part of the yard. The tumbler I'm looking at is 80 gallons, and is $70 at Costco. Pretty good deal, I thought!
     
  5. swmalone

    swmalone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a tumbler and hate it, I have yet to produce decent compost. I am better off with my wired off area or my compost bin built of pallets that I used when I lived in Idaho. For some reason finding pallets around here is hard.
     
  6. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Quote:Keeping it working with close to the appropriate ratios of feedstocks, proper moisture levels, and aerating it often, it can be finished in as little as 6-8 weeks.

    The problem with owning only one is that you continuously add material to it and never really let it finish. If you stop adding to let it finish, then you have no place for your wastes. The tumblers are also very small in volume.

    We do a number of things here. There is an area behind the north side of the barn that I consider our worm bed. We dump a lot of grass clippings and green kitchen waste there. The worms come up, do their thing, and continuously reduce it, some of them even get to go fishing with me.

    We have a layer barn with a few thousand hens. We have a compost bin outside that gets a five gallon bucket of manure and broken eggs every day, along with the occasional dead hen. Here I take old bales of straw or hay and arrange them them to make a bin. I start it off by throwing a loose bale of hay or straw in there and then start adding the materials. We try to spread out the manure and the eggs as we go and keep it covered with straw. After it starts settling and compacting, I take a "bulb planter", a small auger on a cordless drill, and stir the pile the best I can, add some more straw, and keep adding materials. After a while (six months or longer) the bales start to fall apart so I break the whole pile down mixing the bales into the pile, let it heat one last time, and then let it set until I can push it into the vegetable garden. I then build another and start over.

    There's another big pile out there right now. We had a water leak in the layer barn a few weeks ago and I ended shoveling out about 20 wheel barrow loads of wet litter. I stacked it near the back of the garden to spread in the fall, but it was getting pretty putrid and the flies were breeding in it, so I had the neighbor bring over a a round bale of corn stalks. I broke that down and covered the manure pile about two feet deep in corn stalk shreds. That one is heating pretty good right now and the flies are gone.

    In my opinion the compost tumblers are too small and too expensive. Yes, they save you the labor of turning the pile with a fork, but for what it holds you could turn the same pile on the ground in a few minutes with a fork. For the most basic composting, just find a shady spot near the back of the yard and pile things up. Not being in a bin, it will dry out around the edges rapidly and you'll have to water more often and turn it with a shovel or a fork, but it will break down. The next step would be just a stationary bin, fashioned out of wood, old pallets, cinder block, straw bales, what have you... The bin helps the pile retain moisture, allows you to stack the feedstocks deeper, and helps to insulate it for better heating. Beyond that, two or three bins are helpful; one that you are adding to, one that is working on the bulk of the composting, and the third that contains finished/curing material that you can use as you see fit.
     
  7. monkeyminions

    monkeyminions Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, quite a system you have there! Thanks for the advice. Our coop is in our yard with the lawn and plants, etc, so we don't have much ground space for making a pile, which is why I've been considering the tumbler. It sounds like having two may be the way to go so that I can let one "cook" while I add to the other.
     
  8. monkeyminions

    monkeyminions Out Of The Brooder

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    By the way... love the Mary Feldman pic! [​IMG]
     
  9. monkeyminions

    monkeyminions Out Of The Brooder

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    oops!!! Marty with a T!
     
  10. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Quote:[​IMG] I used to fly with the Air Force, I came across that photo and couldn't resist.
     

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