Building Our Own Compost Tumbler

Posted: February 4, 2015 in Yard and Garden
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For a long time, we had compost piles placed randomly around the yard, where we would throw table scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, etc, into a pile, and turn it with dirt. It wasn’t working very well as far as using it in our raised beds because our soil is clay soil and we don’t want that in our beds.

It was good for the chickens since we could dig in the piles and there would be lots of worms, but we decided that what we wanted for next season was a compost tumbler. The one we wanted cost a little over $200.00. Too much. We decided to build one.

What is a compost tumbler? For us, it’s a fifty-five gallon barrel (craigslist for $25.00) in the air that’s supported by a wooden frame. You can open a door to the inside of the barrel, and dump your compost in. Then, as the name implies, you can spin the barrel, which effectively mixes the compost. This method of composting is apparently really good, so we’re giving it a shot.

We finished it yesterday, and it didn’t take too long. We were really eager to try it out last night, so we just went ahead and poured all our materials in; we had three buckets of coffee grounds (we get a bucket of grounds daily from Starbucks), a bucket of food scraps, a bucket of pine shavings and chicken poop, and a little bit of shredded paper. The bucket is already about half full, so we really need to start on another one. Dink will also be bringing home 2 huge trash bags of cabbage every week from work. Not whole cabbages, just cores and messed up outside leaves they can’t use. That is going to be awesome when we get those!! And then, when we start having to cut our grass…. well, let’s just say that we will be able to fill one of these things in no time at all and will probably have to have 3 going as well as a pile on the ground.

We did find a bit of a design flaw, though. It’s not exactly stable the way we have it, and we can’t put it on the ground; we need to put it on a level, solid substance, like concrete. We will need to strengthen it by adding a few more braces. Other than that, we need to move it to a level, solid surface. The reason being, when the ground is wet and we try to tumble the compost, the legs dig into the ground, and the whole thing wobbles. If we find a way to fix these few minor flaws, the design should work really well for us.

I also really liked the inside of the barrel…it’s just dark, but if you talk it’s really echo-ee. I took a video inside it, even though I didn’t have anything to say. Unfortunately, when I watched the video, I found that the camera didn’t even catch the echo. Oh well. We hope you like the pictures, and maybe you will even be inspired to make a compost tumbler yourself 🙂

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