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Features Of Compost Tumbler

By Expert Author: Composting Warehouse

A compost tumbler is a piece of equipment that is used to mix and aerate organic matter into compost. The compost material is then applied to gardens and in around bushes and trees to enrich the soil with beneficial nutrients. Composting promotes healthy growth and longevity in plant life. Tumblers come in a variety of sizes and configuration to meet any application need, and the process is easy and cost-effective.

Compost Tumbler Description

There are four basic designs of compost tumblers that are used to mix organic matter. The most common design features a large drum that sits off the ground supported by a frame. The drum is hand-cranked, causing the drum to spin horizontally and mix the contents. A center-axle drum sits vertically on a similar frame but the rotation point allows the drum to flip end over end, achieving the same results. A base rolling drum sits horizontally with a shaft through each end. The rolling drum is spun by hand to tumble the contents. Sphere tumblers are simple giant balls that are loaded from an access door and rolled over the surface to mix the contents. Any plastic or metal drum that has a removable lid can be used as a tumbler; they are simply rolled over the surface of the yard to mix the contents.

The size of the compost tumbler depends upon the application, whether it is needed for a small home garden or a larger commercial project. Generally, the sizes range from a small 45 or 55 gallon container to 185 gallon capacity. The larger sizes make them difficult to tumble by hand because of the increased weight but the size of the load can be controlled. Tumblers are generally loaded for one large batch and processed to the end of the cycle.

Tumbler Contents

Common organic matter added to a joraform composter can be composed of material from a variety of sources. The base material loaded into a tumbler is a quantity of finished compost. Processed compost already contains the small organisms required to break down organic matter. Compost starter is available if no processed compost is available. A quantity of soil is also added. Other sources include organic food scraps like leafy vegetable and fruit matter (no meat) such as lettuce, cabbage, egg shells, carrots, rinds, potatoes, spinach, and other such scraps. The most plentiful source is grass clippings, weeds, leaves and yard pruning material. Newspapers and cardboard work well, because they can breakdown into slurry of organic matter. Two types of compost, brown and green, are added. Brown organic matter consists of dead and dried material like leaves, grass and dead plants. Green material is freshly cut plants, leaves or food scraps. A 2 to 1 ratio of brown to green is advised for each load.

Tumbling Time and Duration

It is best to wait 5 to 7 days after loading a compost tumbler. This is known as the hot phase and involves the release of heat, the sign of the organic material breaking down and changing form. A compost thermometer comes in handy for monitoring the temperature of the load. As soon as the temperature begins to drop, tumbling can begin. Thereafter the load should heat up again for a brief time period and then begin to cool. A second tumble is needed after the cooling period. A third tumble may not be needed, since the material might remain only warm with no hot or cool fluctuations. Additional tumbling is advised if a bad smell is detected. Water should only be added to moisten the contents if it appears extremely dry.

Benefits

A Compost tumbler provide a closed and secure container to hold material as opposed to an open bin that may sit in the yard. This keeps animals and insects from disturbing the contents. Tumbler rotation is much easier than manually shoveling or forking compost material. Tumbling affords a more thorough mix of the organic materials, producing more uniform aeration while retaining moisture. The end result is a compost material filled with beneficial nutrients to the soil which provides fast and healthy growth to trees, flowers, shrubs, grass and bushes.

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