Is a tumbler an effective way to create good compost? I am looking for a way to create compost and keep the components secure from the dirty trash pandas while it's breaking down. I would be making it from a 55 gallon drum.
Just wanted to get a poll from a forum of people I trust since opinions on compost tumbler effectiveness seem to be all over the place.
From my understanding many people prefer to have the compost pile in contact with the ground and microbial life in the soil. But, I would think a tumbler would be good for composting while keeping the raccoons out, and you can always inoculate it by including a scoop of native soil in the tumbler while it's composting.
I use a very large (1000L+) tumbler made from an old oil tank. I don't have trash pandas, but I definitely have bears.
I find it works best as a two step process: I fill the tumbler full of materials (scraps, leaves, clippings) over the course of a month or two and let it do it's thing, giving it a tumble weekly. After the contents are no longer recognizable as 'food' I transfer to an open pile, and start filling the tumbler with fresh compostables.
I'd say it takes a bit longer, but eventually gives the same product.
I very much second Kc's suggestion of inoculating with native soil. I also reserve the larger incompletely composted chunks left over after sifting, and cycle them through again.
I love my tumbler, definitely put some native soil, finished compost, or manure in there , something to kick start it. The ONLY thing I dont like about it is since it is not in contact with the ground, the red worms die over the winter. In my container ones that are in contact with the ground, the worms live over the winter (in the soil perhaps? )
Zone 5b, dry, high desert in New Mexico 7500' elevation
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I used to obsess about making the perfect compost pile that would break down to something like coffee grounds in weeks to months. I always failed. I the saw a compost tumbler my neighbors have and it indeed makes absolutely perfect, black, crumbly compost in about 2 weeks.
But the tumbler was expensive so I never got one and I realized that while my compost was was never very good, the *pile* itself was magnificent for the soil. I no longer care about the compost, so I strategically locate the pile where the compost drippings and microbes and goodness can seep into the soil and work their magic.
I like to think of my compost piles as being like a version of chop and drop. Maybe something like chop and pile and wait till spring.