Posted by admin on November 23, 2010
As their name implies, compost tumblers function by tumbling the compost materials so as to achieve aeration, aid in decomposition and evenly distribute moisture. As such, composting with the use of tumblers is one of the fastest ways to make finished organic fertilizer. However, before you go buying or building a composite tumbler of your own, it pays to know of some basic things about it. This way, you know what you are getting into especially in relation with compost bins and other alternatives for the use of organic fertilizer like sheet and trench composting.
Choosing Store-Bought Tumblers
There are four basic types of composite tumblers, which you can choose from in gardening supplies stores.
First, center-axle mounted drums have the drum above the ground with a single axle running through its center. To operate, you just manually rotate the drum. You need to look for units with openings at both ends for easier unloading of the finished compost.
Second, rolling drums on a base allow for the collection of compost tea at its base. This time, the barrel is located on top of a base sitting on the ground. You will have to roll the drum to load and unload compost.
Third, rolling spheres are composite tumblers with a difference – these do not have a base. Instead, these are drums that must be rolled around the yard but may also contain flat sides to allow them to stay put.
Fourth and generally considered to be the best, crank-operated rolling drums are driven by gear systems that can be hand cranked. As such, this is the easiest type to operate with the added advantage of easy loading and unloading to a wheelbarrow as well as internal mechanisms that allow for improved mixing action.
If possible, throw in a few dollars more for the crank-operated type since it pays for itself. Keep in mind that it is easier to operate, has larger capacity and lasts longer. Of course, you should always evaluate the pros and cons of the other models since each gardener’s needs and budgets definitely differ from the others.
Building Your Own
Now, if you do not have the money for composite tumblers or if you have the knack for do-it-yourself projects, then building your own is an excellent option.
Look for either a 55-gallon steel drum or a 45-gallon plastic drum, which can be bought from stores or maybe found just lying around in junk shops. If you are using a steel drum, paint it all over with rust-resistant paint.
Drill 1/4 -inch holes in the sides of the drum to allow oxygen to enter. Of course, make a re-sealable opening at one end.
Make two holes in the middle of the drum, one on each side, to allow any rust-resistant metal to be threaded through them.
Erect two poles on the ground such that their distance should be sufficient to place the drum between them with about a foot of clearance on each side. Mount cups on top of these upright poles upon which the drum’s pole will be placed on. Make sure that the clearance between drum and ground is not less than 3 feet.
Mount the drum and place the locks.
With the variety of composite tumblers available, there is simply no excuse not to use them.