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compost balls!

Post  offtheporch on 7/2/2012, 10:29 pm

I've been using a tumbler composter and both batches I have made have turned out tennis ball-sized balls of compost. From the research I've done in the archives of these forums, I think I have too much green stuff. If I let it "cook" for a longer time will the balls turn into crumbly compost? I have had it in the composter for about 10 weeks and wonder if it's "done".
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Re: compost balls!

Post  Kelejan on 7/3/2012, 12:09 am

offtheporch, try breaking up one of these "tennis balls" to see what it is made of. If something like grass, then put the TBs aside and sift what you already have, I bet it is near finished. Then break the TBS and mix in some browns, and the remnents of the sifted compost, mix well, and away you go again.

On the other hand, the balls may consist of worm colonies. Good news if you have worms.

PS That is what I would do; I really have no idea if I am right. Expert opinions, please?
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Re: compost balls!

Post  Triciasgarden on 7/3/2012, 12:41 am

Sounds good to me too but alas I am not very experienced in this area. I have a composter also so I will have to see if that happens to me.
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Re: compost balls!

Post  Cincinnati on 7/3/2012, 7:45 am

@offtheporch wrote:I've been using a tumbler composter ....

I have a tumbler too. I believe I get clumps and balls because the product clumps together as I add water to it. Regardless of why I get them, sometimes the clumps are finished, sometimes they are clumps of grass that have not finished decaying. I simply break them up by hand if necessary. I occasionally use a pitch fork and turn the compost in the drum, throwing it against the sides of the drum. Sometimes this doesn't work and then I resort to sifting through the batch by hand.


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Re: compost balls!

Post  GWN on 7/3/2012, 10:27 am

One time I dumped the whole tumbler out and stomped on all the balls with some success
I have found that the balls formed when the compost was too wet and I found adding more leaves and
"browns" seemed to help
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Re: compost balls!

Post  Cincinnati on 7/3/2012, 11:50 am

@GWN wrote:One time I dumped the whole tumbler out and stomped on all the balls with some success
I have found that the balls formed when the compost was too wet and I found adding more leaves and
"browns" seemed to help

If the clumps are compost, every time you add more stuff to the drum, you start the clock all over for that batch.

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Re: compost balls!

Post  Kelejan on 7/3/2012, 11:54 am

@Cincinnati wrote:
@GWN wrote:One time I dumped the whole tumbler out and stomped on all the balls with some success
I have found that the balls formed when the compost was too wet and I found adding more leaves and
"browns" seemed to help

If the clumps are compost, every time you add more stuff to the drum, you start the clock all over for that batch.

If the clumps are compost, then that is why you need to take them out and start a new batch.
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Re: compost balls!

Post  offtheporch on 7/3/2012, 2:49 pm

@Kelejan wrote:
@Cincinnati wrote:
@GWN wrote:One time I dumped the whole tumbler out and stomped on all the balls with some success
I have found that the balls formed when the compost was too wet and I found adding more leaves and
"browns" seemed to help

If the clumps are compost, every time you add more stuff to the drum, you start the clock all over for that batch.

If the clumps are compost, then that is why you need to take them out and start a new batch.

That's what my question was to a certain extent...when it turns into the balls, does that mean it's done?
Also with this tumbler composter you do it in a "batch" meaning you don't keep adding stuff as you go. You load it once and let it "cook" just keeping it moist and turning it every few days. I sounds like the balls form because there is too much green. That's good to know.
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Re: compost balls!

Post  Cincinnati on 7/3/2012, 3:59 pm

@offtheporch wrote:... sounds like the balls form because there is too much green. That's good to know.

NOt necessarily. That's what I'm trying to tell you. I have to periodically add water to my drum as the compost dries out. Sometimes the clumps form after the composting process is complete. Sometimes they form before it is complete.

IF, when you break open the clumps, you can recognize the raw ingredients as grass or whatever, then the clumps are not finished composting.

IF, when you break them open, it crumbles into finer pieces, then it is finished composting.


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Re: compost balls!

Post  offtheporch on 7/3/2012, 4:37 pm

@Cincinnati wrote:
@offtheporch wrote:... sounds like the balls form because there is too much green. That's good to know.

NOt necessarily. That's what I'm trying to tell you. I have to periodically add water to my drum as the compost dries out. Sometimes the clumps form after the composting process is complete. Sometimes they form before it is complete.

IF, when you break open the clumps, you can recognize the raw ingredients as grass or whatever, then the clumps are not finished composting.

IF, when you break them open, it crumbles into finer pieces, then it is finished composting.


Ok, Got it. Thank you so much for clearing it up for me. You've been very helpful.
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