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Composter recommendations

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Composter recommendations

Post  High Desert on 4/13/2016, 7:03 pm

Hi, new to forum, SFG, and composting for a purpose (vegetable gardens).  We are setting up two SFG's now and wanted to get a composter to set up for future use.  There are a gazillion of these things on the market and run from very cheap to very expensive.  What I am looking for is something in the 35 to 80 gallon range (I think??) and does not leak fluid, easy to load / unload, easy for my wife to turn and is a good stable, and well made product.  I am totally open to suggestions / recommendations based on experiences you have gone through.  I live in central Oregon, so we have a fairly short growing season and usually have our first freezes in early October with ability to start transplanting in May.  Appreciate any help offered.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  No_Such_Reality on 4/13/2016, 7:29 pm

I went through two different ones, loads of frustration and at time disgust before settling on old school and being way happier and having lots less 'work'.  So please read the below as a highlight of my bad experiences.

Two important things.   First, it's going to 'leak' or drain some fluid.  They won't leak while rotating unless you're compost is saturated.   Second, the compost tumblers like this one 
are really intended to work fully loaded, carefully balanced brown/green ratios and after running everything through a chipper/shredder to insure small size and then having an appropriate water balance in it.  If you do all that, composters like that will make compost in two weeks during summer.  If you don't, it still makes compost, just takes longer.  Sometimes much longer.  Does that sound like a lot of work and mess?  It was for me.  Depending on design, any stick like thing more than 6 inches long will get tangled on the internal mechanisms for turning over the compost.  It then either gets stuck or the compost clumps and piles.  

While you're waiting for that batch to cook up into compost, you have to gather and store the next load of pre-compost matter. And store it somewhere.  Ideally, you empty the composter and completely refill it with the next load.  Alternatively, if you time it right, you make your compost, toss whatever yard/garden/food waste you'd typically compost for the two or three weeks and then just start loading the composter until it's full. but that makes it really hard to get the green/brown ratios right and slows it down.

Also, since I live in sunny California, the UV inhibitors were nice, but after a year in the sun, the plastic still gets brittle and prone to breakage.  Crank handles, joint hinges etc can crack and break if you get a fresh load that's a little two wet or 'clumps' up.

So, nutshell, they sound like great ideas, for me personally, I found them to be rather impractical, somewhat messy.  

The old school method I went with is really simple.  I just used the lidded trash cans with wheels, drill aeration holes in them and dump my garden, yard and food scraps in, when it gets a little too green and attracts flies or smells, I gather up about a two inch layer of dried leaves and top it.  Just keep piling in over time until full, then close it up and let it cook, rot and get eaten for a few months.  When the second one gets full, I dump the first ones, take out the finished compost from the bottom, put the unfinished back in and start loading on top again.  I'll just roughly snip anything I'm throwing in and move on.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  sanderson on 4/14/2016, 4:14 am

High Desert, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here Regarding composters, take a look at our Search Box for composters. There are comments about different brands, styles, pros and cons. Some, when almost full, are really hard to turn.

Many women on this Forum have compost bins and use horse pitch forks for turning the bins. This is my horse fork that I bought at Home Depot.

Material can be added and stored in the bin until it's full. Then take the material out and replace, layering with barn manure, watering as it's built. Compost can be ready in a month or a year, depending on how often it is turned, and other factors.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  jimmy cee on 4/14/2016, 8:13 am

This tumbler is about the best in my opinion, I use it as a toy in winter..When spring comes I transfer the material to my main piles. turns easy, a chamber underneath to gather leachatte, in the sun for 4 years and not affected, and the company by any standards  is top notch in my opinion...

https://www.envirocycle.com/







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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  herblover on 4/14/2016, 12:07 pm

My "system" is even simpler;  I reuse large cat litter containers (lidded hard plastic with metal handles).  I dump my kitchen composter (one of the small ceramic ones) in there, roll it around and let it do its work.  Every time I add to it, I let it air out for awhile until the smell dissipates.  They stack easily in my garage and don't get too heavy for me to carry out to the garden.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  High Desert on 4/14/2016, 12:31 pm

Thanks for the replies back on ideas.  Basically, I do not want to go the bin process as the only area I have is off one of the back yards.  I am starting out with about 30 square feet of raised garden and will grow from there, probably. Since there are only two of us, I don't need to go crazy with compost, plus I have the horses that have given me compost over time from their (aged) manure for use.  I have shoveled and turned my fair share of horse manure over the past 10 years.  What I am leaning towards is something in a dual chamber, like the Jora JK125 or Forest City Yimby.  Has anyone had experience with either of these units?  It seems a dual chambered model gives compost quicker as opposed to having to "load" up a large, single chamber, then what for it to cure.  In the meantime, what do you do with scraps until then (unless you have a bib, I suppose)?

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  yolos on 4/14/2016, 1:50 pm

Check out John Kholer's video on the various composters he has. He likes the Jora270 the best in this video. But I think he did a later video (I can't find it) where he said he liked the Jora400 better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwRpdR9vxMo

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  High Desert on 4/14/2016, 6:38 pm

Made a decision and the purchase today.  Went ahead and got the Yimby as the first composter.  If this works out well, and I don't screw it up, then I will upgrade to the Joba JK125 later.  Got a response back fro the Canadian company saying this model will easily compost for 4 - 6 people and the JK 270 will do for 8 - 12.  Here is actual response back on my query:

"Thank you for your inquiry. Normally a NE127 is for 4 to 6 people and a NE271 is for 8 to 12 people. If you want to add yard material, I would go with the larger one as the 127 would fill up quickly with yard material. As well, if you plan to put a lot of material in you might consider the NE401 which is capable of composting one ton of material over one year. 
Have you ever weighed the amount of kitchen and yard waste you produce each week? That may give you a better idea.
As for yard material, we do not recommend putting in grass or leaves but anything from the garden is okay.
If you chop up your waste material it will compost faster so that helps to reduce the waste quickly."


Thanks for your help and suggestions,

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  sanderson on 4/15/2016, 2:24 am

High Desert, You will have to provide updates on how it works for you. Curious that they don't recommend grass or leaves. Leaves are a great carbon product for compost.

Some day my back will say, "No more turning compost piles!" So, I'm watching for good turning composters (2) for the future.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  Zmoore on 4/15/2016, 7:48 am

@High Desert wrote:Made a decision and the purchase today.  Went ahead and got the Yimby as the first composter.  

Awesome! I just got a YIMBY for Christmas and I'm looking forward to playing with it. 

I technically started playing with it right after Christmas in the dead of winter and currently have some compost in it that's been going for 3 months now and while it has broken down some, not real pleased with the batch.  However, I think that is largely due to the fact that I just kind of threw some stuff together, it was cold, and it got dry on me.  Anyway, in near future I'm going to empty what I have and try again.  I think cold snap is about over so look forward to trying it with some warmer temperatures.  I think I'll just use what I have in the YIMBY to "innoculate" the next cold pile I start and "finish" it off that way.

FYI, my YIMBY is a 5 c.f. model.  2.5 c.f. per side.  That's about 19 gallons per side or almost four 5 gal. buckets. That might help in terms of thinking of ratio purposes.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/15/2016, 10:51 am

The one problem I have with the Envirocycle is that the door is so small as to make it difficult to remove the compost.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  sanderson on 4/15/2016, 3:45 pm

Donna, What size Envirocycle do you have?

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/15/2016, 4:25 pm

Sanderson,

I couldn't tell you how many gallons or cubic feet it holds, but the door itself is 11.5" and the barrel is 24" in diameter.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  sanderson on 4/15/2016, 4:59 pm

There were 2 sizes displayed on their website. Just wondering which size you have. Very Happy

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  High Desert on 4/16/2016, 6:53 pm

Got the Yimby put together yesterday afternoon.  Included directions were weird, don't know where you have to be from to understand it, so found a place on the internet that gave a step by step written and pictorial process, start to finish.  It was very clear as to what to do.  Yimby went together easily, fit well, no drilling(!!) as opposed to Lifetime products.  Just nuts and screws.  Really like the way it is set up, so am now starting to accumulate material to load up.

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Re: Composter recommendations

Post  sanderson on 4/17/2016, 4:10 am

HD, Thank you for the feedback on assembly.

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Re: Composter recommendations

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