Rotating Barrel Composter Questions

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Seamus, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Seamus

    Seamus Active Member

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    Currently I have a commonly seen black plastic composter in my back yard. Right now I'm slowly layering yard waste (brown) and kitchen waste (green), trying to keep it 50/50. Of course I don't expect to see any results until the spring from this composter, it only has a max of 8 weeks on it right now, and it stinks pretty badly when turned haha, so I leave it alone to do its own thing. I've become interested in a DIY rotating barrel composter. I have the space, time and resources for it but I have a couple questions. Will it smell like my black composter when turned if I keep the mix 50/50? Companies advertize usable compost in as little as 2 weeks, which isn't likely, but would 6-8 weeks be reasonable with a DIY composter? Sorry for the newbie compost questions haha, thanks!
     
  2. BunkyX

    BunkyX Active Member

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    I had a barrel composter a few decades ago and never had any problems. Your odor problem sounds like you may have too much kitchen waste and not enough dry material. In effect it is too wet, or some of your kitchen waste contain animal by products (fats, oils, etc.) Your compost should never be wet just damp.

    As far as the barrel composter goes, yes it works pretty good. Of course the ambient temperature has a good amount of influence on its process. Because I live in Florida I had to put a shade over mine during the summer months to keep it from becoming overheated. But it worked pretty much like they said it would.

    Gene
     
  3. Seamus

    Seamus Active Member

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    I'm quite particular about keeping animal by-products out of my compost (other then egg shells) but there really isn't much brown matter in the mix. I work at a grocery store in the produce section so I ended up filling the whole composter full of half rotten veggies in a few days. It has compacted itself ovet the last two months, being about 50% of its original size now. I think I'll collect some more brown material and mix it in on the next rainy day. I say on the next rainy day because it takes a day or two for the smell to go away after it has been stirred, and my neighbours will be inside hahaha.

    I'm quite interested in the rotating composter now, I intend to turn my ground level veggie garden into a raised bed in the fall, which means I'll need atleast 54 cu.ft. of soil, and I've spent enough of garden center soil this spring haha, so cutting that number back by adding my own compost would be nice.

    Was your barrel composter homemade or purchased?
     
  4. BunkyX

    BunkyX Active Member

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    I actually made mine out of a plastic 55 gal. barrel. At the time I got the specs from some magazine, Organic Gardening I think. As I said it worked quite well as long as I kept it from over heating during the summer months. I used a lot of yard waste, and dried grass clippings, some not so dry, coffee grounds and tea grounds, egg shells (rinsed out), vegetable trimmings, cleanings from hair brushes, etc. Sometimes I would rotate it twice a day, morning and evening. Or just in the evening if I was in a rush in the morning. It worked great overall, I just stopped adding wet material to it about a week or so before I planned on using the compost.
    As far as the odor of your present pile goes, maybe it is the egg shells, do you rinse them? Also if your pile becomes anerobic instead of areobic it will start to smell. I have heard of people who put a pvc pipe, with holes drilled through it, through their pile and it helps solve the problem. If nothing else turn it and fluff it up often to keep the air in the pile. That's what the rotating barrel does. Good luck!
    Gene
     
  5. Seamus

    Seamus Active Member

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    I think it could be the eggshells. I never thought to wash them out, but they all go into the composter. I'll be sure to rinse them off from now on. I have some weeping tile that isn't being used, I think I might punch some larger holes in it and stick it down into the center of the pile, thanks for the tip!

    I'm looking for some advice on my own rotating composter. I have the perfect spot for it, a spot where it only gets direct sun in the early morning, and is shaded by trees for the rest of the day. I'm confident I can find a "food grade" 55 gal. plastic drum, and I've found plans on the net. The plans aren't especially detailed, but that doesn't much matter. I am wondering where I should drill vents, how large they should be and how many? would four 2" holes on each end be enough? Also, would it be beneficial to add some paddles/pegs to the inside of the drum to stir it up even more?
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Barrel Composter Questions can be rotated by writing them on paper, and then spinning the paper



    Sorry, couldn't resist . . . ;-)
     

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