Using the Compost Tumbler

Brief guide to get you started with the Compost Tumbler

Why compost? Composting is a noble art with a very long history in sustainable food production. More and more, people are motivated by the desire for healthy soil, healthier food and smaller environmental footprint. If all food waste was composted, food grown in our farms and gardens would be healthy, tasty and good to eat.

How to compost

Making compost is just like making a cake. We need the right ingredients in the correct proportions and mixed properly. We also need to get the moisture content and aeration right. But unlike making a cake, we don’t have to be too precise about how we mix things.

In simple terms, we are managing a balance between stuff that is easy to break down, and stuff that takes a bit longer. This is most easily understood by calling the easy-to-breakdown stuff the ‘green’, and the harder-to-break-down stuff, the ‘brown’. A 50/50 mixture of green to brown is a great place to start for successful composting.

Simple steps

1. Collect kitchen scraps in a kitchen caddy or indoor composter. It will speed things up if you chop this waste where possible.

2. Add the kitchen scraps to composter with some ‘brown’ scraps at similar time-frames. Try to chop up or shred the brown waste as well if possible. If using the divided option start by adding to one half only. Use the door with the ‘+’ symbol to remind you which side is being filled.

3. Turn the composter at least 2-3 times a week. When adding waste always give it a few turns.

4. Keep adding until full (or too hard to turn) ensuring to keep the consistency right. Once the first side is full, start filling the other compartment. Make sure to swap the doors so now the ‘o’ door is on the side that you just filled and the ‘+’ is on the empty side.

5. You will know when the ‘o’ side is ready when the contents look and smell like soil. Once it is ready, rotate the opening to the bottom, place a bucket or Compost Cart under and then slide the door open to let the compost fall out. You may need to help it come out by using a trowel to scrape it out

6. Once empty swap the doors around again and start filling the empty side and repeat

What to compost

Table 1 below gives you an idea of what is green and what is brown. Table two gives you some idea of what else you can / cannot put into compost. For best results chop or shred greens and browns before adding, and make sure the mix is moist, not wet. Remember, we want to blend green and brown 50 / 50 by weight, not by volume.

How to compost

This is where you get rewarded for your attention to your compost bin. Composting can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 24 weeks to mature and be ready to be applied to your garden. Compost that you buy from shops is usually quite fine because commercial composters screen the material before sale to remove the chunky bits.

You are encouraged to do the same as you will most likely find large particles such as twigs or mango or avocado stones still not broken down. It is a simple process to remove these by hand and put them back into the compost to continue breaking down.

Compost can be surface applied or dug into the soil. If you are applying compost to an established garden or under fruit trees, you really have no choice but to apply it to the surface as you can’t easily dig it in. If you are applying compost to your vegetable garden, then you want to dig it in.

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