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Botanic Garden > Plant Nutrition > Composting > Composting Basics > How to Build a Compost Tumbler

How to Build a Compost Tumbler

2016/8/9 9:26:51
A compost tumbler is the solution to a lot of problems that arise due to conventional composting. The technique of building one is very simple, and this article will guide you with the same.

The barrel is the most important component of a compost tumbler and you should be very careful while picking one. The barrels used for storing pickles and fruit juices, are available at restaurants or with food distributors. See that you pick a plastic barrel with a tight lid. A 50-gallon barrel is optimum for building a compost tumbler.

The list of items required is given below.
  • Plastic Barrel (20-55 gallons)
  • Drilling machine
  • Wooden planks
  • Bolts
  • Galvanized rod
Step #1
Wash the barrel properly to get rid of any toxic chemicals or residue. Measure the height of the barrel and mark the center and drill two holes opposite each other. The diameter of the holes should be equal to the diameter of the galvanized rod. Then, on the surface of the barrel, drill ½ inch evenly placed holes. Drill holes on the lid and the bottom of the barrel, too.

Step #2
In this step, prepare the frame that will help rotate the tumbler. You can build an X-shaped frame or a vertical frame. Use the wooden planks to build a frame of your choice. Ensure that the frame is well-built to support the weight of the compost tumbler.

Step #3
Now, assemble the frame and the barrel. Place the barrel in the frame and pass the galvanized rod through the holes. Properly align the holes of the frame and the barrel while installing the rod. Place the pipe caps at the end of the galvanized rod and fix the barrel to the frame. Your compost tumbler is ready.

Building a frame to rotate the tumbler is optional, you can also manually rotate the tumbler on the ground. For making a compost tumbler without a frame, follow the steps given below.

Step #1
Cut out a square piece from one of the barrel surfaces. Attach this to the barrel with the help of a hinge. This will act as a flap or a opening, through which you can insert the compost in the tumbler.

Step #2
Drill even-spaced holes on the barrel. See that the lid of the barrel is shut tightly and does not open up easily. You can insert galvanized rods in the barrel to break large lumps in the compost.

Using a Compost Tumbler

Use a variety of organic matter to fill it. The things you can include in the compost are listed below.
  • Grass obtained from lawn-cutting.
  • Leftover food.
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps.
  • Egg shells
  • Newspaper
  • Tea bags, dregs of coffee.
The things you should never include are:
  • Meat
  • Fish and poultry waste
  • Milk products waste
  • Pet waste
Some useful tips for using the compost tumbler:
  • While adding the compost, do not include too much of a single item. The amount of the items you include in the compost should be properly balanced.
  • Chop the waste into smaller pieces before putting it into the compost tumbler.
  • Add a small amount of water regularly to it. Ensure that the compost always stays damp. But do not add excess water.
  • Spin the tumbler 2-3 times a week.
  • Do not fill the tumbler completely, fill only about 2/3rd to 3/4th of the barrel.
Building a compost tumbler cuts down the stink encountered in conventional composting, and also uses comparatively lesser space. You can also use innovative ideas to make it in different shapes.

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