The Urban Compost Tumbler

No, I'm not planning to shoot cannons from my front porch. This is a compost tumbler that my husband and I assembled one rainy day, and it just took a while to make its way off the porch and to the side yard.

I was thrilled when the folks at Organic Compost Tumbler asked me to try their product. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have been an avid container gardener since I've moved south, as I've been avoiding working digging in our "orange cement". Now I've sworn to give up my fears and start digging in. And adding compost is the #1 best way to improve our soil in this red-clay state.

As an eco-freak, I also like the idea of avoiding chemical fertilizers and reducing my contribution to the landfills. And of course it's great for your plants, but I won't elaborate since listing the virtues of compost to an audience of gardeners is like preaching to the choir.

But you might not have thought about using a compost tumbler before.

Why use a tumbler?
Previously my attempts at compost were an unsightly, neglected pile in the side yard. Yes, I know I'm supposed to turn it with a pitchfork and water it occasionally. How often do I get around to it? How about never.

So the advantages for me are:
1. Looks and smells better than a pile of rotting refuse.
2. Much more convenient to turn and aerate (see the picture of the central aeration chamber below).
3. Much quicker than conventional composting.
4. Our daughter won't be able to try playing in it.

Some Assembly Required?
Those three words often strike fear into my heart. But the Urban Compost Tumbler was not difficult to put together. It came with detailed instructions, including plenty of *real* pictures. I'm a very visual person, so this helped out a lot.

As they say, if all else fails read the directions. The hardest part for us was putting together the two halves of the barrel in the tongue and groove connection (see picture below) .

The directions said to add something slippery like soap or vegetable oil. Well since my husband's strategy is to pound things together with a hammer and brute force, and follow the directions only if necessary, I was sure that he was going to break this thing before I even got to use it. But the barrel held up surprisingly well. Whatever secret material this composter is made of, it's very sturdy. I think it will be very durable and last us many seasons.

In the next post: Recipes for Speedy Composting

( The folks at Urban Compost Tumbler say that you can make compost in just *13 days* once you "season" the barrel. )


David said...

I've heard of these things and have always wondered how well they worked. Please keep us updated on your composting process.

Wicked Gardener said...

13 days? Wow. Let us know if really works.

Paul D. said...

I will be interested to see if the resulting compost is as nice looking as that in the advertisement.

Anonymous said...

I have one of these and it's great. I haven't gotten compost in 13 days, more like 21 days. But that's still much quicker than the big pile I used to have.

Anonymous said...

I grew up near Omaha, Nebraska, where my father's family farmed. In 1960 we moved to Arkansas, where I've lived for 48 years. Many folks retire here from the "black dirt country" of the midwest. I pass on to newcomers what a fine gardener advised me many years ago: add cottonseed hulls to the so-called "topsoil" you're able to get for your raised beds. My experience has been that 100 lbs. of cottonseed hulls and a little time transform red clay into loose, rich soil. And the occasional cotton plant that sprouts provides an educational experience for the children. A local feed store orders the cottonseed hulls for me. ( :

Unknown said...

I,ve had my UTC going now for much longer than 21 days. I believe that it might be too wet. I doesn't smell bad, the compost seems to ball up though. Is this normal? I figured I would have a finished product by now.

Anonymous said...

These things are really interesting....
thanks for sharing....

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Online Marketing Consultant said...

I'm a big fan of the urban compost tumbler. I've been using this compost tumbler for the past year and find it's a work horse. It can handle large loads and is well built. It is a little difficult to turn when it's too full, so don't over fill. It's pretty much animal proof, being off the ground and doesn't have the smell that our open compost had.

Clicker Garage Door Opener said...

Great article and information, I am thinking of doing a website on urban compost tumblers. Thanks for the post.