A few birthdays ago I wished for a composter. I did a little research & asked for an Envirocycle Composter. I have been very pleased with the design & the ease of turning it. I love how the base is able to collect up to 5 gallons of liquid fertilizer or compost tea & the drum is indented for easy gripping & rolling!
At first, I placed the composter in my backyard as far away from my vegetable garden as I could, because I was worried that it might attract critters to the garden. However, after a few months and a little reading, I realized that my tumbler wasn’t getting enough sun. The composting process goes faster with a little heat. The plastic tumbler works much better in the sun! Right now I have it right by the garden which is the sunniest spot in our backyard. I moved it there right before I planted my spring garden this year. Knock on some wood, it has not attracted any critters yet!
Most compost gurus tell you to keep a 60/40 mix of wet to dry organic matter. I just throw about 50/50 mix in there. It’s easier that way & its organic matter, it will decompose one way or another. It’s hard to judge a 50/50 mix when looking into the compost tumbler, but I just remember to put even amounts of wet and dry materials as I’m adding to the pile. Occasionally, I have to stick my head in and get dirty. The organic materials often clump together, but you can help separate it with a gardening tool or a glove. I would not use straw in the plastic tumbler either. After one Halloween we had some leftover hay bales and I thought this would be a great dry ingredient, I was wrong. It takes forever to break up & it didn’t seem to do well with the tumbling design. Hay is always recommended, but may be better for other composting systems. I’ll stick with pine needles, newspaper, and our saw dust for now!
Getting the right 50/50 wet & dry mix wasn’t that easy. I had a terrible habit in the kitchen that I had to break before I successfully started making compost. How was I going to stop throwing all my kitchen scraps away? It was so easy! I would remember and do good for a week, but then I would forget about it or get in a hurry. Lots of people recommend composter crocks, tupperware containers, and cookie jars to place on your counter. They create an easy space to stash some scraps until you could take a trip to the composter. I finally stopped throwing our kitchen scraps away & I started taking them all to the composter. I have found that the smaller I break or chop up my scraps the faster my composter works! I still take many trips out to tumbler, but I have been on the hunt for a vintage cookie jar!
Last March I read an article in Ode magazine that inspired me to get more serious about composting & break that habit of throwing things away. Our soil is just as important as our air & our water, and we are losing it at an alarming rate. Our communities need to get back to supporting local produce & backyard gardening methods. Conventional agricultural methods are not sustainable!!!
“For every unit of food we consume, using the conventional agricultural methods employed in the U.S., six times that amount of topsoil is lost. Since, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the average person eats a ton of food each year, that works out to 12,000 pounds (5,443 kilograms) of topsoil. John Jeavons estimates that using current farming practices we have 40 to 80 years of arable soil left.” ~Larry Gallanger, The Joy of Dirt http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/69/dirt/