Tired of maintaining a compost pile? Consider a composter drum.
For gardeners who have limited space and don’t generate huge amounts of waste, drum composting provides many advantages over the traditional compost pile. A composter drum is an easy, convenient way to produce quality fertilizer for your plants and trees and is generally a neater and less-messy practice than building and maintaining a compost pile. Also, homemade compost is a lot cheaper than pre-packaged preparations.
Along with the obvious personal benefits, drum composting also contributes to a cleaner environment by reducing the amount of waste that gets carried to landfills that may already be at or beyond capacity. Using a compost drum is a clean, green move that more and more home gardeners are embracing.
If you use a 55-gallon steel barrel as a drum composter, it can be stored wherever you have a little space – a corner of your garage, alongside your garden or amidst your lawn and garden equipment. Waste stored in a composting drum is pest-resistant and won’t fill the air with unpleasant odors. Another advantage is that the drums, also called "tumblers," can be used in many urban areas where laws prohibit compost piles.
How to do drum composting
Setup is basic and requires few tools. Drill holes in the bottom of the composting drum for ventilation. Set the drum, long-ways, on bricks or blocks so that air can pass beneath it. For increased ventilation, install a hollow pipe, also with holes in it, down into the center of the drum. The pipe should be three to four feet tall.
Through the open end of the drum, add food scraps, leaves, yard cuttings, garbage and other waste. Then wet down the contents, seal off the end of the drum and leave it alone for about six weeks. When that time has passed, you can start turning the barrel to add air, which along with nitrogen, carbon and water is necessary to convert waste matter into compost. A compost drum can be turned by hand, or you can buy a complete system that turns with a crank shaft.
Some manufactures of compost drums claim a finished compost can be obtained in as little as 14 days, but most experts agree the entire process takes about 10 weeks. Contrary to popular opinion, drum composting doesn’t produce a finished compost any faster than an open compost pile, but many gardeners prefer the simplicity and convenience of a drum.
In addition to steel barrels, wooden barrels or kegs and metal or plastic trash cans can be excellent drum composters. Whatever device you choose, you’ll be creating a high-quality compost for your plants and trees while doing your part to help the planet thrive and survive.
Urban Composting – Home of the Urban Compost Tumbler – Promoting home composting.