Welcoming our Compost Overlord

I mentioned we had exciting composting news and I can now reveal that the Dalek mothership has landed.

We’ve been curious about compost tumblers ever since visiting my friend’s parents’ amazingly productive plot. It’s fair to say that our own adventures in composting haven’t really been more than partially successful so far.

Enter the compost tumbler (or technically speaking the ComposTumbler), which cost How Much!? and promises speedy compost (as long as your average temperatures are high enough), or at least the opportunity to spend less time emptying and refilling an ever-growing platoon of daleks.

In between shelling out for this behemoth and it arriving, the subject of compost tumblers came up on Gardeners’ Question Time where they were roundly dismissed. All we needed to make compost, Bob Flowerdew opined airily, was four pallets joined together – and to turn it regularly. As it happens we do have four pallets but I also have A Shoulder and that has made turning the compost a bit painful, and probably unwise. And besides – while I’m all for frugal gardening and the creative use of pallets – there’s something about having a great big steampunkish metal contraption that is equally appealing.

The other half assembled it in the garage, and yesterday we carried it out onto its stand in composting corner where we filled it up with a starter load of stuff that had been festering (or, more properly, failing to fester) in one of the daleks all winter. According to the very detailed instructions that came with the beast, we should be taking its temperature daily (disappointingly it did not come with a spreadsheet for recording it, although it did include a few graphs) to ensure the magic is happening, and turning it at least four times a week.

You would think that would be enough, but I’m slowly realising that composting is an exacting science and we are also going to need a decent shredder. Plus, in order to get the right balance of carbon and nitrogen, separate holding areas for things like grass clippings and wood chippings. Not to mention somewhere for kitchen and garden waste while we wait for the tumbler to do its work and somewhere to store the finished compost once it’s completed it. Compost Corner clearly still has a way to go.

I have long suspected that gardening largely comes down to the accumulation of stuff to go into the compost. Now, I am sure of it.

7 Responses to Welcoming our Compost Overlord

  1. Flighty says:

    My compost bin is four pallets, into which which I add most things but don’t turn it just leave for a year or two. I’ve never worried about the science or the right balance and always been happy with what I dig out each year. xx

  2. disgruntled says:

    Ah, you’re doing better than us then! We may still resort to the pallets when all else fails

  3. Charles says:

    I take my clippings to the recycling centre as I have far too many to cope with as my garden is 90% lawn. I think compost is about being patient, I think in a good year it takes about a year for a Dalek to do its stuff. When I was a lad no one turned their compost they just had huge heaps and when it was needed people simply went mining for the good stuff. I think compost miner sounds like a promising job.

  4. efis707 says:

    I love your title and references to Steampunk and ‘ the Overlord’, thanks if you hadn’t have mentioned these things I’d have never had made these connections. Being a compost geek and composting author I’m a little one step removed ; I am thinking when considering linkages between topics, what are the outer limits ? I think I’ve found it here 🙂

  5. disgruntled says:

    Ha! Glad to be of service to a proper composting expert!

  6. […] lunchtime, with the work still not in evidence, I had to get a bit creative. Time to empty the compost tumbler and start a new batch. We’ve been turning the current batch for a few weeks and while it […]

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