Compost and my Tumbler

4 Sep 2014
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United Kingdom

I have had a compost tumbler for a few months now and I am starting to get some form of compost in there. I am using mainly my small animal poo and their bedding as well as coffee and tea. I have moved the previous compost from my old composter into these new tumblers so they had something to start of the composting process with. I have read about the brown and green 10:1 ratio and to keep tumbling it since the air is what makes the process speed up. I recently added some of the leaves from the garden and since then it appears very moist. I am currently adding a lot of the animal bedding and poo in to soak it up but I am not sure if I am doing the right thing.

I have attached some pictures of the animal poo and bedding which will be going into my compost when I get a bit of room to put it in and also the compost as it stands in both chambers and also a picture of the animal bedding since it states its good for compost all over it.

Please could you let me know if what I am doing is the correct thing and if you could point me in the direction needed if not or just any general tips would be great.



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It looks like you have quite a bit of animal poo (do you have a herd of elephants?) so what you have there looks more like regular manure which could do with rotting down a bit more.

Don't add too many leaves to the compost: they break down through a different process and if added in quantity will cool the heap down which isn't what you want.

Personally, if I was you, I would probably start with a sensible mix of kitchen and garden waste with not too much of any one thing. Add smallish amounts of manure as and when the heap needs a bit more life. If you have a lot of leaves these are best collected and stored in their own (cold) heap to turn into leafmould, which is great for improving soil. Any excess manure can be composted on its own and used 'as is'.

Bob Flowerdew's books are a great source of sensible information on composting.
lol no its all herbivore poo so just gerbil, chinchilla and degus poo so its mainly hay. It looks that way since its gone all clumpy and I am trying to break up the clumps and then add in some of the bedding to soak it up so it can rot down a bit quicker which has worked in the tumbler with the smaller looking balls. As I get quite a bit of the bedding and poo each week I would like it to go into the compost since I can use it. I don't like to throw out things if I don't have too since we now have smaller bins in the area.

The heap currently is dropping down each day by a considerable amount so to me it seems like its doing what it should be but I could be wrong as it seems active but just very wet hence the big clumps. Which is why I was thinking it needed to have more brown stuff in such as the bedding which seems to be working but I am not an expert and I am doing this for the first time.

I did however try the kitchen scraps and garden waste with the bedding but for some reason I kept ending up with a big mush which stunk! I wasn't adding loads of any single thing just a cut up banana peel here and there threw in a few grass cuttings now and again and some bedding for the browns with obviously some poo for some reason it just stank and kept going to mush and I kept throwing it out. Hence I stared on this path with the animal bedding, coffee grounds and tea leaves and so far its not smelt so I figured I would add in the leaves which is when it went a bit wrong. I do understand and appreciate what your saying however I would like to have some compost and prefer not to start again if possible so its all ready for spring as I have a lot of gardening to do and would like to add the compost when I come to put in the gypsum (one of my first jobs when it all starts).

I didn't know that about the leaves but I did rake some up and throw them in the garage for when I next put some into the composter but I will just throw them on the soil when it comes to spring now I think after raking up the rest I have as well!.

Do you think what I am doing is correct or am I going to make it worse by doing what I am doing?


Ah, I see: I thought the clumps were the manure. I haven't used a tumbler, so don't know what effect that has so maybe wait and see if anyone here has some advice specific to that. If the material has been in there a while and you can break it apart with your fingers then you might want to try using it. Remember you're unlikely to ever produce anything like you get out of a bag from the garden center: home made tends to look more, well, rustic.

You want about the same amount of dryish stuff (twigs, hay, shredded paper and cardboard) to 'green' stuff (fresh grass clippings, hedge clippings, kitchen waste, manure). Bear in mind that if you keep adding to the heap your compost will never be ready: really you need to build up a decent amount of stuff as quickly as you can then get it rotting down. That's why on allotments people tend to have multiple bins, so they will be gathering stuff up in one, one will be rotting down, and they will be using compost from the other one.

None of what you have done should be wasted: even if it's not great, you will still be able to stick it in the soil and it will do some good.
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Thank you I am defiantly not looking for anything like what comes out of a compost bag just something which resembles it would be good lol.

I am trying to allow it to compos down but I think its just too wet to do what it needs but like I say it could be wrong. I may just keep an eye on it over the next month and keep tumbling it and see what it comes out like maybe add some poo in there with some coffee and to heat it up a bit to help with the process.

Thanks for your help and if someone who has dealt with tumblers comes along hopefully they will be able to point me in the right direction. I appreciate all information given.


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