Dual compost tumblers

Compost Tumblers

Gardening and composting are two homestead concepts that go hand in hand. I could have gone out and bought a compost tumbler but I thought I would rather build one myself.After looking at a number of compost bin designs online I decided to build something very similar to the instructions found here and expanded on hereI updated this post in September after using the compost tumblers for two months.

The first thing I had to get a hold of for my compost tumblers were two 60 gallon barrels. I had gotten barrels from Stuart at Perennial Harvest in the past so I called him up and lined up 2 black food grade barrels. I took a trip to the local hardware store to get some of the other supplies I did not have on hand – some 3/4″ galvanized pipe and large diameter PVC pipe.

Building the Compost Tumblers

Building the frame for the compost tumblers was a simple enough process. I used a miter saw to cut the 2″ x 6″ lumber to the correct lengths and a jigsaw for rounding the tops. My center design was slightly different then either of the plans mentioned earlier. I felt it would be simpler and stronger to basically make two of the single tumblers and have them share a leg support.

Once the frame was built I drilled holes in the barrels and mounted the ventilation system. I also drilled air holes in the handles of the compost tumblers. Next I used some window screen to finish them off. Where the other designs had used glue for this I instead used zip ties. Finally I drilled the holes for the axle using the barrel seems to line everything up.

Mounting the barrels on the axle and frame is probably the most challenging part. The holes I had drilled were so tight I had to file them out a bit to get everything on.

Update September 2014

The compost tumblers have been working well. I have been focusing on filling one side until it is loosely packed and then giving it some time to settle/decompose. The material decomposes quite rapidly and it seems like they are producing compost reasonably well. There is a noticeable heat when opening the tumblers and a pleasant smell. The tumblers are not as heavy as I thought they would be and the spin easily enough.

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