Homemade compost tumbler

I’ve been wanting a compost tumbler.  We generate enough yard, rabbit, and kitchen waste, I should be able to make some slammin’ compost!

Where my uncle works, they get plenty of things in 55-gallon metal drums, so we were able to get one for free (Thank you, Uncle’s boss!).  It had some sort of solvent/denatured alcohol stuff in it, so we let it air for a long, long time.  Months.  I know these barrels aren’t normally favored for this, but by the time Shay started working on it, the residue was gone.  It just smelled of rusty drum.  Some cement, some wood, some wheels, and some hardware, and Shay has turned it into a compost tumbler for me.

My new compost tumbler!

It rides on wheels, and is turned by a handle on the side. I do have to be careful as I am bringing the handle back up and around, that I don't lift it off of the wheels. Occasionally, it does start to roll off track, but, as long as I keep an eye on one of the wheels, I catch it quickly and just reverse the direction until it pops back into place.

Holes drilled in the ends, and in a row along the bottom, ensure good air flow through the contents and also help release excess water.

A file made these edges safe. I don't run my fingers along them on purpose, but I shouldn't get cut on them by accident.

I’ve already filled it up with dropped hay, bunny berries, garden trimmings, and such.  Now I just need to paint it black!

I rotate it every day or two, spraying the contents with water when needed.  We don’t have a lawn mower (my grandmother made my uncle get rid of it so he wouldn’t mow the yard anymore because of his age — so someone else cuts the yard), so I can’t grind the stuff up before I put it in there.  This will make it take longer to turn to compost than if I was able to shred everything up really fine.  Oh, well.

Shay admits that it cost more in the end than he expected because of the hardware (had to be suitable for outdoors), but I have a compost tumbler, and I’m happy! :)


Comments

Homemade compost tumbler — 11 Comments

  1. That is a GREAT idea!
    I have a Barrel that has been sitting around,
    I think I may try to make one. Can you email me any specific plans?
    I am thinking maybe if the wheels were a bit closer to the center rather than right on the edge it might not be so apt to jump off the track.
    I like that Idea.
    Dennis, C.V.R.

    • I’ll be happy to, Dennis! I’ll also give you some links to others’ ideas that we consulted. :)

      I think that if you move the wheels closer to the center, the tumbler will probably wander from side to side more, unless you have another way to keep it from doing so. I’ll look it up.

    • It’s working great! The stuff I put in there is taking a while, but I knew it would, because I put a lot of full-length hay in it. The smaller the pieces you put in, the faster the compost is finished (I don’t have a lawnmower). But it’s cooking. Every time I open it, it’s damp and I see steam coming out. So it’s getting there!

      I did get a couple of bins as well, so I’ll be putting those out and working on filling them. I’m sure turning my rolling bin will be much easier to deal with, though!

  2. I told Shay I’ve got requests for plans, so I’ll be posting them soon. It is cheaper than $200. It cost about $100. Shay used heavy-duty materials, so that’s why the cost. The hardware will probably outlive the barrel!

    • Oh, goodness, I forgot about snow. I’ll remind Shay that I need plans. Maybe I can get it up this weekend, but it may be next week (busy weekend). Sorry about that!

  3. This is the exact tumbler I want to make. Could you send me the plans or better yet, post them on your site so everyone can appreciate!

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