Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Composting Karma

It is time, I think, to unveil my super-duper, space-age, Lifetime 65 Gallon Composter.  Yes, I bit the bullet, took the plunge, went for broke, jumped in at the deep end, and took one for the team by purchasing this hi-tech tumbling aerator in an effort to improve (decrease) my carbon footprint and to help me appear to be a gardener worth...whatever organic brownie points I can get.  Good golly, Miss Molly, rotting vegetable material has gotten so complicated!

I had been eyeing this little gem, and other similar artificial composting bins in Sam's Club and in various gardening catalogues, for quite some time. I had weighed the benefits of tumbling versus "in-at-the-top-out-at-the-bottom composters" for some time and since I only infrequently and reluctantly turn my low-tech, toss-in-the-weeds garden compost pile, I became convinced that a tumbling composter would allow more frequent aeration of the material (it would be less work, anyway) and thus help me be a better composter. This plastic monstrosity, purchased at Sam's Club, had dropped to around $80.00 a month ago when I finally brought it home, so I guess I finally found the point where the price intersected with my basic Miserness.  For gosh sakes, don't buy it at the manufacturer's link above, where the identical composter is listed for $169.99, nor on, where it was priced above $130. 

This particular composter is designed with black, double-walled panels to absorb and retain heat, has an internal mixing bar that increases aeration of the material, and a large door to make it easy to get "stuff"in and out of.  I don't know if it is the "best" available, and I am not an agent for the company, but it seemed to fit what I wanted.  While many would deny that I could ever be mistaken for an accomplished composter, I do know a little about the theory, and so far all those embellishments sound okay to me.  Even so, although the accompanying instructional material talks about finished compost in as little as a month, I'm not going to hold my breath. It is merely a compost tumbler, not a miracle catalyst that will turn a lazy gardener into a reincarnation of Jerome Irving Rodale.

In the past, Mrs. ProfessorRoush has been resistant to participating in the creation of compost because the standard compost pile in my garden is a long walk up and down a hill from the house. For that reason, I placed the new tumbler in a convenient spot about 20 feet from the back door in an effort to encourage Mrs. ProfessorRoush to add the kitchen peelings to it.  Although she initially grumbled that it would smell and draw rodents and snakes, she finally agreed that the great Organic Gardening Gods would likely pleased by her sacrifice.  Okay, I don't know, along with all the sighs and eye-rollings, maybe she just decided to humor her half-crazy husband.  Anyway, I assured her that as long as she didn't add meat, eggs, grease, or our non-house-trained Italian Greyhound to the composter, it would not become a blight upon the entire household.  And I take it as a sign of good will that she has since taken that first step of keeping most of the household vegetable and fruit peelings for me and telling me when they were ready to be walked the twenty feet outside and placed into the composter. 

I have just one question remaining about the composter.  How long, do you think, do I have to use it before the environmental benefits I gain will make up for all the plastic and aluminum and stainless steel composing it and also offset the fuel to ship it here from China?  Just wondering when my carbon footprint karma will balance out?


  1. I want one of those! Perhaps one day... but for now I just use the old fashioned turn-it-yourself method. But it's good too! ::Jill

  2. didn't know quite how to comment on this one. Jealous I don't have one at that price. My pile looks like a windrow at a municipal recycling plant. Spousal unit doesn't like it the way it is, however she is putting peelings in a bowl for me. Probably took at lest a barrel of oil to produce it.

  3. I have a tumbling roll-your-own composter, black recycled plastic, no double skin, no metal bits as far as I can see - which may be an environmental plus but I suspect means its life span will be commensurately shorter. However, I'm very pleased with it so far, having had it about a year. As well as rows of aeration holes at intervals on the barrel it has a row of little holes at the bottom (which can be kept open or shut) which, if I remember to place a bucket underneath and leave the holes open, creates compost tea. No smell that I've detected. Avocado skins take a long time to break down but everything else seems to compost very quickly despite my very haphazard tumbling schedule and neglect of the finer aspects of composting - correct proportions of wet and dry matter etc etc. It seems very forgiving of my ignorance and neglect. Highly recommended.

  4. Looks great!! I wouldn't mind having one of those!
    We have a pile right behind a climbing rose and once a year I harvest enough black gold to give my plants a boost.

  5. I'm going to be very curious to hear how it works for you. We have the traditional pile surrounded by upright pallets (where we pile what is available with no regard to wet/dry/green/brown proportions and that rarely gets turned.) We find we can take compost from it about once a year in the early spring, but it would be nice to have a more regular source of good compost.

  6. Keep watching. I'll post again in a couple of months.

  7. About the composter, I mean...I'll post again about the composter. If I didn't post at all in 2 months, regular readers would think I had died.

  8. Way to go! I'd like one of those..some day.
    I'll have to turn mine myself for now

  9. That looks like a good idea. We can't get into our compost heap anymore since the nettles grew in front of it. Hubby keeps threatening to remove them (the nettles) but I notice they are now 8 feet tall and heading for the top of the garage roof. Maybe next spring. Should have pleanty of compost by then!

  10. Thank you James for your article on composting. We really like the lifetime composters as well. Lifetime also makes two other sizes:
    lifetime 50 gallon composter
    and a
    lifetime 75 gallon composter


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