Lifetime Composter, now available

Lifetime Composter, now available

Lifetime Composter, now available

Lifetime ComposterThere’s a lot to cover when you talk about compost. First let me talk about Lifetime’s new Composter, available at BuyLifetime.com with free shipping! If you’re not familiar with compost, don’t worry, I’ll cover that further down in this article, too.

I saw initial designs and a prototype at a recent company meeting, and being the “back to nature” kind of guy that I am I wanted one right away, but I had to wait until the product made it to market. Yesterday I was able to buy my very own Lifetime Composter.

First off, this thing is HUGE, but it doesn’t take up a lot of space. It fits easily in a 4-foot square (the footprint of my old compost pile), and wow, does it hold a lot! 75 gallons or 10 cubic feet to be exact.

The theory behind most tumbler-style composters is that by rolling or “tumbling” the composter every day or so you aerate, mix, and turn the compost regularly, and it’s much easier than doing it by hand. This, combined with the enclosed nature of the tumbler helps Lifetime Composterkeep the heat inside, which speeds up the process. I’m sold on the tumbling variety, but have never purchased one for myself due to the terribly high prices – until now.

One of the name-brands that I looked at has a list-price of $534.00 – and MORE! Go to Google and search for “compost tumbler” and take a look at the prices (and the sizes), don’t forget to add shipping costs if you’re going to order online.

So, why choose the Lifetime Composter?

So far I love this thing! I’ll write later with some pictures of my first batch of cooked compost.

Now, for those of you who don’t know about composting, you really need to start making your own compost today!

Anyone who has a yard needs to do something with their yard waste. If you have a kitchen you have to do something with your kitchen scraps. If you don’t have a compost pile, compost heap, or some other kind of composter you’re missing out on one of the best things you can do for your yard!

Compost, when you buy it from the nursery or lawn and garden store, is very, very expensive.

Someone has a turkey farm, they pile the manure, turn it a bit, and in 6-8 months they bag it and sell it to you as compost.

Someone has a saw mill, they pile the saw dust, mix in some soil, turn it a bit, and in 6-8 months they bag it and sell it to you as compost.

Someone grows vegetables, they pile the trimmings and damaged food, turn it a bit, and in 6-8 months they bag is and sell it to you as compost.

See a pattern here? Instead of those people paying someone to haul off their waste, they turn it into compost and get you to buy it! You’re just spending money on someone else’s waste! What a racket!

You have yard waste (lawn clippings, trimmings, weeds, etc.) and table scraps (egg shells, greens, fruit peels and cores, unused vegetables), all you need is a place keep it all, turn is a bit, and in a month or so you’ve made your very own compost! (Depending on how often you turn it and how much mass you have, of course.) That’s where tumbler-style composters like the Lifetime Composter makes easy work (no pitch-forks required).

Cooked compost is a necessary component for Square-Foot Gardens, for anyone who has house plants, and anyone with trees, shrubs, or a lawn.

For lawns, if you have a dry or “hard packed” spot, top-dress that area with a layer of compost just thick enough to cover the area so the tops of the grass is barely showing. Repeat the top-dressing every few weeks until the problem is solved. Adding the compost adds organic material and fertilizes the area, helps balance soil pH, and helps prevent drying out.

For trees, top-dress around the base of the tree, staying a few inches away from the trunk and covering the entire drip-area beneath the tree.

For shrubs and bushes, top-dress 6- to 8-inches away from the outer-most leaves. For flowers, top-dress lightly.

For Square-Foot gardens, add a trowel or two every time you harvest or plant a square.

Give it a shot and let me know how your composting goes!

Check out the Previous Post:
Impromptu Kids' Picnic Table

Joe

Joe

Name: Joe

Position at Lifetime Products: Web Developer. What does that mean? I work with the rest of the web team to put great designs into industry standard HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET MVC, and use other techno-jargon stuff to help our customers find what they're looking for, learn about our products, and have a fun time doing it.

Social Networks: 

How long at Lifetime Products: Since November 2005

Background: You’ve always wanted to know who on earth Joe is, and even if you haven't we're going to tell you anyway! He was born in Weber County, Utah, USA. He is a descendant of Paiute (Native American) heritage and is a member of the Kanosh (Utah) Band. He is a member of various community, church, and civic organizations, and is actively involved with local, state, and national government. He is concerned with customer service and is striving to educate businesses concerning proper “consumer etiquette”. Joe is a Thawte Web of Trust Notary and is involved with seamless Digital Signatures utilizing Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and similar technologies. He is a husband and father. He rides his recumbent bicycle to work every day. He enjoys gardening, houseplants, mobile computing, camping, authoring web sites, working in the yard, and spending time with his family. How does he do it all? We really don’t have the foggiest. Some have suspected he’s discovered the secrets of cold fusion, while others think he may be an android. We may never know for certain.

My favorite Lifetime Products: Lifetime Yard cart, outdoor sheds, camp tables, and picnic tables

Read all posts by Joe

Comments

rolandovillage

4/15/2009 6:03:28 PM

I picked up a Lifetime Composter at my local Costco for only $99. Not sure if they still have them but I've had it only 3 weeks and it works great! In the first two weeks it created 30 gallons of excellent compost that came out smelling and feeling like fresh fertile soil.

Reply

David

4/22/2009 9:31:52 PM

Thanks for composting info.  Just bought the Lifetime Tumbler.  Didn't realize how much I saved at Costco $99 versus $299 at Lifetime website.  I guess it was worth my $50 costco annual membership although I had to go to several different stores--the first 2 costcos sold out and the last store in San Antonio had only 4 left in store--I guess it was a one-time buy like Sams Club often does.  Can't wait to set it up.  

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Barbara Dykman

5/2/2009 4:09:05 PM

We've struggled to page 24 in your instruction booklet, but do not understand how one can simply secure the legs using the phillips self-tapping screws.  There is no hole in the metal of BIH to match up with the frame.  Is there a secret way to screw the screws into metal?  Help!

Reply

joe

joe

5/11/2009 6:04:35 PM

@Barbara Dykman,

Good question. The screws are self-tapping, meaning they will cut their own holes are you're driving them in.

If you don't have a powered screwdriver (or a drill with a screw driving bit) this step may be somewhat difficult.

Let me know how it worked out and how your compost is cooking!

- joe @ Lifetime Products

Reply

joe

joe

5/11/2009 6:06:47 PM

@David,

$99 at Costco? That's AMAZING! I doubt they'll be able to keep them in stock at that price, so make sure you ask for a rain check if they don't have any when you stop by.

I've done some comparing online, and $299 is a PHENOMENAL deal when compared to similar products going for $500 to $600 dollars.

Let me know how your compost turns out!

- joe @ Lifetime Products

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Linda C.

5/18/2009 7:48:48 PM

I purchased one from Costco also, it was the last one and no booklet/manual... does anyone have a copy that I could get a hold of?  Please email if you do. Thanks so much... looking forward to using this baby.

Linda C. :)

[Email address removed by administrator for privacy.]

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Jerry

6/8/2009 8:52:10 AM

Help

Need to try and warrenty out the plastic pipe in the center of our composter. Mine bent and I'm trying to find out where to go.

Please email me at [removed by administrator for privacy].

Thank you.

Reply

joe

joe

6/8/2009 9:33:15 AM

@Linda C,

Have you checked out our Assembly Instructions page over at www.Lifetime.com? www.lifetime.com/.../instructions.aspx

Check in the Lawn and Garden > Storage Boxes and Composters section. The composter I purchased is model number 60021.

If you still can't find the assembly instructions there feel free to contact us using the information found here: www.lifetime.com/.../contact-lifetime.aspx

- joe @ Lifetime Products

Reply

joe

joe

6/8/2009 9:34:39 AM

@Jerry,

Contact our Customer Care department, they'll be able to help you out. www.lifetime.com/.../contact-lifetime.aspx

- joe @ Lifetime Products

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Laura

6/16/2009 9:55:03 AM

We also bought one at Costco, great price.

It was composting so well. Turning got difficult as it filled, but my husband has no problem, so now it is his job. In fact, it worked so well, the stuff got nice and hot and warped the plastic pole that is supposed to help in stirring.

Reply

Darrin

Darrin

6/19/2009 2:24:52 PM

Hey Laura, sounds like you are having fun with your Lifetime Composter. I love mine too. I have a tricky yard to get in and out of so having somewhere to put my scraps and have them magically reappear as useful mulch is fantastic.

About your aeration bar, please Contact our Customer Care department, they'll be able to help you out. www.lifetime.com/.../contact-lifetime.aspx

Watch the temperature in your Composter. Your compost pile should not reach temperatures above 150 degrees F. If it does, it is not getting enough aeration or has an overabundance of green materials (nitrogen).

You can also move it out of direct sunlight to help bring down the temperature. Happy Composting!

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Charlie

7/18/2009 6:19:00 AM

Hi,

Everything dynamic and very positively! :)

Have a nice day

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John

9/6/2009 5:25:12 PM

Love my new composter, but am wondering how i harvest the compost without getting all of the stuff that hasn't broken down yet. How do i do that?

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Jami Stallings

9/26/2009 6:56:38 AM

I bought a lifetime composter and realize that I have not been caring for mine right. I set it in the yard propped up on bricks. I only feed it food waste from inside my house and it gets up as high as the breather bar. I haven't been turning it is my problem. I didn't realize that turning it so much is the best.

I ocassionally add potted plant waste/dirt. My question is, how do I keep it from growing stuff in my yard? It sprouted some deformed veggies. I'm guessing these are the veggies of mutated grocery store veggies. My wife and I tasted the honeydew melon that grew from this shovel of stuff i put in a plant garden and it was weirding us out. I should have taken a picture. The inside was sweet and it got large, but it seemed unhealthy. i didn't add more compost for fear it would keep spourting more weird melon plants. I don't want the compost scraps to grow. I just want compost. What do I do? Thanks

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Darrin

Darrin

10/22/2009 2:54:54 PM

@ John

Glad you like the composter. There really is no great way to seperate the "cooked" stuff from the "non-cooked" stuff. Ideally you would be making an entire batch at one time. The compost that is ready won't "over-cook" so you could just wait for it all to finish. Another idea is to get another composter. You could stagger the "cooking" cycles to always have compost ready.

Reply

Darrin

Darrin

10/22/2009 3:01:43 PM

@Jami

Wow, this is a new one. Sounds to me like either aliens have taken over your garden and are using it for their own evil purposes or your mixture isn't quite right. Compost should not sprout growth itself. If it is it probably has not cooked long enough. The compost should look and smell like dirt when it is finshed. Try letting it cook longer and adding more yard trimmings.

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Harold

2/13/2010 1:45:50 PM

I bought my composter at Costco for $99.00. Last one they had in a box. I see where some folks are saying their aeriation bar is plastic and bent and fell out. My aeration bar is metal so the company must of changed from plastic. I don't see how it provides air since it does not have open ends to the outside of the composter. Mounting the composter on cement building blocks to elevate it off the ground so a wheelbarrow can be put under it is an aid in emptying it. I also think adding worms help the process.

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Frank Lytle

3/5/2010 7:56:45 AM

Does this composter require actual dirt ot top soil to begin "cooking" compost?

Reply

joe

joe

3/5/2010 11:29:39 AM

@Laura,

Compost can get really toasty! I've found that in the middle of the summer, providing a little shade works wonders in keeping the temps down (and the exterior cool enough to handle). A few others have noticed warping of the "stirring pole" (for lack of a better word). Contact our Customer Support department, they'll get you taken care of! (See my prior comment for the URL) :)

@John,

Following up on Darrin's comment, full batching is the best, but I find it hard to have enough "stuff" to compost all at once, the Lifetime Composter is really BIG! There are two ways around this (that I've found, please feel free to share your ideas).

After I got started typing I realized how much information it was! So I'll put that in a new post for you. Thanks for the great idea for an article! :)

@Jami,

There are two ways to compost: aerobic and anaerobic. You want the former -- trust me.

Aerobic means the "stuff" doing the composting breathes air, hence why it's necessary to turn your compost at least every 3 days (and why we have that "breather bar" in the middle). This supplies the "good bacteria" with the air they need to survive, and they enjoy eating and breaking down the raw materials you are composting. If you don't turn it you'll get the OTHER kind of decomposing, which is how you get that offensive "rotten" or "stinky" smell.

Like Darrin said, a properly cooked compost mix should get hot enough to "kill" any and all seeds that are in it. You're either not getting your mix hot enough (add more mix), or not cooking it long enough. Usually the latter is caused by adding stuff to the mix along the way. Try not adding anything for the final week or two of composting, you'll be amazed. :)

@Harold,

Don't add worms!! Those little wrigglers are right at home in your soil, but they will cook to death in your composter! If you come across one of the little guys in your composter, rescue him and put him in one of your flower beds or the garden. His friends the "friendly bacteria" are what you want doing all the work in your Lifetime Composter.

On a related note, you can purchase a "worm composter" which uses worms rather than bacteria to decompose stuff. Lifetime doesn't make one, but they are really fun (as long as you're not creeped out by thousands of wriggling worms). They are fairly high maintenance, you must feed and water them, and keep them warm, and you must drain the excess water FREQUENTLY (save those milk jugs!). The "water" that you drain off is called "compost tea" and it's POTENT stuff. Dilute it 1 to 19 (yes, you read that correctly) and use it to water house plants, brown/yellow spots on your lawn, or even your garden! They'll love it!

Whew! That was a lot of comments! Awesome! I'm going to write a new article (since composting season is almost here), so, if you don't mind, let's comment on the new article...

Thanks!

- Joe @ Lifetime

Reply

John

4/30/2010 5:05:59 PM

Does the Lifetime tumbling composter has a drain hole for letting out any water that might have gotten in?

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Patty

5/12/2010 11:32:57 AM

Just bought the Lifetime Composter at Costco and now know what a great deal I got!  I just started (my first) vegetable garden and wanted to make my own compost, but was very intimidated by all the "turning" Yuk!...  So excited that this does it for you by just rolling the tumbler!  I am trying to talk my neighbor into getting one too before Costco runs out!

I have to say it was quite a chore putting it together so I left it to my husband (thanks Mike!) though some steps of assembly took both of us.  Even so, it's definitely worth it.  Can't wait to put my first batch in my new garden.

Thank you Joe for all the useful information.  When will your new article be ready?

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Trish McDermott

5/21/2010 9:36:57 PM

We've been using our Lifetime composter for a week now. Got one because we wanted to self-compost our new/first garden, and wanted one that was easy-to-use and turn. Picked it up at the Redwood City (SF Bay Area) Costco for $99. When we purchased it, it was one of 10 in stock, and no other Costcos in the area had it in stock.

So far, we've mostly tossed in kitchen scraps. Also put in grass clippings from a neighbor's weed-free lawn (asked his gardner to please set the grass aside for us... I owe that man a box of Girl Scout cookies!), and coffee grounds. This last addition was from our local Starbucks, probably at least 2+ gallons worth. All you have to do is go in and ask for the grounds, or see if they package it and keep it by the door (different stores handle this differently).

@Joe, thanks for the info about not adding worms. We'd wondered about that, and were about to research whether it was an okay thing to do.

Re: Putting it together... took two adults, just like the directions say. However, we were very surprised at the amount of tools Lifetime expects you to have on hand/know how to use. We were also surprised that we had to drill some of the holes in the plastic ourselves. We didn't have any trouble with the self-tapping screws.

Reply

Jan

5/22/2010 10:42:26 AM

@John

No, there is not a drain hole specifically... It is designed in such a way that the entire container is not air tight. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows additional necessary air flow and second, allows excess water to drain out.

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Debbie

6/14/2010 8:33:43 PM

I love my lifetime compost spinner.  I think I have done something wrong because I have smelly compost that clumps together.  I have put wet grass in it and a bunch of kitchen scraps (veggie and fruit only).  I have misplaced the instructions and am wondering if anyone has ideas where I can get them again and how to fix my mess.

Thanks.

Reply

joe

joe

6/22/2010 2:02:12 PM

@Debbie,

When your compost is "stinky" it usually means it's too wet, or not being turned frequently enough.

To combat this you can add dry material to the mix, saw dust, dry grass, dry coffee grounds, hair trimmings, etc.; or you can open the lid and let some of the moisture evaporate (keep track of the weather, you don't want to turn your composter into a rain catcher!).

Also, turning your composter more frequently when it's wetter will help provide air to the entire mass which will help with the aerobic decomposition that you're after.

Lastly, wet grass. Have you ever looked at horse droppings? Looks a lot like grass clumps, doesn't it? Putting large amounts of wet grass (freshly cut) in your composter, or not spreading it through the mass will basically make horse droppings: semi-round clumps of grass. There's nothing "wrong" with this, it's just not as nice to look at as that black compost that you were expecting.

To get around this cut your grass and empty a small layer of it in your composter. If the layer is more than an inch thick, close the lid, spin the composter a couple times to mix it in, then repeat the process until you're out of grass. For good measure, throw a small shovel-full of top-soil in on top of the grass to provide a new supply of microorganisms to feast on the grass.

If grass is the primary source of your composting materials you'll want to do a couple things: spread the grass clippings as thinly as possible over a tarp (weight down the corners to keep it from blowing away) and let it dry out in the sunlight. Once the grass is dry (2-3 days, depending on humidity and temperature) throw some top soil across the tarp, and put the whole mix into your composter and inch at a time (just like we mentioned above).

You might still have too much grass using this method. If that's the case you have two options: use less grass, or use more other stuff.

You can get more "other" stuff from local grocers (talk to the produce manager and ask if he has any compostible materials that he'll give you. He might be hesitant, afraid that you might be taking them to eat, but if he won't budge, you can always try another grocery store.

Check your local restaurant, coffee shop, or even convenience store, ask them for their used coffee grounds (and filters). They'll usually be happy to let someone take them (rather than pay someone to take them away). Dry the grounds before adding them to your compost.

You could talk to your local barber shop or salon and ask for their hair trimmings, though I would personally use this as a last resort (if at all). My families clippings are okay, but someone elses? I don't know who they are or what "product" they use on their hair.

Last, but not least, if you still have more grass that you can use, use it as mulch! Four-inches of grass clippings laid over almost anything will choke it out, and turn into a nice looking, natural mulch under your plants -- no composting needed. Just take care to keep the clippings from touching the stems/trunks of whatever you're mulching (you don't want to encourage rot). My Dad uses grass clippings from his yard in all of his flower-beds as a mulch and top-dressing to keep down the weeds, and keep in the moisture.

Thoughts?

- Joe

Reply

Lisa

6/23/2010 11:14:46 PM

Just got a Lifetime composter, what's the best way to get started?  Just start chucking stuff in?  I don't get much grass clippings, we have a mulching mower, and I don't have much in the way of kitchin scraps yet.  Any advice would be appreciated!

Reply

joe

joe

6/24/2010 10:59:59 AM

@Lisa,

The best way to get started composting is just like you mentioned... just start chucking stuff in.

Things to keep in mind:

- Smaller pieces compost faster (if you want to speed the process, chop your stuff up before you chuck it in, but that's entirely optional; corn cobs don't compost quickly at all!)

- Toss a trowel-full of top-soil in to help get things "cooking" (that will provide the microorganisms necessary to break down the materials)

- Actively look for stuff to put in (compost cooks best when you have a sufficiently large mass to keep in the heat it generates; small amounts won't compost as quickly as large - but properly turned - amounts)

- Generally speaking, don't put anything in your composter that you wouldn't want to eat (anything with pesticides, herbicides, noxious weeds, weed seeds, dairy or meat products, animal *** (chicken and rabbit droppings are okay)

- Clean out your fridge... anything organic (and not meat/dairy) can likely be put to use in your composter

And most importantly, be patient. Your first batch is going to take some time... you've got to put enough organics in your composter to get it started. After your first couple batches things will pick up, usually because you'll have taught yourself what you can compost and build up the mass quicker. :)

Let us know how it turns out!

- Joe

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Ardys

7/18/2010 2:06:12 PM

I purchased the compost tumbler and like everything about it except the fact that the latches are not staying latched.  When spinning (even slowly)  they get some slack in them and come unlatched, thus splilling all the contents on the ground. grrrrrr.  Now I use a bungee cord to hold it together.  Is there a solution here to get those latches to work well?  Thanks

Reply

joe

joe

7/19/2010 9:21:05 AM

@Ardys,

Hmmm... something isn't working right! The latches should securely hold the door closed, even while spinning.

Please contact Customer Support and see what they recommend: www.lifetime.com/.../contact-lifetime.aspx

- Joe

Reply

Joy Stockwell

7/29/2010 12:13:59 PM

How long does it take to make a batch of compost in the summer?

Thanks...

Reply

joe

joe

7/29/2010 12:32:10 PM

@Joy,

That's a very good -- but very subjective -- question.

The amount of time it takes to "cook" a batch of compost depends on several factors:

1: How big your mass is (more mass = higher temps = less cook time -- but TOO hot is not a good thing)

2: What the average daily temperatures are (for the same reason as above)

3: How much sun your composter gets (again, heat)

4: How much oxygen your mass gets (the more oxygen, the better. Turn a few times every day, but not more than that or you'll loose your heat.)

5: What your mass is made up of (different bio-matter decomposes at different rates)

6: How much moisture is in your mass (too wet = bad; too dry = slow)

7: Whether or not you keep adding to your mass or fill it all at once.

In short, given optimal conditions, spinning it daily, starting with a full mix of good ingredients, you could have a fresh batch of compost every 2-3 weeks.

If you don't have a full batch (trust me, it takes a long time to fill our composter), or don't spin it every day, it will take longer.

- Joe

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Joy Stockwell

7/29/2010 12:34:35 PM

Hi again:  I also need to know if you can put dry leaves in to compost?  We have a huge pile that has been decaying for about 3 years now and I turn and add material to it occasionally.  I think this would be ideal to get it started with some green grass or veggies and fruit peel.

Reply

joe

joe

7/29/2010 1:07:54 PM

@Joy,

Dry leaves are ~GREAT~ for composting!! Composting relies on having a good mix of ingredients to work efficiently, so don't but too many leaves in all at once -- mix them with other stuff: some dried grass, coffee grounds, "vegetarian table scraps", etc.

To help speed the process along, use your lawnmower to finely "chop" the leaves before you put them in your composter. This will decrease composting time SIGNIFICANTLY! :)

- Joe

Reply

karen einarson

3/25/2011 9:44:07 AM

Just bought a lifetime composter and put it together no problem. I have never composted before so should be fun. Cannot get the video to work, is there someplace I can download it. Thank You karen :)

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Leslie

3/26/2011 3:50:00 PM

Where can I get a replacement for the aeration bar inside the composter? Mine bent out of shape on the first turn.  Will you be replacing the old ones that have bent out of shape? I have made a few batches of compost. It very seldom gets finished as I keep adding more stuff. The compost I harvest is sifted thru a 1/4 inch screen, then the large parts are put back in to break down some more. I love the composter, though I do have a compost pile by the garden, too, as the composter can't keep up with lawn clippngs in summer. Please let me know about a replacement aeration bar. Thanks.

Reply

Joe

3/28/2011 9:38:17 AM

I've been using my Lifetime Composter for a few years now and haven't had a problem with the PVC areation bar in mine. A few other's in hotter climates reported having some frustration with their bars. Our Customer Care department can help you determine what the best course of action is to get you back up and running. http://www.lifetime.com/customer-care/

Regarding your comment about not being able to cook a whole batch, I'm in the same boat. To remedy that I pile my raw-materials next to my Lifetime Composter and allow a full batch of compost to cook. When it's done I pull it out, screen it just like you mentioned, then move the contents from my pile into my composter.

This season I'll be adding a second Lifetime Composter to my setup: one to cook the compose, the other to add compost to. This way I hope to avoid mixing new raw materials into my almost composted mix. Stay tuned to the blog and I'll let you know how that turns out!

- Joe

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Ravi

5/30/2011 4:32:34 PM

Bought a lifefime composter at Sam's Club recently. Have been adding grass clippings and vegetable waste (uncooked). For the first couple of times when I added grass clippings, I also added a shovel of soil from the yard. During the last couple of weeks, I noticed that water drips out of the composter when I rotate it. I rotate it once daily and is in an area where it gets sun most of the day (daytime high temps are in mid to upper 80s here). I see quite a few clumps (size of a golf ball to a tennis ball). From reading the previous posts, looks like these are a byproduct of adding freshly cut grass clippings without drying them first. To remedy the situation, I just added a bag of pine mulch. Do you guys think adding mulch was a good idea? Though I haven't added any worms to the composter, I see quite a few of them crawling inside. Where did they come from? And how to get rid of them? If mulch was a bad idea, the only other source of browns I can think of is shredded paper. I am not sure if that is going to be enough. I might visit a local starbucks to see if they could give me the coffee grounds. Thanks for help. Ravi

Reply

Joe

6/1/2011 2:43:56 PM

Hi Ravi,

Adding pine mulch isn't necessarily a problem, but some recommend against composting pine needles, bark, and wood. I'd suggest using those as mulches, rather than making compost out of them (they don't break down very fast, which makes them an ideal mulch, but not so much for compost).

Don't worry about it now though, just keep cooking your compost.

Next, water. Yes, you will have water drip out of your composter, especially if you put a lot of grass clippings (or other "wet" items in). It's not a problem, in fact, the composter was designed to get rid of excess water. This moisture is often called "compost tea" and is VERY potent stuff. You can collect it and dilute it 19:1 with water and use it as a liquid fertilizer for your plants and grass. If your composter is sitting on cement or wood you may want to put something beneath the composter to catch the drips (if you opt for something light-weight, weight it down with a brick to keep it from blowing away).

Grass will clump, but that's okay. You can mix your clippings in with "dry" or "brown" contents (hair, egg shells, shredded paper, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc.) to help "dry out" the mix, or simply keep composting and crumble the grass balls when you "harvest" your compost. They should be pretty dry at the end, if not, just break them up and toss them back into the (empty) composter for the next round.

Tossing in some soil is a good tip for getting the decomposition process started. It's got all kinds of beneficial microbes inside it that "eat" the raw materials and convert them into nutrient-rich compost. You shouldn't have to do this all the time, just a spade-full every time you start a new batch is plenty. More won't hurt anything.

Worms are really good at breaking down soil and raw materials into compost. There's a whole other kind of composting called vermiculture that uses just worms. Worms in our composters won't last long. They most likely hitched a ride in one of those shovels of soil you tossed in. Inside a properly cooked back of compost it will get very hot -- those poor little worms will cook and turn into compost themselves.

Hope this helps!

 - Joe the Green Guy

Reply

Gene

7/16/2011 5:47:13 PM

Hello. I used a Bearcat chipper/shredder to shred some of the leaves found in the six inch deep bed of dry leaves under a carrotwood tree, and also chipped some pruned branches.

These are supposed to be the brown part of the batch. I read/heard that granular fertilizer can be added to the batch to help decompose the twiglets, leaf stems while the green kitchen stuff does its own. I have a tub of 16-16-16 granular fertilizer.

If this can be added how much should I put in a full composter? One measuring cup or two or three? Thank you.

Reply

Joe

7/25/2011 4:15:38 PM

We don't recommend using any kind of chemical fertilizer while composting, but that doesn't mean you can't do it.

Generally speaking, fertilizer (organic or man-made) should only be used to correct a pH imbalance in your mix. Before you go adding anything man-made, grab a "representative sample" from your mix, chop it up (preferably in a blender with some pH-neutral water), and measure the acidity of your mix. From there you can add additional materials (more "stuff" to the mix, or man-made or organic suppliments) to raise or lower the acidity of your mix.

What is the ideal pH? That, just like adding fertilizer to your mix, is an advanced topic, and as such is something that is better answered in books about the topic (rather than in a reply that is limited to a few hundred words).

As such, I'd suggest checking out some books on more advanced composting techniques. Let us know what works out for you!

 - Joe the Green Guy

Reply

Lynda Kim

3/3/2012 4:47:41 PM

Can I put red worm in this lifetime composter? During the winter, they are wet and lots of fly, I am thinking of putting some worms in to speed it up.

Reply

Joe

3/23/2012 1:15:31 PM

Worm are excellent little composing factories, but they don't do well in particularly warm environments -- like inside your composter. When properly composting (with the right mix, favorable outside temperatures, and enough solar exposure) your compost will be hot enough not only to kill worms, but even many seeds that may have made it in as well.

Reply

Brita Freed

4/1/2012 6:01:48 PM

We were excited to put together the compost tumbler that we just bought. We were disappointed that there was no black grease in any of the packages in the box and are now trying to find out what to buy in order to finish with the assembly. Please advise

Reply

Joe

4/10/2012 7:23:30 PM

Brita,

Terribly sorry for your frustrations! My Lifetime Composter came with a clear packet of grease in a small, transparent packet and was easy to miss amongst the other items.

Our Customer Care department will be able to get everything worked out for you: http://www.lifetime.com/customer-care

Reply






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