If you are around gardening people for very long, or reading books about gardening or searching out the best gardening websites, it won’t be long before you hear that magical word — compost. In simple terms, compost is the way nature recycles trash, returning as much organic matter to the soil, as possible. It’s a [...]
If you are around gardening people for very long, or reading books about gardening or searching out the best gardening websites, it won’t be long before you hear that magical word — compost. In simple terms, compost is the way nature recycles trash, returning as much organic matter to the soil, as possible. It’s a great source of nutrients for your plants, with a high humus content (decomposed organic matter) and it’s an excellent soil conditioner. It helps increase your plants’ disease-resistance and will even help to combat any harmful organisms that may be present in your soil. It’s like super-food or vitamins, for your garden. Compost is really just homemade nutrient-rich dirt. It will have a pleasant, earthy smell and will be a uniform brown or black color with a crumbly, moist texture.
Where do you get compost? You make it! Well, okay, you COULD technically go to your local WalMart or nursery and spend way too much on plastic bags filled with compost, but you won’t know what’s in it and you’ll spend lots of money that you don’t actually need to. There are several excellent reasons to make your own compost, at home:
- Cold, hard, cash – If you’re serious about gardening and being successful enough to produce enough food to start cutting back on your grocery budget, you NEED compost for your garden — every year — forever and ever. Amen. To get good, organic compost is terribly pricey, if you’re buying it bag by bag. Make your own for free!
- You know what’s in it – Compost needs to be a balanced mix of several types of household and garden/yard waste to be the most nutritious for your soil. There is a correct “recipe” and making your own, means you know that the recipe is right. Just like we want to know what’s in the food we feed our families, it’s important to know what’s in the soil where that food is grown.
- It’s environmentally responsible. Recycling newspaper and cardboard, kitchen scraps and lawn and garden waste, instead of shipping them off to a landfill, makes good ecological sense, plus it rebuilds healthy nutrients into depleted soil.
- It will help you maximize your garden yields. The most nutritious soil means stronger, healthier plants and better production for you.
So, how do you make compost? People employ all different methods for “cooking” their own compost, at home. Some are more labor intensive and messy than others. Living in town, it was essential to me that I used a method that minimized odor, did not attract rodents (I have a squirrel nemesis that I will have to tell you about, another time.) or wildlife and did not create an eyesore for my neighbors. I wanted to be able to create the richest compost possible, in the shortest amount of time and I didn’t want to have to invest lots of time turning a huge pile of waste, by hand, all summer. My answer was the Mantis ComposT-Twin Dual Chamber Composter! It meets all my criteria, allows me to continue filling one side, while the other is “cooking”, was easy to assemble and came with detailed instructions to show me the perfect recipe (We’ll go over it, in a bit.) for making compost at home. I love it — no guesswork and fast and easy to get started!
What were the features that made me sure this was the composter for our family?
- Holds almost 25 cubic feet of raw material
- Will hold almost 10 bushels in each composting bin
- Aerator vents on each door allow oxygen into the composter
- Vented end caps assure even air flow and proper drainage of excess moisture
- Interior “fins” help to mix material as drum is rotated.
- You’ll have higher quality composter, faster
- Composting bin contents are fully enclosed; keeps out rodents, pets, and other wildlife
- 2 latches on each door ensure contents stay in the chamber when rotating the composter
- No back-breaking work to mix and aerate pile – just turn the gear-driven handle
- Sturdy, tubular frame sits 32″ off the ground for easy loading and unloading
- Easily unload finished compost directly into a wheelbarrow or garden cart
- I can use waste that would normally be sent to the landfill, to create a product that is useful to my family and that would otherwise have cost me money. That makes it a great long-term, budget-stretcher.
Everything for my ComposT-Twin arrived in 3 big boxes. We still had snow on the ground and cold, cold weather when it was delivered, so we stored it in the garage for about three weeks.
Tuesday afternoon, David and I unpacked the pieces and assembled this wonderful gardening tool! I had to promise not to have him in any of the pictures, since he had just gotten home from work, and was grease from head to toe, but I still got some good instructional shots, I think. Putting this together is definitely a two-person job — not because it’s difficult, but because you will need more than two hands, on occasion. The best part about assembling it was that the instructions were clear and concise — and loaded with pictures. Some of the best I’ve seen on ANY assembly project, and believe me, I’ve seen a LOT of assembly projects! lol
You start out by building the support frame. I have to tell you that this went together so easily, we got a little full of ourselves, thinking we were some sort of composter assembly geniuses. Don’t worry. We fell off that pedestal, in a matter of minutes.
The lower supports are shaped like a big rectangular “U”. They are held together with long-straight spacer’s on either side, so the first step is to attach the spacers to the lower supports. This is where multiple hands come in – well, uuummm… – handy. While you hold the lower supports nice and straight, let your helper bolt the spacers to the pre-drilled holes in the supports.
As, you complete this step, for both sides of the supports, it’s important to note that each support piece has different shaped ends at the top of the “U”. One end has been compressed in to be thinner, so another piece can be slid over it. Those narrowed ends need to be diagonally opposite, as you assemble the support frame. That’s important, because when you place the upper support pieces on top, their wide ends will slide over the narrow ends on the bottom and the narrow ends will slide into the wide ends.
The next step is simple. Just slide the upper support pieces into place on the ends of the lower support pieces. Then, in the same way as for the bottom, bolt the spacers into the upper supports.
At this point, the instructions had us assemble the hand crank and then set it aside. This simply involved sliding the hand grip onto the crank and then tapping a plastic cap onto the end of the crank tube.
There are two axle rods, that slide through the axle rod guides (those loops) on the upper support pieces. Before sliding them through, slip a gear, then a center support wheel and then another gear onto each axle rod. Make sure the gears face the correct direction. Then, you can slide each end of the axle rods into place, through the axle rod guides.
After that, choose the corner you would like the handle to be on and put the end of the handle assembly inside the axle rod at the corner. Line up the holes in the axle rod and the handle and drive a spring pin through it. Then you will drive a spring pin through the holes in each of the three remaining corners of the frame. These line up with the gear pin openings in the gears, so you can slide the gears right over the pins. That’s it! The support frame is complete!
So, we were all confident and sure of ourselves, now, that we had put the support frame together so quickly and easily. We jumped right in and laid out the four galvanized steel panels for each side of the tumbler barrel. Looking good! We’re on a roll!
We grabbed the first end cap and carefully, following the very detailed instructions for proper placement, we matched the first rib of the panels to the arrow in the end cap and slid the panels into the groove around the inside edge of the end cap. We overlapped the last joint, aligned the slots and fastened the joint using the enclosed shoulder bolts and lock nuts. The slots for the bolts are long enough to allow the bolts to slide back and forth and spin freely, so the tumbler walls can expand and contract as the temperature inside the tumbler changes. Beautiful! It was easy and went together PERFECTLY!
We were so proud of ourselves! That went together in a snap! Now, on to the next step. “Wait…”-silence-…”doesn’t this little round screen go over the vent hole in that endcap?” -silence- “Yes. It went on before we attached the panels to the end cap.” -silence- “No, it didn’t. It’s right here.” -silence- … -not so much silence- … Several minutes of unnatural contortions and unflattering conversation later, we managed to prop the completed tumbler up a little, with one of us reaching underneath and blindly inserting the bolt, while the other stretched their arm deep into the tumbler and pushed the screen into place, twisting the nut onto the bolt. Oy! Word to the wise — As my eighth-grade science teacher used to say, “When all else fails, read the directions.” Put the vent screens in place, BEFORE inserting the tumbler panels into the endcap.
We assembled the second tumbler chamber in the same way, except that we DID attach the screen at the appropriate time and then we were able to attach the door latches. Once the latches were installed on both sides, we were able to quickly complete the assembly of the composter tumbler and we set it up on the support frame.
Before, attaching the doors to the composter, we needed to attach a breather cap and screen to each one. Then it was as simple as fitting the door hooks through the slots in the tumbler, closing them and locking the latches into place. These doors are designed to be simple to remove, so that you can attach an optional accessory screen in their place, to sift the compost as you spin the tumbler to dump compost into your wheelbarrow. What an ingenious idea!
David and our teenaged son moved the ComposT-Twin Dual Chamber Composter, to the backyard for me. I am so incredibly excited!
There’s still plenty of time for you to get going on your own compost, this season. You can order a ComposT-Twin from Mantis and get started, right away. It will come with free Compost Activator and a composting guide. The other thing I love about Mantis is that they are so confident in the quality of the products they sell, that they offer a full refund, up to one year from your purchase! And if it fits your budget better to space out the cost over a few months, they even have options to break it up into four payments. When I think of how much we will save on buying potting soil, compost and garden dirt, over the years, I’m convinced this investment is one that will pay for itself in a short time. Plus, the benefits to our environment and to our family’s healthy food supply are priceless. I couldn’t be more excited!
As I took pictures of our finished compost tumbler, in the backyard, I realized I have an abundance of material to start our first batch! Oy! Maybe not cleaning up the backyard and garden, last fall, is going to pay off. lol I’m going to do an entire post on starting our first batch of compost, show you the recipe, tips, and techniques to keep in mind and share even more about this awesome ComposT-Twin, but for now, I know you’re as anxious for this giveaway as I am. So, let’s get it going!
To enter, just visit the Mantis website and find a product you’d love to try or something that you never knew about composting. You choose. Then leave a comment on this post telling me the name of the product you’d like to try or the new composting information that you learned. Click the DO IT button in the rafflecopter form, then hit Enter and that’s it! You’re entered AND you’ll unlock several additional optional entry possibilities. Check the Terms and Conditions, below, for complete details, but as usual, the giveaway is open to anyone residing in the U.S. who is at least 18 years old. Deadline to enter is midnight, April 8, 2012. Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a ComposT-Twin Dual chamber composter in order to test it and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.
The last remnants of snow have dripped from the gutters and there is only a woolen scarf and hat resting on the ground, where a little over a week ago, a robust snowman stood guard over our front yard. While temperatures are certainly warming, it really is still winter here in southeast Nebraska, and it [...]
The last remnants of snow have dripped from the gutters and there is only a woolen scarf and hat resting on the ground, where a little over a week ago, a robust snowman stood guard over our front yard. While temperatures are certainly warming, it really is still winter here in southeast Nebraska, and it will be for some time, still. It will be weeks past Easter, before we can confidently shrug off the dangers of snow and frost and proclaim the official return of spring to our gardens. Accepting that reality does not ward off the daydreams of what’s to come, however. After all, the seed catalogs have arrived, and it’s time to line the windowsills with tender seedlings in anticipation of spring planting. We always seem to have one week in January or February where the weather mocks us with gorgeous sunny days and seventy degree temperatures, inspiring an intense desire to turn the soil and plant vegetables and flowers, even though it will be weeks before it it’s safe to do so. This year is no different and I fight the same inclinations as in other years.
I’m excited to be making preparations and plans, though, and look forward with great anticipation to seeing the plans become reality as we redesign, repurpose and continue to turn our backyard into a place where we can enjoy beauty and bounty. In addition to the mountain of seed catalogs, I have pinned so many great gardening plans, tips and information on Pinterest, this year. My goal is to incorporate many of them into our outdoor living space, as time and finances permit. I will be working with several of my favorite companies to help make my garden and outdoor spaces as successful and beautiful as they can be and I’ll be sharing my favorite products with you, as I work to achieve it. There will be reviews, tutorials, ideas and instructions, along with some extraordinary giveaways to help you make the most of your gardens and outdoor living spaces!
It’s even more important, these days, to do all we can to stretch the grocery budget and get the greatest nutrition and quality for the dollars we do spend. A vegetable garden is the best way I know to do that and be assured of exactly where your food has come from. Initially, you will have to spend some money to get started gardening, but averaged over the years of healthy delicious produce you will gain, your annual costs will become slight and out of pocket expenses will be less each year. You can start simple or elaborate, as your budget allows, and each year simply add and expand your knowledgebase, as well as your garden and grocery savings. There is something so satisfying about starting with a seed in the dirt and watching the plant grow, flourish and then produce an abundance of veggies for your family. I’m anxious to get started and I hope you’ll join me, whether you have a small patio or balcony garden, or a large backyard space. There will be something for everyone and I can’t wait to see all that you grow!
Here’s a sneak peek at one of the newest additions to our gardening tools–a Mantis ComposT-Twin dual chamber composter!
Spending money for rich garden soil and fertilizers adds up over time and if you invest the same money in an excellent composting system, garden waste, kitchen waste, fireplace ashes, newspaper and more household items than you may realize, that normally end up in your garbage, can be recycled to create your own nutrient-dense soil for vegetable and flower gardens. It’s better for the environment, cuts down on your waste, eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers and saves money when you don’t have to purchase soil or soil enhancers to keep your plants strong and healthy. There are so many fantastic and unique features about this compost tumbler. I’m anxious to share all of them with you, show you how easy it was for us to assemble and how we started our first batch of compost. Plus, I have an exciting secret! Mantis is sponsoring a giveaway, in which one lucky Busy-at-Home gardening reader will win a ComposT-Twin Dual Chamber Composter of their own. Keep checking back, next week, so you can enter this fabulous giveaway, that will kick off our gardening series for 2012!
Do you compost, now? Do you want to learn more about it? What are your plans for a garden, this summer? Do you have a big space or will you garden in a few pots on the deck? What are your favorite things to grow? What do you want to learn more about growing? I can’t wait to hear all your plans and kick off our new series with this exciting review and giveaway!
Making the most of what we already have, stretching our dollars and making responsible choices for our environment, when we can, are ideals and qualities that all of us want to instill in our children and practice in our own homes. Full Circle is a company I have been recently introduced to that makes it [...]
Making the most of what we already have, stretching our dollars and making responsible choices for our environment, when we can, are ideals and qualities that all of us want to instill in our children and practice in our own homes. Full Circle is a company I have been recently introduced to that makes it a little easier for us to achieve some of our reduce, reuse and recycle goals for 2012. They’re on a mission to offer affordable tools to help out around our kitchens, and throughout our homes, that are functional, attractive and made from sustainable and renewable resources. The timing for me to review their Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector couldn’t be better, as I sit to sketch out and make plans for our family’s 2012 garden. I actually reviewed the Compost Collector and the Suds Up Dish Brush and I’m excited to share what I learned about both, as well as offer an opportunity for one Busy-at-Home reader to win one of each for their own kitchens! You’re going to love them!
We are about to have an AWESOME compost bin completed and set up in our back yard, near our garden, where it will get tons of use. I want to be very faithful about being sure we don’t just toss away any of our kitchen scraps, wasting what can become important ingredients in creating rich, nutritious soil to grow our food in, so I need some way of collecting them, for a time, instead of walking to the compost bin every time I peel a carrot or potatoes. The problem is, I don’t want my kitchen to smell like I’m collecting garbage and I don’t want to attract bugs. Until now, I hadn’t really seen anything that seemed like it would be effective. I have to tell you the the Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector is the answer to my problem. I didn’t expect it, at the onset of this review, but it will probably go down as one of my favorite new kitchen products of 2012! I have been testing it for about one month. It sits on my kitchen counter, next to the sink and no one notices it. Beautiful! I have yet to empty it, in that whole month’s time. There is no smell and nary a critter, flying or crawling about. To say I am pleased is an understatement.
In the month’s time I have been using it, I have continuously added new material to the top of what is already in the Collector. As it breaks down, the level lowers and there is room to add more to the top. There isn’t any “soil” in the bottom of the bin, because this system just doesn’t work that quickly, but it is breaking down our compostable food waste, right in the kitchen, with no smell, no mess and no bugs. I can easily transfer it to our larger compost bin, by removing the contents in their handy-dandy fully biodegredable bag and carrying it outside to the larger bin. I could do that every day or apparently once a month, whatever is most convenient. For our large family, with the heavy amounts of cooking that happen in our kitchen, it will likely be more often, so nothing nutritious for our soil is wasted, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to really wait it out and see the results of allowing the Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector to sit long-term without being emptied.
So, how does it work? The Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector is designed with a special ventilation system that allows the food to dry out as it breaks down. This slows the decomposition process, but it also makes it cleaner. Without the moisture found in pails or other compost collection bins for your kitchen, you eliminate a lot of the bacteria, mold and other decomposition processes that create that “garbage-y odor”. You also don’t attract bugs. Fantastic!
The Compost Collector was simple to set up. When it arrived, I pulled it out of the box and had it up and active on the counter in minutes. It comes with 5 biodegradable collection bags. All I had to do was lift the metal ring, stretch the bag over the top of the plastic top and snap the metal ring back into place. Very easy!
The Suds Up Dish Brush is very cool, too. It’s the first time I’ve had a dish brush that I can fill with soap, but actually stands up on the counter. No oozing or leaking soap mess! I love that! The stand-up handle is made from bamboo and the brush head can be removed and replaced rather than just throwing away the whole brush. Genius! Waste not, want not. The all natural, recycled bristles absorb soap and provide tough scrubbing action, so this is a very effective tool for stubborn pots and pans. It’s easy to dispense more soap with the handy push-button in the center of the brush handle.
You can order both these products and more at the Full Circle section at Alice.com or pick them up in local shops near you. Many Bed Bath and Beyond stores are carrying Full Circle products. To check and see what stores in your area carry them, click here. And one lucky Busy-at-Home reader will win their own kitchen compost collector and dish brush!
To enter the giveaway, visit Full Circle and see which of their products would be a good fit in your own home. Leave a comment below, telling me which is your favorite. Then hit the DO IT button, then Enter and unlock the other optional entries that can increase the number of times your name is in the random drawing. That’s it! Super simple!
I received a Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector and a Suds Up Dish Brush in order to test them in my own kitchen and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was recieved and a positive review was not required. The views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience.