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.