Designing a Compost Bin

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I am a Product Designer at the University of Huddersfield, England. I am currently designing a rotating compost tumbler and was wondering if any of you have any advice for me when it comes to designing one. Any experiences, both bad or good will be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Ferg123


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Ferg123 wrote:

You don't say if it will be manual or powered, domestic or commercial.
It will be out in the weather and subject to all sorts of chemistry so materials will have to be durable. Also you need to have a volume of material sufficient for the pile to heat up, the weight will be considerable and tend to settle to one side making it hard to turn, which suggest a strong frame and barrel, which will add to the weight. Do a lot of testing, if it takes two strong men or a motor and gear-box to turn then forget it for domestic use.
Getting it to be durable, large enough and not too expensive to be affordable to the average gardener is a three-way compromise that will be very hard to solve if not impossible.
David
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The compost bin will be manual and for domestic use. I will be investigating the idea of making it gear driven to aid with the turning as I see this as one of the major issues. The other issue of having sufficient material in order to it to decompose effectively is one which I feel needs research and testing. The problem I have highlighted from all other 'compost tumblers' is that when you mix the bin you can have a certain amolunt of it which is ready to use on the garden and some of it can be only a few days old. This would mean the user needs to wait for the entire heap to be ready before they can use it. I am looking into making the bin sectional for this purpose. Thanks for your input David, good to get gardener's opinions after all you are the target market! Fearghal
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Ferg123

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Ferg123;951386 Wrote: > I am a Product Designer at the University of Huddersfield, England. I am > currently designing a rotating compost tumbler and was wondering if any > of you have any advice for me when it comes to designing one. Any > experiences, both bad or good will be much appreciated. Thanks!
Is it cheaper to make your own rather than just buy one?
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gennylee


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I find it a lot cheaper to make my own.
All I do is put the compost in a pile. A pile way too large to fit in any bin.
As for some kind of large rotating bin, no thanks. I'd spend all winter looking out the window seeing a large plastic monstrosity.
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Dan Espen

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Dan Espen wrote:

It's silly to design a new composter, there are already way too many on the market, most of which are J U N K.
Tumblers don't compost anyway, at best they ferment and stink. Organic materials MUST be in contact with the earth to compost. Tumblers are as gimmick, began for those who live on small lots and have neighbor problems... all composters attract critters, even tumblers.
My neighbor paid $800 for a gigantic plastic tumbler, compartmentised and gear driven, not only didn't it compost it began to fall apart after a few days... even half full organic materials are too heavy, plastic gears cracked first, then as the temperatures here began to drop below freezing the entire thing began to break apart. This POS: http://www.wagle.com/composters/compost-tumblers/constant-flow-compost-tumbler-series-50100-gallon
The next season my neighbor finally bought the composter I originally recommended, the one I've been using for some 15 years, works very well and is still good as new. I've recommended this one to several people, many have two and even three going. I like how when composting is completed I can just lift it off... I never have to stir or add any accelereator, not even water, and I don't bother with the clean out openings, I just lift the entire thing and move it over some to a new location. With each emptying it produces about 75 gallons of beautiful sweet smelling compost, fully composted. I don't recommend using the rodent screen. Over time the prices for these things have risen dramatically, 15 years ago I paid under $40 for mine, this is the only composter I've seen with a 25 year warranty, it's built like a tank: http://www.wagle.com/composters/compost-bins/earthsaver-compost-bin-85-gal
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wrote:

Situate it on the OTHER side of your barn or garden windbreaks. Problem solved! <g>
I have a couple of large piles (which include yet-to-be shredded tree branches), plus a 50 gallon drum tumbler (that isn't a mass produced type). The tumbler works quite effectively.
To the OP - while I've got plenty of upper body strength and have no troubles turning my compost bin when full, perhaps a footpedal mechanism (think treadle sewing machine) would be good - it may be easier for some people to tromp their weight down on a pedal plate, so long as it's situated such that they can get to it
If the composter is able to be emptied at something above ground level, it'd be possible to dump the contents into a wheelbarrow to move it to where it might be used - so perhaps plan for the height of the chute (and access to same) to accomodate some standard sizes of wheelbarrows. Alternately, consider something which you can dump easily (and without making a mess) into a 5 gallon bucket (just how full would be up to the discretion of the gardener)..
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Barn?
Here in the NJ suburbs I'd guess most people can see every inch of their yard from the house. Of course if you're already staring at a shed then you have a place behind it to put more man made clutter.
I think Brooklyn has a good point about the compost being in contact with the ground. My pile is loaded with worms. I don't see how that could happen with a tumbler above the ground. The worms won't get in in the first place and when they do, no matter how deep they burrow, it's going to still be cold.
The bins Brooklyn recommends are a step in the right direction, but I question the need to actually enclose the compost. The web site mentions keeping kids out. Where's the fun in that?
Anyway, I'd need about a dozen of them.
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wrote:

If worms are added they won't live long if they can't return to the earth at will... and it's the microscopic organisms that do the composting... what worms do is supply microrganisms in their castings.

Being of a dark color and enclosed keeps temperature inside the compost pile higher longer into night and cold seasons, actually doubles the rate of composting.

Most folks who compost larger volumes maintain a pre-compost pile where organic material is chopped up finely, dried, and decayed so it will take up far less volume in the composter. Composting is nothing more than accelerated topsoil production. It takes a hundred years to produce one inch of top soil on a forest floor. When composting is managed correctly one of those composters can accomodate a huge volume of organic material.
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I find it a lot cheaper to make my own.
All I do is put the compost in a pile. A pile way too large to fit in any bin.
As for some kind of large rotating bin, no thanks. I'd spend all winter looking out the window seeing a large plastic monstrosity.
--
Dan Espen

As a product designer, my aim is to design a product which overcomes
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Discussed recently here. Don't put meat in the compost. I'm less convinced about eggshells.

Not true. (Unless you're putting meat in the compost.)

Absolutely. I'm 66 and staying young turning a really massive pile by hand. Actually, I dig and sift it through a screen. Once a year. Anything not broken down yet goes back in the pile.

There are no odors (IMO) but I don't think a bin will keep the odors in. I wouldn't expect a bin to be airtight.

I think color might help, but not green. At least in my case, in the summer the compost is fully hidden by the trees. It's in the winter that I see it. I've put a few holly seedlings in the yard with the idea of hiding the pile even in the winter. I'd want any bin to be black or brown.

Even negative input, I hope.
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Dan Espen

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***This is a general reply, not just to Dan, about why I just quit composting. Excuse detailed post.
Last year or so, some neighbors and I bought a bin sold for $40 (discounted) by the City - this is So. Calif Coastal. It consisted of four square plastic components that fit into each other vertically (and could be taken apart individually). The idea was to fill it up, water properly, etc. and when deemed appropriate, reverse the whole thing by removing the top component, placing it elsewhere, pitchforking its content into the top one which is now the bottom one, et. seq. You would then arrive at the content of the former bottom square, which would in theory be ready-to-use compost. (There must be an easier way to describe this?)
I did it once or twice, but found it a pain; not great results. Also, my gardener kept putting in too much stuff, causing the composter to bulge at the seams.
Now the City has announced that food waste may be added to the yard waste bins. Result should be will be that their next quarterly free distribution of (lovely, fine-textured compost) will be even richer because of the food waste.
So I have dismantled the bin and saved the little that looks something like compost. I'll clean it out, put on Craigs List, see who bites.
Looking back over this and the previous composter, I probably should have just made a pile at the back of the garden and turned periodically w/pitchfork.
Anybody else think their municipality would set up such a program?
HB
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Ours collects branches twice a year but only collects yard waste that has been placed in large paper bags that you must purchase.
How I'm supposed to fill about 40 of these large bags per year is a mystery. I'd need some kind of mulcher and a lot of time.
Most of my neighbors use yard services.
I just create a big pile and late in August run it through a framed screen. It ends up on the lawn or in a flower bed. (Where I found the leaves in the first place.)
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Dan Espen

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wrote:

I mostly compost household waste in my composter. Most of my yard waste gets dumped in the woods. I don't have grass clippings because I use mulching blades.
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On Feb 21, 6:40pm, Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote:

Mmmm....maybe I should ask the gardener to do the same -- if he *has* mulching blades. I can see that in the "winter" because grass doesn't grow quite as fast, but in the summer? Wouldn't it create a thick blanket of mulched grass? Remember, this is a mild "Mediterranean" climate.
TIA
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Higgs Boson wrote:

I mow ten acres of lawn, no way can I collect the clippings. Mulching blades chop grass blades into such tiny bits that on the first cut parts they shrivel and disappear before I finish the last parts. By the time I clean up and have the mowers put away there are no clippings to be seen. I don't bother raking leaves, I mow them and let the wind sweep them away. Downed trees, branches, and prunings get piled in the woods for critter homes. My composter is for household vegetation and for whatever comes from my veggie garden. I don't have a gardner, I'm it. If you have a gardener doing your mowing he should be using mulching blades or sucking up the clippings and taking them away, if not then you don't need a gardner. If after your gardner leaves you have to rake up debris then you are being ripped off. People who end up with lots of clippings on their lawn it's because they mow at too great a speed. You really ought to consider mowing your own lawn.
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On Feb 22, 6:16am, Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote:

Sounds like you live in a really kewl rural area - woods! Wow!
As I said earlier, gardener had been putting grass clippings in the composter until I stopped him doing it every week, but by then, it was bulging.
if not then you don't need a gardner. If after your gardner leaves you have to rake up debris then you are being

No, I don't have to rake up debris. Gardener sweeps and blows. Blowing is considered a capital offense by the City, so he has to be very careful and blow at low revs in order not to get busted. There are nuisance gardeners who blow loud and long, but he is not that kind.
People who end up with lots of clippings on their lawn it's because they mow at too great a speed. You really ought to consider mowing your own lawn.
Actually, I have considered it from time to time. if I did, it would be with an old push mower, as I don't have anywhere near 10 acres; just a front & back lawn. Part of the back is consumed by the veggie garden.
I keep the gardener because on alternate weekends he does a heavy job that I don't have time, ability, or patience to do. All of his work is class A.
Friday I will ask him about the mulching blade.
HB
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On Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:33:23 -0800 (PST), Higgs Boson

Usually grounds keepers in surburbia bag the clippings and take them away. When I lived on a small lot in surburbia I had a gardener come once a week to mow, edge, and blow... put down chems regularly, etc. Was only $25/wk so it hardly payed to own a mower. But ten years ago I retired to my roots and live very rural, I like tending to the grounds, and keeps me active. Quite a few people I worked with retired to a condo where they mostly looked out a window, they didn't last long. I don't work hard but I don't sleep till noon and lounge about all day. My favorite part of retirement is not wearing a watch... I only need to know day time and night time. My cats are my alarm clock, 6 AM every morning. This quiet life is not for everyone but I love it.
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On Feb 22, 3:26pm, Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote:

Move over, I'll be right there. Is my cat welcome too?
HB
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In article

Lol. I can just hear Shelly now.
--

Billy

E Pluribus Unum
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