We bought this Tumbleweed Composter recently from a new local store downtown called Nest Organics. Nest Organics is a cozy little family-owned boutique specializing in organic products for the family and home. Among many other items, they offer beds, baby clothes and composting supplies. The family who owns it is very nice, and we were glad to be able to support them with their new store.
I was excited by this composter, because I read that you can create compost in as little as three weeks. Traditional compost piles take about 6 months to produce usable soil. Although the unit costs $200, if I can produce two $10 bags of compost every month, it will pay itself off soon enough, and we will have less garbage to throw out! Also, you're not a "real" gardener until you make your own compost! You may think $10 per bag is expensive for compost, but that is the going rate around Asheville, unless you purchase the junky bags of compost from Lowe's. I do not advise Lowe's compost though, as I have found it to be full of sticks and mold. Real compost is dark, soft, rich and loamy.
I filled the unit completely for the first time last weekend. I have been tumbling it every couple days, and I am seeing the vegetation already starting to break down. No, it doesn't smell bad, in case you are wondering.
I did have a bit of a scare last weekend when the composter collapsed as I was tumbling it. It turns out the nut that attaches the barrel to the stand wasn't screwed in tightly, as Ian put it together with just his bare hands. Hopefully it doesn't collapse again!
My Mother-in-law and I went this weekend to get some FREE PLANTS from a very sweet lady who was dividing up her overcrowded garden. This lady had the biggest compost heap I have ever seen! Her soil was gorgeous, as she has been enriching it for years with compost. I told her I recently bought a composter unit, and she rather scoffed at me for paying for a contraption when I could make myself a giant compost heap at home. I explained to her that giant compost heaps are not for people with dogs or people who live in a neighborhood on .39 acres! I seriously doubt my neighbors would appreciate a 20' x 20' compost heap brewing all Summer long!
There are a number of different composting bins for sale at hardware stores and on-line. You can also just pile up vegetation and garden scraps in a heap and turn it with a fork every now and then. Compost can be used to enrich existing soil and makes an excellent mulch, as it does not rob the soil of nutrients as it breaks down like traditional bark mulches do. I am going to use my compost to enrich the vegetable garden next year. We spent about $100 on peat this past Spring, and it will be nice not to have to lug 8 bags of peat from the car to the garden next Spring!