Compost has turned to lumps!

Eagle, MI(Zone 5a)

I am new to composting and to Dave's Garden. I've looked through the composing forum, but haven't found anything that refers to my situation. I have a Compost Tumbler, which I filled over the winter months with kitchen waste, leaves and some shredded paper. About 2 weeks ago, I decided it was time to "cook", so I added some coffee grounds and put the tumbler in a sunny location, turning regularly as directed. The process seems to be working as the volume has reduced by more than half, but now I have a tumbler full of golf ball sized lumps. Is this usual? If not, does anyone have any ideas about why this is happening and how to correct it? Thanks for any info you can provide.

Porterfield, WI(Zone 4b)

I have two home-made compost tumblers and I have had a similar experience. I will be watching for any advice also! Legit

auckland, New Zealand

A few years ago I made about 4 tumblers and a couple went the "golf ball"way
I wasn't a member of Dave's then so didn't get advice
I'd be interested to find out why


Buffalo, NY(Zone 5a)

Hi my name is John and have a tumbler issue too, its been going on since last August. I've been wacking the little balls with a claw and busting them up that way, seems too work, not a huge problem. Is it just the natural rolling up of the material in a tumbler? Is it too much in a tumbler at once that causes the material to slide instead of slam back and forth?

Eagle, MI(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the info, John (I love your screen name!) I'll try busting up the little devils and see what happens. I've also wondered if it had to do with tumbling instead of turning. Could it be too much moisture?

Porterfield, WI(Zone 4b)

If am sure glad to hear others have had the same problem, I thought I had just messed up the "formula" but good! It would be interesting to hear from folks who have commercial ones and see if ours are lacking something! Legit

Buffalo, NY(Zone 5a)

Lily, someone called me Dynamic once, referring to my work, made me think of Zuckermans famous pig and hence the name. After lying awake for several hours and going over the tumbling action in my head, its like an avalanche, the different components latach to one another and roll/slide into formation. It could be too wet, it could just be a small difference of moisture. A friend has the big Compostumbler advertised on the Weather Channel, with the 2 bins in one, she too gets the snowball effect.

Westerville, OH(Zone 6a)

Owners of the "Compost Tumbler" brand composters: Has anyone contacted the manufacturer to see if they know what the problem is? If yes, what is their answer?

Eagle, MI(Zone 5a)

Yardenman -- that was a great idea, so I sent some e-mail and found the following in their troubleshooting guide:

There are balls forming in my drum

Balls form as a result of using grass in your ComposTumbler. If the appearance of the finished product is not important to you, you can leave the balls in the drum. They will not affect the final product. Otherwise, you can break any balls larger than 1 inch diameter apart.

This message was edited Apr 25, 2005 8:57 AM

Sandy Hook, CT(Zone 6a)

hmm, that's interesting. I have 2 tumblers and since the lawn guy uses a mulching mower we never put any grass in them but always get lumps. I thought it was because of where I had them placed, full 2pm-evening sun, or something. Nice to see I'm not the only one....I usually break them up but my compost has never gotten to that loose crumbly look I've seen on TV. Then again, my main brown component has been shredded paper since we've got no trees, I've often wondered if that was a cause as well.

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