Plastic 55 gallon drum Tumbler?????

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I want to make some compost tumblers with plastic 55 gallon drums. What should I put inside the barrel to help mix the compost when it turns so it doesn't just slide around?

Happy Gardening


Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Can you affix some crossed bars in there? My tumbler didn't have anything to break up the action, and I just put a long stick in there, and that didn't work well but it helped a little. But anything that the contents will hit will help.

Make sure it can get air! And good luck. My little tumbler is now a soil mixer and the compost is all in the compost pile.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)


I have a compost bin and it is composting now at 150 degrees.
I thought the barrels made the composting job easier is why i was goin to try them out.
Do the barrel tumblers not work as good as bins?

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I prefer piles on the ground, but if yours is already at 150 degrees, it is working. It's all according to what works for you. Mine compost tumbler never worked. My piles on the ground do. There is a little gadget you can buy that you put in your compost, but when you try to pull it out, it opens up and stirs up your compost. You could use that instead of turning, I guess.

Hughesville, MO(Zone 5a)

I let the chickens turn the compost for me. If you can have chickens they do a lot of the work for you.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Thats nice advice leaflady. I have no chickens but wish I did. Folks around here have a problem keeping chickens due to racoons and what have ya. I could make a coup with wire roof---but is it a waste of time in the end.

Newtown, PA(Zone 6b)

I have a commercial compost tumbler but it never worked as good as bins. I think because the bins allow ground organisms, especially worms, to help mix and decompose the organic matter. Unless you get the exact correct mix of green and brown, the matter just sits and dries out in the tumbler.

I think in three years I have produced maybe two small piles of compost.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I dont recon I will be using tumblers.

My current compost bin is half composted---the composting process is about to slow down cause it is getting cold out. It has only been composting 2 weeks. Doing the quick method---the hard labor compost bin. Turn Turn Turn. It only takes me 30 min to turn the pile every 3-4 days. I have to add water as I turn it every time. The water helps heat it up nicely.(150*---160*)

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I think the best thing to do with compost tumblers is to tumble to mush and dump on the ground and let finish, then place back in tumbler to tumble to fine compost. They do break up fiber well when turning. The only problem is they do not compost well.

Mchenry, IL(Zone 5a)

i have a plastic composter. its probably about 55 gallons. it sits on a metal tripod with a rod that goes through the center that allows you to turn it. i am rather small and when its full i can hardly turn it over. i think i hate it.. i got it second hand from my brother,, he said he didnt like it either. i thought; it was free and id give it a try. i get maybe a couple shovels of compost a year. i am guessing the warmer climates do better with composting in general. i dont have many leaves,, mostly kitchen scraps and plant trimmings. last year when i decided i wanted to take out more grass and make another flower bed i cut out the sod then dumped some cheap topsoil on the spot. then i burried all my kitchen scraps and got some leaves from one of my neighbors. i threw those in there too. i was able to bury my scraps up untill december when it was too frozen. i looked at the dirt the other day and it looks great! lots of worms and nice soil. ready for the $200.00 worth of plants i bought from jungs..

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

To answer the original question, you can add rocks to it if you think they won't split or crack your plastic.

If you take a giant down comforter to the coin op laundromat (because it's too big for your household washing machine) they give you 5 tennis balls to put in with it in the dryer. This makes it so it doesn't just go around the dryer drum in one big heap. I think rocks or bricks in the tumbler would work the same way.


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

>>worth of plants i bought from jungs


have you ordered from Jungs before? I got their magazine this winter -- i didn't order anything, but plan to visit the Madison location this spring/summer when i'm up there.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I don't think my compost pile will EVER heat to those temps. Please advise. Take a look.

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Gymgirl, what are its dimensions?

And believe me, it WILL compost. It might take a lot longer, but it will compost.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Actually Brig,
It's just a narrow stip between the side of the BIG doghouse and that board on the left. The wooden fence is directly north and the south side is open for me to access it. It's built on a patch of dirt that used to be where the dog pen was.

I need to put some red worms in it. I believe all that's there now are the earthworms and a coupla white grubs.

Anybody know where to buy redworms in Houston, let me know, please.


Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Google "worm man" -- he'll send you a pound fairly cheaply, and he loves his worms. You won't want them outside in the summer, though -- gets too hot. The earthworms still love it, though. Make sure you keep it moist. (Not a problem in Houston usually!)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

WHERE do I put them in the summertime? My DDH (and that first "D" isn't dear...) is barely letting ME live inside the house!!! It's really shady over in that corner...

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Hmmm... does your garage stay cool? I keep them in the pantry in the summer, but then I relieved myself of my own DDH so no one has anything to say about it but me. They don't like it to get much above the 70s. But if it's cool and airy in that area, they might just burrow down for the summer. The ones I put in my compost last fall (I keep them in the pantry in the summer only) are still thriving, and I don't think I'll move them until I it doesn't get below 75 at night. I'm sure some will stay in the ground over the summer. This is my first year to do it, so I won't be able to tell for sure until this autumn. I'd say if it's airy and cool, try it and see if they make it. Worm man's website will have more info.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Bridg,
Worm Man's website is terribly confusing. I'm still trying to see what a "red" worm looks like....

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

It's just redder and small than an earthworm.

Indian Harbour Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

Check out the vermiculture thread on this forum. You'll find a lot of good advice on the red wigglers for composting.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

My little compost bin is about 3.5 ft. long by about 2.5 ft. wide. Maybe??? It has a depth of about 3 ft. at the highest point, as it slopes forward.

But my DH pile out back is about 4 ft. wide x 6 ft. long, with a depth of about 3 ft.

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

3' each way is generally a good size. Yours sounds fine.

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