Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homemade Compost Tumbler

I wrestled with my five citrus trees last weekend. I have the scrapes to show for it, too! All together we have five citrus trees: a grapefruit, two tangerines and two oranges. I don't think they've been cared for in years, because I had a lot of trimming to do. It wasn't the right time to prune citrus- usually right after it fruits, in late winter is best- but when I get an idea to do something, I do it NOW.

You can see we have some fruit, but I am really uncertain of the quality. For quality citrus, you need quality fertilizer, and they are definitely not getting any of that! So, after picking the last thorn out of my skin I had an idea: why not make my own fertilizer?

We have lived on our 9 acres a very short while, so there is still a lot to clean up after the last owners abandoned it. In one of the out-buildings, I found a few 55 gallon drums that looked promising...

After finding a barrel that was empty and did not have any traces of anything potentially toxic, I got my husband's tools and went to work. First thing I did was to drill 1/2" holes all over it- the compost materials will need plenty of oxygen to decompose, so I put them everywhere and anywhere...

Then, I needed an axis for the barrel to spin on so I put a spare piece of galvanized conduit through the middle. I am going to mount the barrel to two posts in the ground later, so I left extra tubing extending from both ends.

I ended up putting two more conduit pieces through the barrel to help with flipping the compost material- otherwise, it would just slide around on the smooth surface. My husband cut a door out of one side of the barrel (I don't trust myself with a circular saw), and he picked me out some shiny, heavy-duty hardware for the latches and hinges.

Here's the finished door- The hardware will definitely keep anything from falling out while the tumbler is spinning! My hubby even installed a handle for easy access...

Well, here's the finished project! I dug 2.5Ft holes and placed my posts in a bed of concrete to keep them stable. This will give me plenty of room to park a wheel barrel underneath when I'm ready to harvest my rich, homemade soil!

From wrestling with citrus trees to building my own compost tumbler, I think this was one of my most productive projects yet!

This post was shared on Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist.


  1. This is great!! These compost bins are so expensive. thank you for the creativity!

  2. how nice...great going!