Pay Dirt



Spring is only 16-20 weeks away. Yes, it’s true the worst months of winter are ahead of us here in northern Michigan, but just imagine, in as little as 16 weeks, we could be out in the garden getting ready for planting season. Not likely, but anything is possible.

I’m thinking of spring each time I venture out to the awesome composter we purchased at auction a couple of years ago. We’ve tried many a composter since starting out here with our garden venture. Each time purchasing off the auction thinking maybe this one was going to be “the one”.  With only minimal satisfaction we kept trying different types and brands not paying much for any  one of them. I suppose the original purchaser felt the same way. The product worked OK but didn’t quite live up to expectations. Then I saw this monster of a composter at auction, an Urban Compost Tumbler 9.  I researched it (looked awesome), bid on it and won it for a fraction of retail value.  If it lived up to expectation, it may just be the best value ever won at auction, we would have to wait and see!

We hauled it north and cleaned it up and started adding kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, a little starter from our old compost pile and other various compostable items hoping for a quick return as was advertised on the Internet. I continued to use my old pile just in case this was just another composter with a lot of hype.

That old pile was my starting point and a great learning tool. It gave me great excitement to see how this composting thing worked turning scraps back into soil. That first pile was where I discovered I could grow potatoes quite by accident! It enabled me to believe that I could do this. That I could create some self-sustainability here in the middle of nothing.

Working the ground here is almost impossible, almost because it is untouched. That’s why most of our garden is in raised beds. It would take a boat load of compost to amend the soil to a good vegetable growing media. So, we chose to stick to raised beds except for the potatoes and now blueberries. That’s where the composter comes in handy. Each time a batch is finished, it is immediately worked into the ground gardens to continually amend the soil and makes it just that much easier to work with the next time.

Every six weeks you can turn out a new batch of rich compost for the garden in this handy dandy very expensive composter that does exactly what it is advertised to do as long as you follow some very specific rules.

  1. No  meat or dairy, fish scraps or bones.
  2. Cut everything you add as small as you can.(very, very important)
  3. Keep your carbon and nitrogen balanced 3:1. (more brown matter than green)
  4. Do not overload your tumbler! (it will get too heavy to turn)
  5. Turn often. Make sure top is secure. (very, very, very important!)
  6. Add moisture as needed, do not get overly zealous.
  7. Place in a sunny location.
  8. Turn, wait, turn and wait.

This composter definitely lives up to expectations. Would I pay retail price for it, no I wouldn’t. What I paid for it at auction was my limit for such a luxury item. But if I had money to burn and was looking to buy a composter, this one would be the one I would suggest trying.

On my last trip to the composter, there was 18 inches of snow to trudge through, just to discover the top of the composter was frozen shut. After my husband was so kind to wade through the snow and break the ice on the lid and get it open for me, I was energized to shovel a pathway through the garden to make my trip a little easier next time. Now I will have a few extra minutes out there in the frigid cold to look across the east20 into the neighboring property and take in the beauty of the landscape that I can’t see in the summer hidden by the scrub trees and low lying bushes. Maybe I’ll see a whitetail or two bounding up the hill.  You never know!  Mother Nature is amazing!

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