The picture shows two Jora 270's with two Scotty's HotBoxes in the background
Small tumblers such as the Jora 270, are ideal for food waste because they are insulated, other tumblers will also work when the weather is warm.
If you tumble daily you can maintain high temperatures, especially if you keep feeding with fresh waste, sometimes it seems as though you can never fill the chamber, and of course you must leave some space or it will not tumble effectively. When you approach this stage, stop adding more fresh material but keep tumbling. The temperature will start to fall off after a while without fresh material being added.
In order to maximise the use of the tumbler it’s a good idea to move the contents into a maturation bay for the maturation stage of composting. The Scotty’s Hot Box is ideal for this as it has a large capacity and is a challenge for rodents to break into, but you could make a secure maturation bay out of, for instance concrete blocks on a solid base and make a secure lid, or use a New Zealand Box which was rat proofed with weld mesh.
I’ve found that rats are only likely to expend a lot of energy in breaking in if there is fresh food to be had – not after two weeks or so hot composting in an in vessel system.
The Jora manufacturers claim that you can put about 20 kilos a week into the Jora 270 a week. And when one half is too full to add any more you move onto the other side. But that is in order to produce completely finished compost ready to go on the garden. I find that although these systems are great at the first hot phase of composting and the manufactures all claim that they produce finished compost, in fact the last maturation phase of composting cannot be hurried and I think you really need the worms to finish off the process. So, if you are not trying to produce finished compost, but use your in-vessel composter to do the first three stages of composting then all you need is a long maturation stage. This way you can put a lot more than the manufacturers recommended throughput. If you do not wait for the compost to mature you can put at least three times the recommended amount through the system.
Pros of tumblers
- Makes the job of turning your compost very easy
- Secure and sealed in vessel means that rats and mice and most flies etc cannot get in and so great for food waste
- Insulated tumblers work through the winter
- Accelerates the composting process – especially the volatile hot firstphase.
- They are also useful for dealing with perennial weeds, and for mixing materials. The compost they produce can be used directly on the garden, or can be placed in a covered pile in your garden to enable it to mature to a finer product.
Cons of tumblers
- Can get very heavy and difficult to turn
- Insulation wears thin (on Jora – although they have now acted on feedback and claim to have improved their insulation material)
- Clips and hinges and other moving parts can deteriorate and fail to function. (Jora – again acting on feedback they have improved the design of their machines)
- They take up quite a bit of space.
- A supply of, ideally dry, woodchip needed to mix with the food waste.
- Prone to get small fruit flies if not getting the mix right and maintaining high temperatures.