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Three Reasons You Want a Compost Tumbler

Three Reasons You Want a Compost Tumbler

Compost Tumbler

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All hail the compost tumbler! Greetings, my green friends. You know… I mention the phrase “leveraging Mother Nature” fairly often in my writings regarding True Living Organics (living soil) cannabis growing. Surfers leverage Mother Nature, and riding a wave—including catching it—is a lot like growing with living soil in many general ways. Keep this in mind as we look at three killer applications for the compost tumbler (tumbler) below.

Compost… when you think about it… is living soil. So, obviously, making compost is a keystone skill when leveraging the power of living soil. And I do mean power. The compost tumblers are like fantastic surfboards in the analogy above and make creating compost easy, fast, and without any nasty smells … Smells? For the far greater part, bad smells come from composting matter going Anaerobic. However, in a tumbler, you can easily avoid this just by tumbling it a few times regularly, every few days or so to keep it Aerobic. Learn those two A-words if you don’t know them already.

In order to ride/surf a wave well, you need some skills. When growing with living soil, that skill set is mostly NOT interfering with Mother Nature—sounds easy right? It’s not. Liquid nutrients interfere with the processes of living soil big time, and so interfere with your plant’s ability to feed itself naturally. Leveraging the true power of the living soil is all about the compost(ing) and consistency baybee. Check this out…

Tumbler Scenario Uno – The Casual Composter

My Tumbler is a Single Chambered FCMP Brand 36 Gallon for Composting and Soil Recycling Simultaneously
My Tumbler is a Single Chambered FCMP Brand 36 Gallon for Composting and Soil Recycling Simultaneously

If you are a home grower and flower up to 8 or 10 plants, or less, you’ll likely find a tumbler right around 36 gallons (capacity) is perfect. Outdoors growing using compost is easy, you just use the compost you make as a top dressing for your plants, regularly. This works much better than you might imagine in your head. When container growing, you can really leverage Mother Nature’s powers using your compost. You can get a dual chamber tumbler with 18 gallons per side capacity or single-chambered with a 36-gallon capacity.

As you produce compostable stuff, using kitchen scraps, any extra plant trimmings, old root balls, grass clippings, dead tree leaves, etc., just use one side at a time filling it with these things and tumbling it a few times around, a couple of times per week. Once the first side is filled up about ¾ of the way start filling the other side. About 20 to 30 days after a side is filled, it is ready to rock with finished compost. Once you get going, you will have a steady supply of compost to use. It’s a beautiful thing. Here’s a simple way to use your compost.

The Casual Composting Soil Mix
  • 4 parts compost
  • 4 parts soil
  • 1 part perlite or pumice

Mix these well, and you are ready to rock and roll. This soil mix is all ready to use immediately. As far as your soil additions go, use a quality bagged soil mix like Ocean Forest by Fox Farm or any of the G&B brand potting soil mixes. Just make sure it’s all organic without any synthetic fertilizers added. These quality bagged soils already have buffering elements in them for pH so you have no worries there.

Your Plants Will Love Their Compost and You Will Love Your Plants
Your Plants Will Love Their Compost, and You Will Love Your Plants

Whatever you do, don’t dismiss or otherwise underestimate the supreme power of this soil mix. The only way it won’t blow your mind using it, is if you interfere with its processes by adding something “stupid” like chlorinated water, liquid nutrients, sweeteners, tonics, blasters, Superthrive, etc. The bottom line is you can’t add anything like those things because you will “fall off the wave” by sending your soil into chaos. Living soil in chaos isn’t a death blow to your plants, but it sure takes away most of the magic that could have been.

Compost Tumbler Second Example – Soil Recycling

Here’s a way to really up your game and save some coin when container-growing your cannabis. You could use a dual or single-chambered tumbler for this. You add things like kitchen scraps and all extra cannabis stems and leaves, but you also add the used soil and root balls from your harvested plants. Once you have the chamber about ¾ full, you “start the clock,” and in 30 days, you will have some totally reinvigorated soil that is wicked good; better, in my experience, than using bagged soil.

Just tumble it around a couple of times per week, at least a few full turns/revolutions each time, and you’re all good. Using this soil recycling style, you will want to add just a few things along with your organic matter and used root balls.

Composting Supplies All Your Plants with Supreme Goodness Not Just Cannabis
Composting Supplies All Your Plants with Supreme Goodness Not Just Cannabis
Soil Recycling Tumbler Mix

This mix is based on a 36-gallon tumbler. If you have a dual-chambered tumbler, just half these ratios below for each side. If you only flower like four plants or less, a dual-chambered tumbler will likely work well. For more than four plants you may want to use a single-chambered tumbler version like the one I use. Once the compost chamber is about ¾ of the way full of organic matter and root balls, add in the following…

  • 1 heaping cup of dolomite lime
  • 1 cup of rice (raw or cooked) non enriched is preferred
  • ½ cup each of blood meal, crab meal, and bone meal
  • 1 cup ground raw or roasted pumpkin seeds (no salt)
  • ¼ cup Azomite granular (2 tablespoons if powdered)
  • 1 heaping cup of alfalfa meal or kelp meal (or cannabis meal)
  • Add about 1 gallon of perlite or pumice
  • Add about ½ gallon of manure or ½ cup of bird or bat guano (not the high P types)

After 30 days, you have yourself some seriously badass soil—oh, and—you can keep recycling it over and over this way. The best part is it gets better every time—yup. It will also grow (in mass) over time, so by all means, use any extra for top dressing veggies outdoors in the ground or using for container veggies outdoors. Prepare for the most delicious buds and food you have ever grown!

Third Scenario Example – Outdoors in the Ground

Outdoors this is super casual composting. Just toss all your compostable matter into your tumbler, let Mother Nature do her thing, and in 30 days, bam! No other additions are needed. So, I would get a dual-chambered tumbler for this job. You simply make compost like the casual composter method at the top, and then you spread that compost as a top dressing on your outdoor plants—regularly! You don’t need to use a ton every time, either. For a 5-foot plant, you could use about a gallon of compost per application.

See Also
Common Growing Issues

I would apply this mellow top dressing of compost to your plants about every seven days. Your plants will “learn” of this consistent food source, and they will leverage it. If you want to kick this compost up a big notch, include some bark mulch—about 2 gallons—in your tumbler with your composting matter. Also, make sure your outdoor plants are mulched with something like bark mulch. This creates a primo environment on the soil surface for massive microbial populations to do their thing longer and better. And that’s where all this magic will be happening.


Compost takes about 30 days to be complete in a compost tumbler. If you place your (black) tumbler in a place with at least 6 hours of direct sunshine per day, it will take more like three weeks to complete your compost. Your composting material should be fairly moist and if it gets a bit too dry looking simply add in some dechlorinated water and tumble it until everything is good.

There are some things you don’t want to add to your tumbler, and these include large amounts of onions, peppers, or citrus fruits. Very small additions of these are fine. If you don’t want massive flies and horrible smells, then don’t add any fat, dairy, meat, fish, or fowl. Also, avoid adding things like spices, sugar, and especially salt. As far as fantastic additions that work extra well for cannabis growing, check out the list below.

Great Compostable Materials for Cannabis Growing
Everything You Recycle Brings in Diverse Nutrients for Your PlantsEverything You Recycle Brings in Diverse Nutrients for Your Plants
Everything You Recycle Brings in Diverse Nutrients for Your Plants

As far as the manure additions go below, if you want to use some steer, cow, etc. manure in your tumbler, get it already composted to avoid big smells. If you have rabbits, feed them healthy and well, their manure is magically powerful. You can use rabbit manure raw or dried. You can also use chicken/bird guano and/or bat guano, dried or raw. Using manures and guanos is a very powerful move, so balance this out with potential smelly problems some of these may bring. Always wear a good mask when messing with raw bird/bat guano!

  • Used coffee and tea grounds, including the filters/bags
  • Bananas, peels, or fruit
  • Cantaloupe, rinds; all melon or gourd rinds
  • Potatoes and carrots, skins and meat
  • Broccoli, spinach, and basically all green veggies
  • Rice, raw or cooked; rinse off seasoned and cooked rice before composting
  • Seeds, basically any seeds/nuts cooked or raw; no salt
  • Herbivore manure, bird/bat guano, and rabbit manure is especially good here; larger animal manure can be stinky. You don’t need to add any manure to make great compost, but a little manure really kicks up the power of your compost
  • Shredded bark mulch and/or dried tree leaves as additions is a pro move
  • Cannabis plant matter, everything you don’t smoke, compost

Compost Tumblers Rule

Okay then, my green friends, until next time I’m outty. Want to read another article by yours truly? Here ya go: Letters to Rev – Random Home Breeding Questions. Drop by Kingdom Organic Seeds for some exotic and healthy cannabis seeds. L8r G8rs…

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