7 Common Composting Mistakes (well+good)

This article on Well+Good addresses seven common composting mistakes. Not all of these are relevant to our YOLO Compost Tumblers, but they’re good to keep in mind. I’ll comment on the relevance to compost tumbling below.


Number 1. Not being prepared

While it is relatively easy to separate glass, metals, paper and plastics, to recycle organic waste by composting, you need to be prepared. The first step is deciding on a composting method. Of course, we think our YOLO Compost Tumblers are best, but there are other methods available to you from vermicomposting (worm farms), compost heaps, and pit composting (hole in the ground) to bokashi (anaerobic fementation), hot bins/stacks and the like.

It is all about finding what will work for you in terms of your lifestyle, amount of waste and space available.

Number 2. Making it too complicated

This section of the article is spot-on. Keep it simple, understand why you’re composting and what you are composting. Use the guidelines and tips on the side of your YOLO and you’ll do great.

Number 3: Not adding enough water

Because YOLO Compost Tumblers are closed and a lot of the focus is in composting moisture-rich kitchen materials, you’ll find that too much moisture is the more likely than too little. Always keep in mind our YOLO guidelines of 2/3 brown, dry carbon-rich materials to 1/3 green, nitrogen-rich materials. Of course, this ratio can vary depending on what you put in and seasonally. You should never need to add any water to your YOLO and always remember to add sufficient ‘brown’ materials to absorb moisture, contribute carbon and to ‘fluff’ the mix.

Number 4. Not enough air

The benefit of compost tumbling using a YOLO Compost Tumbler is that tumbling mixes and aerates the contents. Yes, opening the lid is sufficient to let fresh air in. Tumbling incorporates it into the mix. I usually open-close-tumble the shells two or three times for good measure. You need to tumble at least a few times a week for best results.

Number 5. Using a compost bin that’s too small

With a YOLO Compost Tumbler, your main consideration would be to not fill your YOLO shell more than 3/4 full. That airspace is needed for the materials to mix when you tumble. As the material matures, it will reduce in volume significantly. YOLOs come with two shells so that you can start the second one for your new material additions once the first is 3/4 full.

Number 6. Ignoring warning signs that your compost is out of balance

Spot-on! Yes! Sniff the contents of your YOLO every time you add material. It should smell earthy. It should never smell bad. If it does smell off, I’d bet money on it that your contents are too wet. Add more brown materials (crushed/shedded dry leaves work brilliantly as well as torn-up egg trays and cardboard) and tumble, tumble, tumble. Give your YOLO a bit more TLC for a few days and it will come right fast.

Number 7. Using compost before it’s finished

Over the few weeks that it may take you to fill a YOLO shell to 3/4, the first-added materials will already be composted. This will look like brown earth. The more recently added materials will be recognisable for what they are – carrot tops, potato peels and such. At this point, you leave the contents to mature and you start adding new material to the second shell.

Your YOLO compost is mature and ready for use when you can’t recognise material, the whole lot is dark soil, the volume of the contents is significantly reduced and when the material gives off little to no heat.

The timing varies from household to household and season to season. Overall, compost tumbling is significantly faster than a compost heap because of the mixing and aeration of the contents.

In general, when you stop adding new material to a shell and allow the recently-added materials to compost, you’re looking at 6-8 weeks. Regular tumbling (plus opening the lid to let in fresh air) together with external heat from a nice sunny spot and smaller pieces of material, will speed up the process. You can expect to empty 4-6 shells of YOLO compost a year.

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