Improving your composting skills

I am having a blast watching John Kohler’s energised videos on compost tumbling on his YouTube channel “GrowingYourGreens“. Passionate about compost tumbling, Kohler could be my brother-from-another-mother. Hahaha. This is what I’ve enjoyed from his video “How to Make Better Compost by Improving Your Composting Skills“.

Kohler is running about five different brands of tumblers in his courtyard. He would love our YOLOs with their bright colours and handholds for easier tumbling.

In this video, he checks out the contents of his tumblers after being away for a week, checking the temperature of the contents and whether the mixes are too wet or too dry. These factors are influenced by what you put into your tumbler: nitrogen- and carbon-rich materials.

Things that commonly go wrong with compost mixes include:

  • Taking too long to compost: contents are probably too dry, not enough nitrogen-rich materials, not enough aeration
  • The contents are too cool (not giving off much heat); moisture balance is off, carbon-nitrogen balance is off, not enough aeration
  • Smelly: definitely too wet, too much nitrogen, not enough aeration

Trouble shooting solutions, Kohler identifies these four things:

Carbon: too much, too little.

Nitrogen: too much, too little.

Water: too much, too little.

Air: too much, too little.

“Very simple,” he says. “Just four simple things and if you get that right, then your compost will happen.”

Kohler also encourages you to experiment. I’ve been tumbling for over a year now in small and large YOLO Compost Tumbler units (I’ve got our prototype units at home) and every mix I create is different. Sometimes I’ll make a perfect batch and then the next one may be too wet, another too dry and one may start off perfectly and then go wonky in the middle… It all depends how much I’m paying attention, what I’m adding and how quickly I correct the balance. Fortunately, composting is very forgiving. There is no hard-and-fast recipe; you just need to respond to what the mix is telling you as it composts.

Enjoy this video.

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