What do the contents of your YOLO shells look like?

As the YOLO manufacturer, you may be wondering what my YOLO contents look like. A friend also asked me to send him some photos.

I’m running a small double, which I’ve had going since we went into production early last year. I only put kitchen cuttings, tea leaves, coffee grounds etc. in the small – together with crushed dry leaves and torn-up egg trays as dry materials. I’ve emptied about 11 or 12 shells worth of material in 12 months at around 6.5-7kg each.

I also have the prototype of our large unit. In this one I add only garden material (primarily grass cuttings and crushed dry leaves) plus old material . I don’t have much in the way of other garden trimmings. Since late August, when I started with the large, I have emptied four or five loads from the large shells at around 22kg each load.

Contents from the small are more chunky than the large as material going into the large is more fine. When I empty the small I just smash the chunks using a spade.

In autumn last year, I stashed leaves after watching this TED Talk, knowing that I’d need them when I got the large. We have a huge oak tree on our pavement. I made big piles of leaves and ran my lawnmower over them to shred the leaves. This greatly reduces the volume to make it easy to store. Whenever we have a storm and there are leaves on the ground, we rake them up, let them dry and then I run them through the mower and add to my stash.

I have a compost heap that has never been touched except to dump grass, leaves and odd garden trimmings on it. Since August, I have been working through the heap, adding old material to the fresh grass cuttings in my large YOLO. My aim is to get rid of most of the compost heap (which started out at about 3m long, 1m wide and less than 1m high – sprawling) and to just keep a small 1mx1m area to stash leaves and grass cuttings to add later to the YOLO.

Today I’m reducing some of the length of the heap so that by the end of today it should be only 2m long (the far end doesn’t have much material as I’ve been taking from here to load into my YOLO).

I don’t always get the moisture balance in my YOLOs right, especially if I’ve been busy and distracted. I get in the rhythm of tossing in kitchen cuttings and sometimes neglect to balance with enough dry materials. I see quickly enough that it is looking too moist (and the odour goes a bit off) so then I just add more torn-up egg trays and dry leaves, tumble more regularly and it comes right within 48hrs.

I’ve also made mistakes. A few weeks ago I was pottering in the garden. I got distracted and left the one large YOLO lid open. It poured down (22mm of rain!) and so the contents got soaked. I loaded up with crushed leaves and dry materials from the heap, tumbled more regularly for a few days and it came right. Composting is forgiving.

I do get black soldier fly larvae in my small YOLO shells (they like kitchen waste) but I find them to be beneficial to the composting process, not harmful. I have very little fruit waste – mainly just banana peels and odd apple cores and occasional watermelon peels. I have never had fruit flies nor ants nor other flies buzzing around.

We get vervet monkeys in our area and they have yet to even look at my YOLOs.

Every mix is different and every tumbler-full that I empty is as rewarding as the first.


Here are some photos of the current contents of my shells.

My current ‘active’ large YOLO Compost Tumbler shell. This is just grass cuttings and shredded dry leaves. These contents are less than a week old. It was full, up to the rim, but has already reduced in volume to half (you can see the central pipe). I’ll be adding more grass and leaves to this mix.
This is maturing material in my second large YOLO Compost Tumbler shell. It is around five weeks old. It is primarily grass trimmings and dry leaves. This morning I added the maturing kitchen waste content from my small YOLO to it to enrich the material. I’ll probably give it another two weeks before using it.
This is mu current ‘active’ shell of my small YOLO Compost Tumbler in which I put kitchen waste with dry crushed leaves and torn-up egg trays and egg shells to balance the moisture. These contents are 3-4 weeks old in total. It will still take me a few weeks to fill it. As you can see, recognisable material (watermelon peels, onion skins, leaves) are mixed in with material that is already quite composted (dark stuff).
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