Building an outdoor compost bin was the very first thing we did when we started working on the new yard last spring. We made our bin on the cheap by upcycling a busted futon frame that was left in the yard by former occupants. So far the bin has worked beautifully, but like all one-bin systems it has its downsides. Keeping the bin aerated is a chore, and the fresh, ready-made compost is a pain to extract from the very bottom of the pile. The bin is also open to vermin, and while nesting rodents can be discouraged simply by keeping a well-maintained pile, I have had at least one unwelcome occupant in my years working with D.I.Y compost piles.
Homemade bins are very viable and often far superior to the cheap black plastic contraptions sold by the City (our kept falling apart and eventually housed a wasp nest), but they are not ideal. For that reason I have longed to try a really good composting system, specifically a tumbler that makes easy work of turning a heavy pile. Still, when eartheasy contacted me about trying out the Jora JK125 Tumbling Composter I was intrigued but extremely hesitant as I wasn’t sure where or how I would cram a second composting unit into an already jam-packed, narrow urban yard.
Over the years, my motto as an obsessive plant hoarder working within exceptionally tight spaces has been, “I’ll make it fit.” And somehow, magically, I always do. The only reason I was able to to manage it here is because the Jora is a self-contained unit. It smells a bit when the balance of greens and browns is off, but even then we’re only subjected to a marginally funky smell when the lid is opened. Beyond that, it’s a really easy composting system to live with. I specifically located my D.I.Y bin way at the back of the garden, away from the house, but I was able to cram the Jora into our outdoor seating area, nearly touching the table I eat at. So far so good. Some people decorate their outdoor living areas with decorative water features, attractive container plantings, or charming woodstoves. I sit down to dinner next to an industrial-green, powder-coated steel, 33 gallon compost bin.
And I actually like it! Turns out that I like the Jora a lot more than I imagined I would and my delight in it is growing everyday. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the unit set up long enough to make it through to a first batch of finished compost, but here are my thoughts and observations so far:
- The bin is insulated to create heat. It is purported to compost straight through the winter, which is something that my D.I.Y bins have never managed to accomplish. I can’t wait to see this in action this winter (although I am in no hurry to actually GET to winter).
- Aerating the “pile” really is as easy as you’d imagine and want from a turning composter. The contraption has several handles located on all sides and so far they’ve been very sturdy. I turn it daily with just about no effort. Love this feature!
- There are two chambers, each with their own securely fitted lid. This means I can fill up one side, then work on the other while the first side does its business. The first bin is supposed to be finished by the time the second is full. Genius!
- So far the bin has been big enough to hold our family’s food scraps with some browns from the garden. The key here seems to be in adding garden bits that are small or chopped up — no lazy cheating with larger sticks and bits as we sometimes do with the D.I.Y bin.
- On the plus side, I’ve been able to add more citrus peels than I usually add to my D.I.Y bins and so far, so good.
- I have noticed some leaking out of the seams on one side. Liquid is often generated in the composting process and I’m not yet sure whether this was an indication that my bin was too wet at one point, a problem with the bin’s construction, or if this just happens and that’s that.
- My only complaint so far is that it was a pain in the butt to put together. I have even worked professionally designing, illustrating, and writing assembly instructions for office furniture so I know my way around a complicated build, and Davin and I still had some trouble with this one. We made it work in the end, but not without losing our cool once or twice in the process. In hindsight, I probably should have watched the handy how-to video on the eartheasy website. Even if the video didn’t help clarify the process, it would have given us somewhere to direct our frustration.
How to win a Jora JK125 Tumbling Composter
The folks at eartheasy have agreed to offer up one of these sweet units to a lucky YouGrowGirl.com reader. Simply post a comment below and you will be entered to win. Your comment can be as simple as “Enter me please” or “Count me in.”
Limitations: Unfortunately, this particular contest is limited to residents of the lower 48 states of the United States of America only. Canadian and International readers will not be entered this time around. Sorry folks.
One winner will be chosen at random using random dot org’s tool after entries close at midnight EST Thursday, May 31. Good luck to all!