When we left off last the stalks had broken down largely on their own. I allowed them to stay like this for almost a month, and added a healthy portion of grass clippings when the lawn came in. I was hoping they would finish breaking down on their own. They did not. What I ended up doing was pulling the whole batch from the barrel into the wheelbarrow, and chopping it further with a hoe. When that was complete I was left with a sloppy, “green” smelling mess. The only way I can describe the “green” smell is a smell that is so awful, it will gag you from 25 feet. If you ever want to know for your self, leave some grass clippings in a wheelbarrow through a rain storm. Then let it sit for about a week.
This sludgy, horrid smelling mess was telling me the nitrogen was way way to high. The way to fix this was with a carbon infusion. For that carbon I chose a healthy dose of cardboard, and a grain scoop and a half of wood chips. For the cardboard, I used scissors and chopped it very small. The small sized pieces are to offset the added breakdown time created by the newly added carbon.
The wood chips and cardboard were then mixed with the sludge, and the transformation was almost instant. The consistency changed to a more airy smelly mess. This wad of slop was then put back into the barrel to age more.
One week later I opened the door of the tumbler and was greeted with the light sweet smell of compost that is on track. The mix was still pretty wet but had retained its airy look. It still has a bit of time until it is ready to pull, but it is back on track.
The batch has been getting turned about every other day, I would expect it to be ready in mid September as long as we come out of this recent cold snap. I am finding that the tumbler has a hard time building the correct heat when it is below 60.

Stay tuned for the third edition of this post. I also welcome your thoughts and comments.



  1. I’m a big fan of junk mail for the carbon, to the point where I have been known to bring home shredded paper from work. Works great in the worm bin, doubles as chicken coop litter, and makes a great garden mulch if you don’t mind the look of bright white paper shred.

  2. If all you do is shred up big batches of leaves and nothing but leaves and let them sit until the Spring they will become high-quality compost all on their own.

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