composter from wahing machine

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mtfarmchick, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. mtfarmchick

    mtfarmchick Well-Known Member

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    Hi all! I am looking for a way to turn my broken down washing machine into a composter. I've heard about other people doing it and I'm just wondering how to go about it. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    Amanda
     
  2. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    A 55 gallon drum on a roll track is the best tumbler I have seen. Just mount mixer fins inside like a dryer has. A washer or dryer drum makes an excellent wormcast and worm seperator though.
     

  3. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    Shrek,
    Was wondering what the difference is, if any, between a "wormcast and worm seperator" and a regular worm bed. My DH started a worm bed (for lack of a better name) with half of a 55 gallon plastic drum. He dumped the dirt and worms in there and has been adding stuff to it all year. We've got some monstrous worms out of there to go fishing with, that's for sure. That's about all he wants it for, is the bait, so he doesn't have to keep buying worms in the summer. If what you mentioned is different that what we've got then I'd like to know what the contraption does because I've got an old washer and dryer sitting out in the backyard I need to do something with. Any help plz?
    Heather
     
  4. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    A bed is what you raise the squirmys in. A seperator is what you put the dirt and worms in to sift out or seperate the worms from the rich soil worm poop. Seperation can be tumbler style , floodng ,heat or oxygen deprivation forced migration or "pick and count table".
     
  5. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    MtFarm,

    Before I took the plunge and bought a Garden Way compost tumbler I considered making a washer drum composter like you're talking about.

    Here are the problems I see.

    1) The volume is smaller that the magic one cubic yard volume that most composting books suggest is the minimum required to have a thermophilic pile.

    2) The air holes in the drum would probably be too many to allow for the proper moisture content. (It would dry out very easily)

    3) In order to get the dreamlike 14 day compost of a drum composter you need to have everything dead on. Carbon:Nitrogen ratio near 40, small particle sizes, moisture levels etc. I found that getting a perfect batch of starter materials together to be more of a problem than it was worth. On one day I might have plenty of Nitrogen (grass clippings, vegetable waste) and no browns (leaves shreaded paper etc.) If you want 14 day compost like a tumbler is supposed to deliver you have to have it all together at once. Then you must store your materials for 14 days while the first batch finishes.

    I got rid of my Compost Tumbler since I found it too finicky. I wouldn't recommend buying or building one unless you have easy acces to the perfect compostable mix of materials and are willing to "baby" the compost constantly. I still make compost in a static pile and turn it rather infrequently. It's a slower process but easier to manage. A tumbler only makes turning the pile easier but every other management aspect of composting more difficult.

    I can't see where a homemade tumber would be be any better than a store bought one from the standpoint of function. It might however, be cheaper, more conservative of resources (your existing washer) and give you some personal satisfaction. But I don't think it will be any more convenient or functional than a simple stationary compost pile.

    Sorry to wet blanket your idea but I'd be sorrier if you went to the effort and were dissapointed with the results

    Thanks

    Ed
     
  6. mtfarmchick

    mtfarmchick Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the input. My washer is a Maytag, only 5 years old! I figured it would still be under warranty but it's not. The transmission needs to be replaced and it's about $250. I only paid about $400 for the washer so I figure I'm better off buying another machine. I was just trying to find a use for the broken one and maybe get a little more of my money out of it.
     
  7. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    Use the drum for a paper fueled barbeque grill . The holes make it like a blast furnace :)
     
  8. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    Great, my place came with two of these drums and I was wondering how I was going to make use of them!

    Now need to find a use for old freezer, hot water heater, fridge stove and lawn mower that decorates the woods behind the barn!


     
  9. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    Freezer: wormbed or dry feed storage bin

    Water heater : grey water filter and fish fryer if its a gas model

    fridge: see freezer

    Stove: if its one with a oven, it can be modified into a solar oven with a window some mirrors and a sawsall.

    Lawn mower: A garbage can trolley from the frame, sheath knife from the blade and steam engine as described in Countryside Magazine by removing a couple of cylinder pieces from the engine, adding some copper tube and a wood fired boiler made from a pressure tank with popoff valve.

    If the engine is functional, remove the blade and install a 12 volt alternator in the mower deck connected by a belt to the blade shaft and you have a gas powered 12 volt generator / battery charger / jump starter.
     
  10. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    I'm so glad I asked! I already have a second freezer in the old barn for feed - one of the huge 12ft double chest freezers. I knew there was a reason I told the former owner to just leave everything as it was!

     
  11. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    I always say "Junk is the raw materials to be cooked with an idea".
     
  12. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    If you contact your state attorney general's office, you can find out if you live in an implied warranty state. If you do, all consumer goods (except used cars) must be replaced or repaired by the manufacturer or retailer if they fail before the end of their "normal life span." For a washer and dryer, that's about 10 years. The implied warranty supercedes all manufacturer warranties. I paid about $200 to fix a washer that I ended up selling with my last house, wrote a letter to Maytag, and got a check back for the repair bill a year later, sitting in my new house with a new Frigidaire washer. If you find you're in an implied warranty state, pm me and I'll post a copy of the letter I sent. You could have Maytag repair it, sell it, and buy a compost tumbler or the lumber to build your own.