Leslie Segrete: This is Leslie Segrete coming to you from the 2015 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. We are here bringing you the news in the newest, best and most innovative do-it-yourself products being shown right here on the show floor.
We’ve got a great guest joining us, we’ve got Darrin Gunnell. He’s a product manager for lawn and garden division for Lifetime Products and we’re here to talk about the compost tumbler.
Now, Darrin, what I think is so interesting is when we enter the Spring season everybody starts talking about gardening and growing things, and there’s always the topic of soil health and soil quality. Everybody wants to be their own organic gardener and grow their own produce and grow their own vegetables. I think it really does start with the soil. How has Lifetime sort of joined in this whole process of helping you to achieve a really successful garden?
Darrin Gunnell : I think people need to realize that to have a successful garden and healthy soil you don’t need to buy all these additives. You got it in your kitchen. All your waste items, your scraps from the table, throw them in the composter, let them cook for 4 to 12 weeks. Put that in your soil and its a great soil amendment.
Leslie Segrete: I know for me, I have never composted anything so the whole idea and process of composting is an actual mystery to me. So, we’ve got our compost tumbler. Is there anything we have to put in the bottom? Are there worms involved? I mean, I don’t know, please explain this to me.
Darrin Gunnell : What Lifetime does with our products is we bring products to the masses.
Leslie Segrete: Okay, and they’re always durable and high quality. You guys are always looking for ways to bring these things to the people.
Darrin Gunnell : Right. We got to make them last. Our reputation is on the line here. What we do with this composter is we’ve brought composting to the masses by making it simple. All you do with this composter is you throw in your scraps. There’s a ratio of green to brown, is what we call it.
Leslie Segrete: Green being like lawn clippings and lettuce?
Darrin Gunnell : Exactly. Nitrogen rich products. Then there’s carbon rich products. Things like dead leaves that you’ve raked up from the fall or paper, newspaper you can shred up and throw in.
Leslie Segrete: Okay, can it be color newspaper? Is there a difference? Does it just have to be the black and white pages?
Darrin Gunnell : It can be color newspaper. You don’t want any paper with a waxy, artificial …
Leslie Segrete: So no circulars?
Darrin Gunnell : Yeah.
Leslie Segrete: Keep your coupon clippings separate from your compost.
Darrin Gunnell : Exactly. Paper plates, the ones without the wax coating, those are great to throw in there too. What you want to do is just throw in a 20:1 mix. Twenty percent carbon to one percent nitrogen.
Leslie Segrete: Not all of your food scraps are appropriate, correct?
Darrin Gunnell : That’s right. You don’t want to put any animal fat in there. Animal waste like from herbivores you can put in there. Chicken and cow and things like that, but you don’t want to put any left over meat or anything that might attract insects, throw it in the composter. What composting does is a bacteria grows and starts eating all that stuff and transforms it.
Leslie Segrete: And that just happens naturally? You’re just adding in the parts that go to it.
Darrin Gunnell : Exactly. It needs heat, air and that’s about all. Sometimes some water. You don’t want it to be really wet. It needs to be damp, but not dripping wet. It needs air, so with this compost tumbler you spin it a couple times a week.
Leslie Segrete: You’re rotating it. Okay. Are you ever looking in it and checking it out?
Darrin Gunnell : Yeah …
Leslie Segrete: And does it smell horrible?
Darrin Gunnell : No actually, when the combination is right it doesn’t smell at all. That’s what a lot of people are surprised by.
Leslie Segrete: Interesting.
Darrin Gunnell : Yeah. You can put it right next to your patio and you won’t smell it if the combination is correct.
Leslie Segrete: Interesting because I think that’s always, when I start to think of composting … I understand the benefits of it. My uncle and my cousins they’re amazing gardeners, and anything I put into the ground dies immediately. They’re always telling me, “It’s your soil. You got to turn the soil. You got to get in there. You got to mix the right things into the soil. Compost your soil. Do everything that you can to do it.” And I’m thinking, “Ugh, it’s going to smell. It’s hard. I don’t understand.” But this seems to make it really user-friendly.
Darrin Gunnell : Right.
Leslie Segrete: How long once I’ve got all the components in there does it take to sort of “cook” as you say? Which is a recipe I don’t want to eat, but let’s talk about cooking compost.
Darrin Gunnell : It really depends on what’s going on inside the composter. With the Lifetime composter there is two 50 gallon drums. What we recommend is you put your scraps in one drum for awhile and then you’re going to leave it alone and just let it cook. Then you can fill up the other one. We say about 4 to 6 weeks to get good compost. You know it’s ready when it smells earthy like dirt.
Leslie Segrete: Does it look like dirt?
Darrin Gunnell : It looks like dirt. It’s dark brown. It falls apart in your hands. It’s loose. The 4 to 12 week period depends on the amount of heat that is in it.
Leslie Segrete: Do you want to put it in a sunny spot?
Darrin Gunnell : Yeah. Put it in direct sunlight is fine. You don’t want to go over about 160 degrees in there though. There are some thermometers you can put in there. We don’t really think you need it. Just a normal sunny spot that you rotate around if it gets too hot would be great. Then if it dries out you want to put a little bit of water in it. Like I said earlier, you want it to be wet but not full of water. If you can wring water out it’s too wet. In that case you’d put more carbon or paper to absorb it.
If you get those combinations right which isn’t a precise science. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But, if you get those right and you’re rotating it 4 to 12 weeks, usually 4 weeks if it’s really well balanced, then you’ve got your compost.
Leslie Segrete: That’s amazing. Once you’ve achieved this compost, are you just mixing it into the soil you’ve already got at home or this ideal to just put completely in a pot and then plant some things in the pot, or do you got to mix it in?
Darrin Gunnell : You should mix it in. It’s got a lot of “vitamins” in it for the plants. Sometimes you can burn the roots if you just put just compost.
Leslie Segrete: Wow! Because it’s so nutrient rich.
Darrin Gunnell : So nutrient rich, correct. Another thing, too, with the composter you’ll see some run-off every once in awhile. It looks like tea and we call that compost tea.
Leslie Segrete: But don’t drink it.
Darrin Gunnell : Don’t drink it, but it’s great for the plants. Dilute it 10:1 with water and as your compost is curing water your plants with the compost tea.
Leslie Segrete: That’s fantastic. This really is a great way for people to sort of cut down on household waste, to improve the quality of their garden whether or not they’re growing produce or vegetables or whatever it might be. I think as a side product of it, it’s a great family activity. You’re spending a lot of time in the garden with your family, you’re learning something, it’s interesting. It’s almost like a science experiment.
Darrin Gunnell : Exactly.
Leslie Segrete: And, of course, what a great opportunity to go hand in hand with Lifetime products because we know your sheds, we know all of your storage things, we know your tables and chairs. We know everything. We know you do it right, we know you do it well, and we know you do it to last. So, Darrin Gunnell, thank you so much for joining us. If you want to check out the website it’s Lifetime.com. We hope you get to composting today.
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