Remember this whole How to Compost for Home & Garden series? If you weren't hanging around Please Come Flying when I started it, here's the recap: my husband and I decided to try composting this summer for the first time. So, according to Fred Horch's rules of composting, we:
#1 Made it a priority
#2 Chose a system (the Sun-Mar 200 Garden Composter)
#3 Collected organic material (with a healthy mix of greens & browns)
#4 Mixed the materials
#5 Moistened the mixture (but not too much)
And then we hit #6: Wait. And wait we did. May. June. July. September. Is it *really* October?
So why didn't we get any compost, you may ask? Good question.
While I was waiting for results, I had some emails from other Sun-Mar composter-users who were also waiting for results. I also had some emails from people who were *thinking* about buying a Sun-Mar and wanted to know how it was going. Why were they asking me of all people? Because there are virtually no customer reviews out there for this composter. Even now, months later, I still can't find out what customers think of the Sun-Mar 200.
So I guess it's up to me. Before I get into the heart of the matter (the compost), let's have a review of the claims from the Sun-Mar brochure to see how they stand up (the purple bullets are from the Sun-Mar literature, my comments are in black).
Next week, in Part Two of this review, I will tackle the biggies: Continuous Compost, the Inner Drum, and Customer Service.
- Easy to feed: Material goes in through easy-access top ports. This is true. Sometimes the sliding door can get a little sticky. You just have to pull harder. And as the material accumulates and the composter gets heavier, you sometimes have to balance the barrel to keep it upright while dumping the garbage in. Otherwise, the extra weight you are adding can cause it to start rotating against your will. But after that happens once, you learn pretty quickly to brace the barrel with a hand or knee. Overall, it is very easy to feed.
- Back-saving ball bearings mean easy turning. Again, true. The bigger models have handles to turn the barrel with. The 200 has what Sun-Mar calls "finger friendly slots" that you grip to spin the barrel. As it gets fuller, it definitely gets heavier (obviously), but so far, it's been easy enough to turn (and strength is not one of my best qualities).
- Patented, double drum, Autoflow® design. See diagrams of the inside (This is one of the biggies...I'll get to this in Part Two of this review.)
- Compost exits automatically as the drum rotates: Fresh compost comes out the bottom port, automatically, when done. Tool free, shovel free, fork free! Again, we'll talk about this later, but yes, so far it has been entirely tool free, shovel free, fork free!
- Pest Proof. So far, so good. No critters have been able to penetrate it...not even the enterprising squirrel that has made a sweet little seed-stash in Kevin's outdoor grill. There are, of course, flies and gnats and all those lovely creatures, but they are working hard on making compost. They are also relatively contained to the *inside* of the composter.
- Assembly in minutes (really!): Just snap the cradle on to the drum bearings and you’re ready to go. Yes. Simple. It has wheels that snap in easily and you can move it around the yard with no trouble at all.
In the meantime...anyone out there use a Sun-Mar this summer? How did it go? Leave a comment and let us all know.
Here is the complete How to Compost series in case you'd like to catch up or review:
Step 1: Make it a Priority
Step 2: Choose a System
Interlude: Nature Tried to Kill My Composter
Step 3: Collect Organic Material
Step 4: Mix the Materials
Step 5: Moisten the Mixture
Step 6: Wait
Interlude: The Lightbulb Change
Interlude: The Yogurt Change
Interlude: The Sponge Change
Interlude: The Leftover Change
Interlude: The Napkin Change
The Sort-of Sun-Mar 200 Review Part One
The Sort-of Sun-Mar 200 Review Part Two
Sun-Mar 200 Compost Update
Sun-Mar 200: Starting All Over Again
Step 7: Use Your Compost
Step 8: Sun Mar 200 Garden Composter Review