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
For those of you who are looking for the final word on the Sun-Mar 200 Garden Composter, I will warn you right now, I don't have it. But I'll tell you as much as I can.
Note (11/2): If you have used a Sun-Mar composter, please feel free to add your voice to the comments below. There's not much customer feedback on this product right now, so let's create some! :)
So as you know from Part One of this review, I began composting in May and have yet to see compost from my Sun-Mar. Before I get into the exciting customer service drama, let's talk a little bit about how the Sun-Mar appears to work. It's supposed to be continuous compost, which means as opposed to other systems where you have to wait for an entire batch to finish composting, you can add stuff continuously *and* get compost at the same time. Brilliant.
To achieve this feat, there is an outer drum and an inner drum. You put the garbage into the outer drum. Eventually, the compost will make it's way to the inner drum where you simply empty it into your barrel as in the illustration above. Here's a more detailed illustration (you can click on it to make it bigger):
So once a month or so, I would check the inner drum. Inside would be a few pieces of garbage, totally dried out from being in the inner drum, but certainly not compost. And since I had learned that moisture was a necessary part of the mix, I would shove the dried out garbage back into the outer drum (where everything seems to be decomposing quite nicely) and wait some more.
Around August, I started to get a little impatient. I emailed Sun Mar customer service to see if this was normal. No response.
Around September, I tried the customer service email address again. This time throwing out the "I'm writing a review" phrase in hopes that it would get a response. No luck.
At the beginning of October, Reba (visit her organic farm here), who works for the terrific company that sold us the Sun-Mar (and who, as a former union organizer, has a lower threshold for being ignored) called Sun-Mar directly.
After a *long* discussion, here's essentially what the Sun Mar representative said:
- First, the composter needs to be almost full
- Then, the garbage will fill up the inner drum
- Once the inner drum is full, the material inside (aided by the heat from the full outer drum around it) will begin to compost
- As the material decomposes, it shrinks down, so you can keep adding more garbage as the process continues
But let me just say (and please tell me if you disagree) this is *not* what it looks like in either of the diagrams.
Let me also point out that the Sun-Mar representative was incredibly rude and impatient throughout the conversation. Reba told me that at one point he exclaimed something along the lines of:
"If you knew anything about how composting works, you would understand this."At which point she lost her patience and retorted:
"I am a farmer!"Now to be fair, the person she talked to was not a customer service representative. He said he was filling in because they were short-staffed and didn't have anyone else to do it.
Still, it is not that difficult to be courteous.
So I'll keep adding garbage to the composter through the winter, and in the Spring, I'm going to expect some serious composting action. I'll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, some advice for Sun-Mar, in case they're reading:
- Be more clear in your materials
- Answer your emails
- Staff your customer service desk
- Lose the attitude: BE COURTEOUS