Friday, June 6, 2008

Grab Bag Friday: Sun Mar 200 Compost Update

I've had a number of requests for a Sun Mar 200 continuous composter update, so here's what I've got for you:

My composter is about 3/4 full. When I open it, steam comes out and everything appears to be moist and breaking down, so something has to be working.

But. (You knew it was coming, didn't you?) In the inner drum where the compost is supposed to be gathering, there is still a bunch of dried garbage collecting there. Even when I push it back into the main composter (as suggested by Sun Mar), more dried garbage still falls into the inner drum. Let me be clear: everything in the inner drum is not composting because it is completely dried out. Got it?

So I chatted with the friendly folks at FW Horch this week (rather than try to duke it out with the Sun Mar folks again), and they suggested that instead of pushing the dried garbage from the inner drum back in, to pull it out and put it back in at the top. In case it is the same dried garbage that keeps falling in?

So that's my next plan of attack. In the meantime, Brett at FW Horch pointed out that at least it's working like a bottomless garbage can. Which, I suppose, is something. As always, I'll keep you posted.

If you've missed any of this riveting food-disposal drama, you can catch up here.

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


Cathy said...

I came to your site by Googling Sun-Mar garden composter review and found a very helpful review. I was surprised to also find a wonderful recipe for talapia and tomatoes. Thank you. I have yet to find anyone who says that this composter works, so I will look for something else. Thank you.
Cathy Church

Josephine Cameron said...

Hi Cathy.
Sorry to say, we've had no luck with the Sun Mar. But at least you've got a good talapia recipe now! :)
Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I bought a sun-mar-200. Not only does it not work the drum will not stay in the frame. I added two 5/16" threaded rods to hold it together. I too dump the inner tube material back into the outer drum (I hesitate to call it a composter.

Unknown said...

I've stumbled across your blog in my effort to find a good composter (the whole blog looks interesting -- I'm looking forward to checking it out). I'm considering the Sun Mar but it doesn't sound like it's worked very well for you. Did you ever get it to finally work well?Are you still using it? Thanks!

Josephine Cameron said...

Hi Rachel,
I never did get it to "finish" like it's supposed to in the inner drum. We're still using it, though, and even though we haven't gotten any usable compost yet, we've reduced the amount of trash that we bring to the dump by a *lot*, so I don't regret that.

If I had it to do all over again, though, I'd take the money we spent on the Sun-Mar and buy two smallish, basic tumbling composters. That way when one fills up, you can just turn it and let it compost while you fill the other. Voila...continuous compost!

Good luck, and if you think of it, please do stop back and let me know how things go. I'd love to hear what you decide to do and how it works out.

Unknown said...

Wow -- over a year and still no final compost -- not a ringing endorsement of the product. But I agree that reducing the landfill contribution is still useful.

I was starting to think that buying two tumblers is really the only way to go for just the reason you mentioned. Now I just have to figure out which specific tumblers to buy -- and get over the feeling that it's absurd to pay so much to buy something to facilitate what mother nature would do automatically -- albiet slower. But I can't have rodents coming around our yard for dinner everynight, so in our dense neighborhood, I guess the tumblers are a way to circumvent mother nature a little but get the same result. I'll let you know how it goes.

Josephine Cameron said...

That was our problem, exactly. We live in town, & if we just had an open compost bin, we'd get every dog and cat (and raccoon!) within a 10 block radius. The money was worth it to keep things tidy and rodent-free.

Anonymous said...

I, too am looking for a composter and was at a friend's place who had a Sun-Mar 400. he loves it. He said the key for him was to getting compost quickly was take a shovel of worm-enriched soil as a 'starter' and put that on top of the scraps in the bin. When I looked in his bin, there was a lot of rotted compost, the scraps he had put in from the last few days and a whole lot of worms.

This was his second. The first had some problems with some bad fitting parts and the company sent him a second. He was able to fix the first one and now enjoys two of them as the supplier felt it was too much trouble to get the first one back.
We also live in a temperate zone (Vancouver, B.C.) so freezing is not a big issue.