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Sun-Mar 200 50-Gallon Rotating Compost Bin (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- Material goes in drum and exits automatically as drum rotates.
- Drum rotates easily on its bearings.
- Feed port slides open easily.
- 29-inch input height makes adding material easy.
- Double drum design moves compost during rotation.
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The Sun-Mar 200 is a continuous composter with a 6 bushel (50 gallon) capacity. It is excellent for composting kitchen scraps and a few cut up garden trimmings. Compost discharges automatically. No waiting for batches to finish. Pest resistant. Easy to load and turn. Sun-Mar composters go a step further by incorporating the Sun-Mar patented double drum Autoflow design. In the Autoflow design, material goes in the top and compost exits automatically out the end as the drum rotates.
Top customer reviews
I'm still holding out hope that this will produce compost as I also have yet to see any, but I'll blame that on me being a composting rookie. I suppose I'll just have to rig up a strap to hold the thing on.
The first summer I had this composter (I got in in August) it produced not a lick of compost and I had followed the included instructions precisely. (And even called SunMar customer support, though they seemed to not understand what the problem was and recommended water and turning it more, which didn't solve the problem.)
The problem is that the English instructions are very misleading and do not describe how the composter actually works, or how best to care for it in order to maxamize compost production.
On a blog I learned a bit more about how the composter is supposed to work.
From the promo material online and in the directions I thought that when items were deposited into the inner drum they should be compost (at least that's what the pictures and graphics seemed to depict). So when I would peek in the inner drum and see dried up leaves and other items that were very much NOT composted, I'd toss them back in the drum and the cycle repeated itself. For MONTHS. From August until it froze solid in January I had not produced a single tablespoon of finished compost, though it was obvious that things were breaking down in the outer drum.
The problem was that the items that ended up in the inner drum were not compost at all, but only partially rotted, but still identifiable, bits of things from the outer drum.
I was very disappointed, but it had been so long at that point there was no way to return the product.
The Right Way to Use this Composter:
Over the winter I did some digging and found that the German instructions are a lot different than the English ones, and figured out how this composter is actually designed to work.
1) Fill the outer drum with the right mix of green and brown matter and water. The instructions also say to add Peat Moss as a brown matter as this helps keep the finished compost light and fluffy. Water should be 60% or so of the weight of the compost in the outer drum. When you add new material, add it only at the mouth, do not try to spread it out towards the back of the drum, as this is where the port hole to the inner drum is, and you want only older, more composted materials to be sifting inwards.
2) Rotate the drum 3-5 rotations, 2 times a week or so. As you rotate the composter, some matter goes into the inner drum. This matter is often the most broken down of the items in the outer drum, but is NOT fully composted. At this point I would often scoop out the uncomposted dried-out matter and toss it back in the outer drum.
Rather than just watering the outer drum as the instructions say, you must add water to the inner drum as well to keep the materials inside moist as they continue their final breakdown, sequestered from the new matter being added to the outer drum. I have a little garden rake that I'll use to mix up the inner drum materials after I water them with the hose.
The outer drum and composting matter inside it actually doubles as insulation for the inner drum, keeping it warmer than the inner drum and speeding up the composting process.
3) When adding water it is important to add it evenly. I add new material, water the top layer, close the lid and rotate it twice, open the lid, water it some more and rotate it twice more. The I open the inner drum port, mist water in there, and mix up the contents a little with a hand rake.
4) Leave the lid open. This is actually in the instructions, but I missed it the first time. Leaving the lid open is a bit counter-intuitive as this mode is marketed as pest-proof, so I thought by that I was obviously supposed to close the lid. Leaving the lid open on the top lets bugs come in and do their work.
By adjusting how I was using the composter I went from no compost in three months to having rich dark compost in a month (granted there was broken down matter in the outer drum, it just had to finish its cycle in the inner drum).
The only thing bad about this product was that the instructions and promotional readings don't give a clear idea of how the composter works or how to use it properly.
Other than that it was easy to assemble, has held up great, and the handle makes it easy for me to turn, even though I am a very small woman.