So here’s the question for the day, people: can I turn a compost tumbler that’s a great fit for someone who’s almost two feet taller than I am? Let me explain.

Just yesterday afternoon I closed a deal with Chris of Backyard Gardening Blog to review what he modestly calls the World's Greatest Organic Compost Tumbler. Now, my first reaction to most offers is to say no, absolutely not, but, well, Chris made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: he’d give me a tumbler in exchange for an honest review, a promise not to sue him if it turns out that I can’t rotate the thing, and my next child. This decision required careful consideration, but after about three seconds I went with the tumbler. (Please don’t tell him I’m 55 and past all that childbearing business.)

Think about it—he’s giving me a tumbler! If you remember the pictures of my compost pile from last fall you will have some idea of my excitement. Heck, I’d have promised him two non-existent babies. And really, he just wants a straight review. So I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the largest box ever to land on my doorstep.

I’m also doing my sit-ups and push-ups; when Chris heard how tall I am (or am not, as my kids would no doubt remind me, and the number, in case you're wondering, is four foot nine) he was reluctant to consign one of these items to my care. After all, he likes this composter because at 6’5” he doesn’t have to break his back bending down to turn it. In an effort to reel him back in I made a few somewhat extravagant statements about being the strongest person under five feet tall he’s ever met, unless he hangs out with gymnasts or with my older sister, who does an hour of aerobics every day after riding her bike 12 miles home from work.

I also assured him that others in the household would help out with turning the thing if jumping off the garage roof onto one side of failed to set it spinning. I am nothing if not dedicated. My husband is totally on board with helping, as long as I try everything possible to turn it myself first: riding it like a see-saw, harnessing the cats up to a set of gears, putting a hook in one side attached to a rope thrown over a branch which I can haul on like a bell-rope to get the motion started, and of course, the leap from the garage roof. We believe in supporting each other. Family values all the way.

As a result of all this, I’m in training so that I’ll be able to turn my compost tumbler.

If that doesn’t strike you as odd, consider this: I have just finished the web’s longest, most drawn-out article on compost, and what am I offered? A composter. You’d think I’d be done with the stuff for a while, but the fates seem to have deemed otherwise.

It’s not just that Chris’s generous offer requires me to write about compost. Jane Perrone, the wonderful Jane of Horticultural, has asked me to write a guest post for the Guardian's Gardening Blog, and what is the subject? Compost. And what am I working on for Eric these days? Compost tea. It’s a good thing I fell in love with the topic and will gladly bend the ear of anyone who ventures within twenty yards.

Anyway, if I want a break from it, I can turn to the little article on three garden wishes that Fine Gardening has asked of me and some dozen other regional garden writers. It’s curiously difficult to come up with the “right” wishes. Of course, I always want more compost to lighten my heavy western clay. I could write about that…or not.

10 Responses to Non-compost-mentis

  1. So, apparently, I am not the shortest garden blogger at 5’2″. Still turning a compost tumbler is a chore. Hold on to the side and pull it towards you, then step back. Seriously, step back pretty fast.

  2. No, Deb, not the shortest; not by several long inches.
    I’ll keep your advice in mind. What kind of composter do you have?

  3. It’ll be interesting to see how you get on with the tumbler. I haven’t had great success with my one, compared to the regular compost bins. But then I don’t have your level of compost immersion and expertise! At least there is no chance of finding baby moles in the bottom of it, though…

  4. It isn’t mine, but I have to turn it. It is in the xeric garden in forney and I cannot remember its name brand. I just know that it likes to back spin. Really, step back.

  5. A) Steps. You can build a small stepper. Cinder blocks would do.
    B)Extend the turn handle.
    C) Forget about the tumbler and do like me and use an old metal trash can that I roll on its bottom edge and have my 5 year old stir it with a stick. He loves it because I roll and say “Poke it!”. Now my 3 year old follows saying: “I do it!, I do it!)

  6. I have the Mantis Twin tumbler and I couldn’t live without it. ANother goofy gift for my birthday a few years ago and I love it! I think you will find it fab too!

  7. I agree with David. Steps. I’m actually pretty tall (for a mouse) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of things out of my reach. Just get a solid setup and it will all be easy…

  8. Oh my yes. Take the free stuff. Figure out the details later…

  9. Stilts are the obvious solution (terribly good for the balance as well and probably more convenient than very, very, very high heels.

  10. Amanda— Baby moles—oh no. You don’t want them in your garden, but where do you find the heart to kill them? As for expertise, well, we’ll see.
    Okay, Deb, “xeric” I get, but “forney”? Please include a glossary next time you comment. Thank you. I shall step back.
    David–A) Brilliant!
    B) Also brilliant! Except that this model doesn’t have a handle. This is a grasp-the-upper-edge-of-the-barrel-itself-and-pull-down-sharply model.
    C) I’ve never had a trash can whose lid would stay on through such treatment. I know, bungee cords. I should try this too. What do you mean by “on its bottom edge?” I thought you just rolled it on its side.
    Don’t know the Mantis Twin, Heather, but I’m glad you like it. I’m quite psyched.
    Town Mouse–I’ll add this to my mantra: solid setup, solid setup, solid….
    Susan— Great attitude!
    Right, James. Helpful as always. Why not a unicycle while we’re out to break Kate’s neck?

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