Friday, 3 March 2017

My new YOLO products

The past few months I've been kept quite busy developing a new product - the YOLO Compost Tumbler.

Although my vegetable gardening efforts have been very poor for the past three years, I've become even more obsessive about recycling. The four bins in our kitchen are appropriately labelled (trash, plastics, paper, glass & cans) so that even guests know where to put their waste.

The only recycling element that I've had a problem with is compost. Outside our kitchen I've got an old rubbish bin, into which we tossed veggie cuttings while we were trying to figure out what to do with creating an effective compost pile.

Out back in the yard, tucked behind the outbuilding, are two compost piles. The first is a stash of leaves from last autumn that I didn't want to put out with the trash (and I was forming composting ideas) and the second is a heap on to which we pile our odd plant trimmings and grass cuttings each week.

Late last year we were trawling the web looking for compost ideas. Should we construct something smart for our compost pile with a removable tray underneath to be able to extract compost without needing to dig up the whole heap? While searching, we stumbled across compost tumblers. It immediately caught Celliers' eye as something we could make, especially as they are not readily available in South Africa. As a bonus, we could get compost out of it within a few weeks of leaving the contents to mature; unlike our heap, which we never turn, and which takes a year or more to produce useable compost.

Now, many months later, I've got the first production compost tumblers in hand under my new company name of YOLO Colours.


Celliers is the brains behind the design and manufacturing. This first one is a 45-litre shell and it comes in three colours and as a single or double unit. The focus for this unit is primarily on apartments and townhouses and homes with small gardens.

For me, composting is not really about making compost to use in your garden; it is about dealing with organic waste and reducing what I send to landfill. I just can't bring myself to put an apple core, potato peel or butternut skin in the trash.


The relatively small 45-litre volume is deceiving and while you may think you would fill it in few weeks, you won't (unless you add a lot of garden clippings, which is not the primary purpose of this 45l size). The level rises when you add new material and drops within a few days as it decomposes.

I have a pre-production test unit at home that I've been using for NINE WEEKS and it is less than half full. At one stage it was up to about 3/4 after adding leaves that I'd saved from last year. It dropped within a few days as the material began to decompose.

How does it work? It is really simple. I have a tub in my kitchen into which I put my veggie cuttings and the like. Every two or three days - depending on how much there is - I toss it into my tumbler. Each time I open the lid, fresh air (oxygen) is introduced. I then close the lid and tumble the contents a few times so that the new material is incorporated and properly mixed with the old material. I always open the lid again to see what is happening inside (I also stare at it for a while) and then close it again and leave it until the next day or two when I'm ready to add new material again.

We don't buy pre-cut & peeled packaged veggies so I have a good amount of organic waste.


The trick with successful compost is keeping an eye on the carbon:nitrogen ratio of the contents. Too much green, wet, nitrogen-rich material and you'll have a wet and smelly mush. Too much carbon-rich, dry, brown material and it will be too dry and unappealing to the composting microbes. I'm mostly using egg trays and crushed egg shells for my 'brown' with vacuum-cleaner bag contents and autumn leaves here and there.


What we've done is to include an informative graphic on the side of every YOLO Compost Tumbler that tells you what you can put into it. There is a second graphic that offers tips - like how to check whether your compost is too wet or too dry and how to tell whether your compost is ready.

The past two months have been interesting as I've been observing and learning from my own compost tumbling experience. I've developed tricks like leaving the peels from a whole watermelon out in the sun to dry out a bit before tossing them in. As the tumbler is a closed bin, moisture is retained so I'm very cautious about the wetness of the material that I throw in. How is this? Within a week I couldn't identify the watermelon peels in the tumbler!

While I've been happily playing with my YOLO Compost Tumbler and kitchen scraps, I still need to deal with the bin and my two compost piles out back. The piles can just sit for now but the bin... it is really yuck. I need a sunny day to shovel it out, let it dry (it has been rained on and it doesn't drain) and then throw the contents into a tumbler to properly mature with regular tumbling and aeration.


We've just got the small tumbler into production and Celliers is still busy with the medium (100-litre) and large (200-litre) designs and moulds. The medium will be better for all of my grass cuttings and autumn leaves. Our garden isn't big enough to warrant the large; but my mom's is.

This is a high-quality product. Steel, powder-coated frame, galvanised steel hinges and latch, robust shell rotomoulded from UV-stabilised plastic and in funky colours.

Our aim is not that you'll use this for a year or two but for a decade or two (in semi-shade it will last far, far longer than if left in all-day full sun). There is enough cheap plastic junk in landfill and my YOLO products are definitely not those. YOLO is made to last.

This is what has been keeping me busy and out of trouble.

I'll be ready to start shipping YOLO Compost Tumblers out - and around South Africa - in the next 10 days or so. I'll let you know details then.

1 comment:

Russell Meyer said...

Brilliantly done. It looks simple, attractive and easy.
We have a large garden 2000 sqm and our attempt at a compost heap is mess.

I am most interested in the 200L design. Please keep me posted.
All the best, very nice product!