Mighty Compost Mixer

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This paint mixing wand attached to an electric drill can reduce a bucket of whole fruits and veggies to salsa consistency in just a couple of minutes!

When I discovered that the local co-op gave away their culled fruits and vegetables at the end of each day, I decided to pick up some to add to my compost piles to boost the nutrient levels of the finished product. The bags of scraps were filled with whole fruits and vegetables — mostly in good shape, but with a bruise or crack on one side.

Initially, my plan was to hand cut the produce into smaller pieces for easy incorporation and quick breakdown in the compost heap. This proved to be quite messy and tedious, and I soon realized that an industrial-sized blender would get the job done much quicker. However, the blender would cost hundreds of dollars, which I wasn’t prepared to part with.

I took a look around my garage and found exactly what I needed — a paint mixing wand for an electric drill. The short mixing paddle I have has a 2-foot steel shaft with double-helical steel blades on the end, and can be purchased at Harbor Freight for about $3 (800-444-3353). When new, the blade edges are blunt. However, the leading edges can be sharpened with a grinder or a metal file to create a double-bladed, spiral-wand blender attachment for an electric drill.

I couldn’t believe how effective the tool was the first time I tried it. I filled a 5-gallon bucket about three-fourths full of whole fruits and vegetables, and reduced it all to salsa consistency in about two minutes. The blade indiscriminately chopped everything that went into the bucket, including the tough rinds, peels and stems that usually take a while to break down in the compost pile.

Michael Torres
Pensacola, Florida