Thanks, Tweva. I thought about the issue of removing the zinc coating by drilling, but hadn’t thought about the heat. Here in the South, that might be an issue through the summer. But if we move into a final (hopefully) retirement home with very little yard space, that may still be a great option for growing our own.
What I particularly like is your compost idea. Somehow, I’ve never seen the method discussed before that you use, filling one tank half full of compost ingredients, then filling it and “literally let[ting] it rot.” That certainly would work quicker, and would likely reduce the number of times the material would have to be transferred to create good mixing. I’m gathering that the “drowning” of everything doesn’t significantly kill off all the bacteria we want to break down the components into a nice usable compost. I may just try that!
As for measuring, I’ve been fortunate that a local stone and dirt facility has a “mulch planter mix” for sale that they say is very high quality (i.e. no large contamination – just good ingredients). I’ve gotten it for years from the same supplier, and been extremely pleased with it. So I just measure my containers (whether they’re raised ground beds, containers, or whatever), and do the conversion math to get cubic yards. I have that dumped at the end of our driveway near the gate, and then just transport it by wheelbarrow to the gardens not very far away. Yes, it’s a bit of work to move it, but the price savings over bagged manure and soil makes it all worth it (plus, it’s good exercise for an old[er] man – LOL!). What we get is so good that I can’t use it right away most year – it’s still “cooking” for a few days after delivery. Once the pile cools off, I move it to the gardens.