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Compost Tumbler

Updated on January 17, 2011

A compost tumbler is a device that helps rotate the organic waste you are trying to turn into compost. They can be large or small. To start composting with your compost tumbler place a mixture of green waste and moist brown waste so that the compost tumbler is partially full. Then rotate the compost tumbler every day or so. This allows the material to mix together, which helps with the aeration of the organic material. If you fill the compost tumbler too much the organic material will not mix, which will hinder the aeration, which will slow down the decomposition of the material. Under ideal conditions it should take approximately three weeks for material to decompose in a compost tumbler.

Compost tumblers are great to use in areas where bylaws restrict open composting or if you are concerned about pests. The tumbler is enclosed and off the ground so it pests cannot get into it. Compost tumblers will be able to retain moisture better than compost bins. Be sure to check the moisture level of your compost tumbler. If the material is too moist leave the door open for a little bit to allow some of the material to dry. Then close the door and continue to rotate your compost tumbler.

A compost tumbler is ideal for someone who would like to compost but does not have the time to maintain the composter.  A compost bin would require you to manually turn and mix your compost material to encourage aeration.  Remember aeration is very important to successful composting.  Some people find mixing their compost bin manually to be a smelly, dirty and time consuming chore.  With a compost tumbler they are designed to contain the material behind a locked door and are built to rotate the device very easily.  It is so easy to use that some children enjoy playing.  They feel they are doing their part to reducing the amount of garbage in the land fills. 

Now a compost tumbler has its advantages, but one draw back is that it doesn’t have the same capacity that a compost bin would have. However, you need to weigh in the timing. While a compost bin can hold more material, it takes about one month for material to be ready. While a compost tumbler would take approximately two weeks. You need to assess the timing and your needs to pick the composter that is right for you.

With a compost tumbler you need to realize that you cannot continuously add material. Each time you add new material to the compost tumbler you reset the clock for when the compost will be ready to use. With a bin you can mix and remove as your material is ready. However, one way families get around this is they get two small compost tumblers and fill one and let the material to start decomposing. While the material in the first compost tumbler is decomposing the family will start to fill up the second compost tumbler. This way they are not constantly resetting the clock and approximately every two weeks the family has rich compost to use in their garden.

Hopefully this gives you enough information on a Compost Tumbler. If you wanted more information on composting check out Composting Made Easy and Compost Bins.


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    • richaloe profile image

      richaloe 5 years ago from Oxford UK

      I have never used one of these but it does sound interesting. Thank you.