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Tumbler Compost Bin: Easy way to start a do-it-yourself composting project

Updated on July 5, 2011

Composting is the science of recycling organic waste from your yard and home into fertlizers to grow your garden.  And it's easier than you think.  But it takes time, up to 6 months or more if you live in a dry area.  Nevertheless, composting makes a great addition to your gardening hobby, provided that you have the space in your yard. 

My earliest recollection of composting was in the Philippines whenever I visited my grandparents in their small farm.  I remember an area that was off limits to the kids because it smelled and was unclean.  And it was for my grandfather making his own fertilizer.  More recently, I attended a workshop in a local library that gave out tips on how to begin composting for my own yard.

Do Your Own Composting

The steps to do your own composting are surprisingly simple.  Basically, what you're doing is letting the "brown" waste rot away with the "green" waste over time.  At the end of the rotting-away period, you'll have nutrient-rich organic fertilizer that you can mix with your garden soil for plants, flowers, trees, and grass.  It will look like soil, dark and crumbly.

The steps boil down to 3 things:

  1. Pick a spot
  2. Pick a compost holder or bin
  3. "Cook" the compost for the next few weeks

Compost.  Source: Flickr, normanack
Compost. Source: Flickr, normanack

1) Picking a spot

Things to keep in mind:

  • Choose your compost area out of direct sunlight to minimize drying of the composting waste.
  • Sometimes, dryness cannot be avoided, so make sure there is access to water. You must moisten the composting waste if it's becoming too dry. This can be done by hosing it with water.
  • Make sure there is room for you to work. That really depends on the size and type of the composting bin or holder that you chose.

2) Selecting a compost storage

There are plenty to choose from such as a simple holding unit, a rotating / tumbling bin, wire-mesh unit, etc. And they can be bought from Home Depot, WalMart, eBay or any other retailer.

Or you can build your own compost bin for a complete do-it-yourself project.

Furthermore, you can also just do open air composting, which was what my grandfather was doing in his farm. No container needed. Just composting heaps under the trees and out of sunlight. Just keep in mind that your neighbors may not approve of this method.

Why a Tumbler Compost Bin

When choosing a composting storage, the instructor recommended a tumbler compost bin. Why? Because it is easier for most garden variety users.

The composting heap of waste needs to be mixed and turned every so often to decompose properly. You can do this by using a stick or a regular garden rake.

But tumber compost bins are specifically designed and built for mixing the compost without having to "touch" them, either with a stick or (ewww) gloved hands.

3) Cooking the Compost

From your own home and backyard, the ingredients are readily available:

  • "green" organic waste are moist items like fresh grass clippings, coffee grounds, and scraps from fruits and vegetables;
  • "brown" organic waste are items such as dried leaves, dried wood, and dead plants;
  • air and water

Best mixture is two parts "green" for every one part "brown."

Best to chop larger waste into pieces such as tree trunks and twigs. Same with natural fiber shirts and cloth. These materials can rot away faster in small sizes.

Best to mix and turn the pile occassionally. Use a stick, a rake, or gloved hands if you must. This step can be simpler and be much more convenient as a daily task through the use of a tumbler compost bin. The more often you turn, the quicker the waste will decompose.

Add water if your pile becomes too dry. Your pile should be moist but not soaking. Mix water evenly throughout the heap.

When the waste becomes dark and crumbly, you have compost to mix with garden soil.

Length of time depends on your area, the spot you choose, and how often you mix and turn the compost. This is not something done over night or in a matter of days. It's a long term project.


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    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 5 years ago

      Good introduction to make compost. I made my own compost too in my garden. Just dig a hole and throw the kitchen scrab (plant based, uncooked) into the hole and cover it up.

      I think those tumbler compost bin will save a lot of my energy in digging the hole. :) Voted up !

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      This is a great idea for newbies and for long time grden enthusiasts. I'm an advocate of creating one's own fertilizer and compost. Here you can recycle and reduce waste. voted up.