Composting at home is a great way to reduce the amount of waste that gets sent to landfill and also provide your garden with all the nutrition it needs to thrive. There are many different kinds of composting (we’re a big fan of worm farming ourselves) each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Compost tumblers are great for people with limited space, yet who still want to recycle their organic scraps. Read on to learn about how they work, and which products we recommend.
See Also: Best Worm Farm Buyers Guide – 2022
Best Compost Tumblers: Our Recommendations
Below you’ll find our top recommendations for the best compost tumblers on the market.
FCMP Compost Tumbler: Best Overall
The FCMP Outdoor compost tumbler is a durable tumbler with two separate chambers and great aeration features. The dual chambers mean you can harvest one lot of compost while another lot finishes off. This means you get a more consistent supply of compost for your garden. Its heavy-duty construction means it will withstand the elements, and even a bit of punishment. The plastic is BPA free, UV inhibited (meaning it won’t degrade in the sun) and made from recycled polypropylene. The steel frame is even corrosion resistant to prevent it rusting and improve longevity.
It’s a great composter that is easy to use but does require some assembly. Fortunately, the easy-to-follow instructions make putting it together a simpler task than it may seem at first. We recommend you take your time with the construction and don’t just rush in to avoid any assembly-induced frustration. Once fully assembled, it stands 36″ high, 25″ wide and 22″ deep. Due to its simple, yet effective design, heavy durability and convenient size, it takes our number one spot for the best overall compost tumbler.
Vivosun Compost Tumbler: Best for Aeration
Vivosun’s 43 gallon outdoor compost tumbler is a great-priced composter that produces high-grade compost quickly. Similar to the FCMP outdoor tumbler, it contains dual chambers to allow two separate batches to be composted at the same time. It’s also extremely durable and keeps nasty pests out of your compost pile. The internal fins and adjustable air vents allow for great aeration control, which results in high-quality compost in as little as two weeks. They also help break up the compost to prevent it from clumping.
The one big downside is that this compost tumbler is not the easiest to assemble. We recommend recruiting a second person to help you build it as this will make the job much easier. There are some 50+ screws that are needed to secure the plastic tumbler together which can be quite tedious. Just follow the instructions as best you can or check out a video online to help you. Once fully assembled, the composter stands at 36″ high, 26″ long, and 23″ wide.
Jora Composter JK270: Best Heavy Duty Compost Tumbler
The Jora outdoor composter is a large, well-built, and stable compost tumbler for those looking to produce large amounts of compost in their backyard. It comes in three different sizes; 33, 70 or a 106 gallon drum, meaning you’re bound to find one that will suit your composting needs. It contains dual chambers, both of which are well-insulated meaning that higher temperatures (greater than 160F) are achievable in a shorter amount of time. It has side vents that assist in delivering oxygen into the compost, all whilst boasting a robust, heavy duty design for longevity.
The major downside to this particular composter is the price. Whilst it comes in three different sizes, all with varying price tags, for a similarly sized composter around 40 gallons you could save a lot of money in choosing a plastic model. However, for those of you looking for a strong, quality composter, you can’t look past the Jora composter. What you’re getting is a composter that is built to last, produces great compost, and is strong enough to keep pests such as rodents from getting inside.
Miracle-Gro Small Composter: Best Small Compost Tumbler
Unlike some of the other composters mentioned here, the Miracle-Gro single chamber tumbler can fit just about anywhere. If you live in a small apartment, or just don’t have the space for a larger dual chamber composter, then this little guy is for you. It comes in either an 18.5 or 27.7 gallon size, complete with assembly instructions and a pair of multi-purpose gardening gloves. Being smaller, it also comes with a pretty reasonable price tag. This is a great plus for anyone who is new to composting and wants to try it out as a hobby without having to commit to a large, bulky composting system.
Obviously, this comes at a cost of not being able to produce as much compost as a larger bin. Having said that though, it’s easy to use and is great for smaller families.
What is a Compost Tumbler and How Do They Work?
A compost tumbler is an enclosed container that you can rotate or spin around. They’re built to have the container mounted to a stand and sitting off the ground. Rotating or ‘tumbling’ the materials helps to mix all the composting materials together. By using an enclosed container, you can contain the heat that is generated by your compost piles, which keeps the composting process at a high temperature and speeds up the process of creating compost.
Composting tumblers take out the effort and difficulty of turning piles over by hand and can make composting easier and more accessible to people.
What are the Advantages of Using Compost Tumblers?
Compost tumblers have many advantages over traditional compost piles. Here are just some of them:
Easy to Turn/Mix
Compost tumblers make turning over your compost pile much easier. Rather than having to get in with a shovel or a garden fork to physically lift and turn your materials, tumblers use gravity to mix everything. All you need to do is turn the container around so that the bottom end is at the top.
By using a closed container for your composting, you can also increase the heat of the process, which speeds up the composting. Tumblers take this the next step by removing the need to lift and turn the material, which removes the risk of exposing the warm inner sections to the cold external air. This increases the ability of the pile to retain heat further, and therefore means quicker composting.
Using enclosed containers also helps keep control of any odors that compost piles can get. No smell can also make the containers less attractive to pests, and by placing them off the ground, tumblers also remove a lot of the potential way pests can get into your containers.
But nothing is ever perfect…
Disadvantages of Using Compost Tumblers
Below are some of the disadvantages you may find in choosing to use a compost tumbler over a traditional compost pile:
Compost Tumblers are Expensive
Compost tumblers are expensive, at least compared to normal containers, or a simple compost pile. They are made of much more robust materials to handle the weight of the compost material and have moving parts that will require some maintenance over their lifetime. A traditional compost pile really only needs a structure to support it on the ground and help it hold its shape. The compost pile can therefore grow to be much larger – great for those with big yards!
Can’t Compost As Much…
Whilst they make composting more convenient, compost tumblers also limit how much you can compost. This is because the containers can only hold so much material before they won’t tumble and mix. You can’t just throw every bit of green waste you have laying around into them, like you can with a traditional pile.
You could argue though that whilst you can’t compost as much at once, because the process is much quicker, you can probably compost more overall in the same period of time using a tumbler. A benefit of this is that you’ll get a consistent supply of compost to use in your garden. This sounds great, but there is such a thing as over-composting gardens, so it may be more of a curse than a blessing.
How to Use the Compost from Tumblers
You use the compost you harvest from your tumblers the exact same way you would use any other composted product. Most tumblers will have a section you can remove when it’s time to harvest, and you can just turn it straight upside down so the compost falls onto the ground or into a wheelbarrow.
You can then sprinkle your compost around trees and shrubs, incorporate it into garden beds, or scatter it onto your lawn. The compost will act as a good plant fertilizer and soil conditioner, and your plants should be very happy with the nutrient boost.
It’s important to remember though to wear safety equipment when using any composted material. At a minimum, you should wear gloves, eye protection, and a mask or cover around your nose and mouth. Compost has lots of micro-organisms inside it that are great for our gardens but are definitely not good for our lungs, eyes, or cuts.
How to Select a Compost Tumbler?
When it comes to selecting the right compost tumbler for you, there are three things you need to consider.
How much are you willing to spend on a tumbler? They can be quite expensive compared to other composting containers and different types of tumblers. They may also have a range of different features, which will be reflected in their price. Consider firstly if you need to buy a tumbler, then decide what features you want. Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for, then consider how much you’re comfortable spending.
How much composting are you really going to be doing? How big of an area do you have to place the container? How much weight are you comfortable turning over by yourself?
There’s no point buying the biggest tumbler you can if you’re only going to turn over a few loads of grass clippings through summer. Similarly, you may not want one that’s going to take up most of your courtyard garden. It’s also no use filling up a 50 gallon container with green waste if you can’t physically lift the container to turn it over.
Have an honest think about how much composting you actually want to do, and how much of your outdoor space you want to surrender and make a purchase accordingly.
Will your tumbler be outside in the elements all year round, or will it sit in a protected corner on your balcony? Do you plan to shovel in loads of manure, grass clippings, and sawdust, or just throw a few vegetable scraps in each evening?
You can get durable heavy-duty tumblers made of stronger materials and withstand the elements and a few stray hits from tools. There are compact, lightweight tumblers that sit quaintly on your balcony, but are much more easily also get compact, lightweight tumblers that sit quaintly on your balcony, but are much more easily get damaged.
Both types are perfectly fine in their own rights, but make sure you select the type that suits how much punishment it will get, otherwise you might waste your money on going over the top on what you need, or having to constantly replace them.
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