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A compost tumbler is a fully sealed container which can be rotated to mix the composting materials. The sealed container also helps contain the heat generated by the composting process, thereby speeding the process of converting kitchen and yard waste into compost. Compost tumblers were invented to make composting simpler and faster.
Tumbling composters are not the same as compost bins. Compost bins are designed to be set on the ground, and most compost bins have open bottoms. While compost bins are the least expensive kind of composter, they have several disadvantages: it is difficult to get a pitchfork inside to turn the compost, heat is easily dissipated which slows the composting process, and rodents can easily burrow under the sides to gain access to the composting materials.
Speeds Up the Composting ProcessUnder ideal conditions, you can convert waste to finished home compost in as little as three weeks in a sealed compost tumbler. Outdoor temperature, time of year, and the correct balance of carbon and nitrogen matter are factors that influence the speed of composting. In colder, wet climates, it will take considerably longer than three weeks to complete the composting process.
Keeps Rodents, Raccoons, and Pets Out of CompostCompost tumblers are usually elevated off the ground and fashioned from sturdy, impervious materials that are impenetrable to animal visitors.
More Expensive Than Compost BinsTumbler-style composters are usually built of thicker materials to hold wet, heavy composting materials. This is not an issue with bin-style composters because the bins are open-bottomed and do not need to support any weight. Tumbler-style composters also have support legs or bases with rollers which make them more expensive to manufacture.
With the popularity of gardening and the trend in home vegetable gardening, new designs are available with various features to improve the composting process and experience. Here is a review of the basic designs.
The EZ Compost Wizard made from recycled plastic (pictured above) uses a simple method to deliver: air a pattern of holes drilled through the compost ends. Sometimes they need clearing with a thin stick to free the holes of gunk.
The dual bin design takes a different approach to the continuous-use composter concept, Two bins are set side-by-side into a single rotating drum. Although each bin is a little smaller than other model composters, the thickly insulated compartments conserve the heat generating by the decaying matter, and this greatly speeds the process. This design also allows you to add food waste to one chamber while the other is composting. The sides have screened openings which provide aeration to each chamber.
Older models of dual-bin compost tumblers had a single door covering both chambers. Newer models have separate doors for each chamber. This is an improvement because you can rotate the drum directly over a wheelbarrow or bucket, and tip the finished compost in.
The quality of the door hinges is important in this design. One brand (which we do not sell) has cheap hinges which compromises the functionality. Look also for a steel frame, which provides added durability for a long tumbler life.
The 7.5 cubic foot models are practical for a family of four. If your family is larger, or if you have a small garden or yard, then the 9.5 cu ft model will be more suitable. For large families, schools, restaurants or people with vegetable gardens or big lawns, the larger models such as the 12 cubic foot EZ Compost Wizard (a tumbler) or the 15 cubic foot Aerobin (a standing bin) are appropriate.
The axis is the center of spin, and composters which have the materials closer to the center axis (horizontally mounted) are easier to spin. However, composters which have the materials further from the central axis may be harder to spin when full, but the contents are better mixed when the drum is rotated. Both designs work; it is up to user preference.
It seems logical that by locating your composter in direct sunlight, the materials inside will be warmer and this will speed the composting process. However, this is not necessarily the best advice. If your composter is made of plastic, even thick-walled heavy duty composters, we recommend locating it in shade or partial sunlight. This is because the hot sun can distort the plastic and the lid may not screw on easily, if at all. Also, some people have noted that the color of the plastic may become faded or blotchy after prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. If you are using your composter properly, with a fairly balanced mix of carbon and nitrogen, the sealed unit will generate enough heat for effective composting.
Be sure to set your composter on level, solid ground. Blocks or patio stones may be used if necessary. The tumbler will spin easier when the axis is horizontal and the weight is evenly distributed. Older gardeners, and people with limited strength, may find turning a full composter difficult. In these cases, we suggest only filling the composter 2/3 full and then letting the batch finish.
This is a very common condition, especially during winter in colder regions of the country. The secret to a healthy compost pile is to maintain a working balance between carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. (See our Composting page for more information.) In winter, we keep adding food or kitchen scraps and other moist nitrogen-rich materials (e.g. grass clippings), but dry leaves and other dry materials are not as readily available. Mixing in dry carbon-rich materials will help restore a wet compost pile. To learn more, read our article How to fix a soggy compost pile.
Once your composter is as full as you want it to be, i.e. full to the point where it is still easy to spin, stop adding fresh materials until the current batch is done and the finished compost can be emptied. This may be a period of two to three weeks. During this time, fresh materials for the compost can be stored in a garbage can or similar container. This is not an issue with dual-bin or continuous composters.
The best place to buy compost tumblers is online. This is because local stores which may sell compost tumblers can only afford to keep one or two models in stock. And staff at these stores may have limited or no experience with composting, and therefore unable to give you advice.
The cost of shipping is a factor in buying online, and this is partly offset by no taxes added to the purchase. Some composters are offered with free shipping, which is ideal if you are in the market for a new composter.
There is a lot of choice when it comes to compost tumblers. Others rotate on a base. Some rotate around a central axle. Still more are cranked with a handle. All suggest that they give you compost more easily and in less time than a bin which sounds very attractive. So, is a tumbler something that you should consider
In 2011 Which Gardening magazine in the UK compared turning five well-filled tumblers three times a week with turning a traditional compost heap of the same volume once a week (usually done with a garden fork or spade). Surprisingly they found that, while the heap took around ten weeks, tumblers actually took a month longer to create usable compost.
A decent tumbler makes turning easier, but if you want compost quickly and are happy to do the work, it appears that you might as well stick with a standard compost heap or bin, as long as it's easy to access the compost to turn it. It's considerably cheaper and gives you more exercise.
There's also undoubtedly a difference between the composts from a heap and a tumbler. It's inevitable because the tumbler doesn't contain worms. Nor can you add worms, because when the temperature rises they can't escape and will die. So, all the good work that worms do in churning material through their guts and adding nutrients is lacking.
By far, the most common tumbler style is a horizontally-mounted barrel design. Some are round, some have multiple sides. Many have molded or indented handholds to use for turning the compost, although a few rare ones have special handles. Some rest on a specialized base, and others are mounted on a center post which runs from the ends straight through the entire length of the composter. These typically have an access hatch on one or more sides.
Brown waste is dried and occasionally material from plants, and includes such things as wood chips or pellets, cardboard, old newspaper, dried leaves, and the like. Brown waste tends to be carbon-rich and absorbent, and provides bulk to your finished compost.
When starting a compost, you can expect the process to take several months before it's initially ready to use, she adds. Most compost piles can be started with fruit scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and a small amount of soil or compost starter. While most of the work of composting is done naturally over time, you should still check on your compost to ensure its in a well-aerated, moist, and and warm environment.
You can put all kinds of food scraps into a composter, such as apple cores, banana peels, vegetable skins, coffee grounds, eggshells, and bread. However, animal products, such as meat, dairy, and bones, generally aren't recommended for composting because they can harbor pathogens and attract pests.
You also can add grass clippings, leaves, wood shavings, hay, animal manure, and other yard waste, as well as paper towels, cardboard, and shredded newspaper. \"You should avoid grease and oils as they can cause the compost to become waterlogged,\" says Phillips. \"Anything containing chemicals, such as treated wood and synthetic fertilizers, should also not be added to the compost.\" You should also avoid adding weeds to your pile, if your home regularly faces high temperatures, as they can regrow in your pile.
Your compost pile does not have to be directly on the ground to effectively decompose. Several of the compost bins we've included in this roundup are direct-to-soil in method, meaning they lack a bottom and lid, but they are not in any way \"more effective\" than closed bins. It should be noted that direct to soil composting is when you mix kitchen scraps directly into the soil in a hole in your garden beds. This results in a nutrient-rich soil blend, says Phillips. However, compost bins that are elevated off the ground are a great option, if you don't have the time to bury kitchen scraps often. If you aren't ready to purchase a compost bin, you can also make a DIY compost bin out of containers or materials you already have in your home. 59ce067264