If you take recycling seriously and you have a big garden, it makes sense that you would want to recycle food waste and make compost to feed your plants. With the different types of compost bins available on the market, you will definitely find one to suit your particular needs. It does take some work and discipline to produce compost, you would have to diligently add suitable kitchen waste and soil or some type of brown material to the bin and stir or turn the container regularly until the compost is ready to be placed in your garden. Depending on the composition of the mixture, making compost could take more than 3 – 6 weeks, but it is well worth the effort and your plants will thank you for it.

How to choose the best Compost Bin

What type of compost bin do you want?

Most of the compost bins available are either plastic or some type of metal. Metal is considered to be more durable and is a better choice especially if you have a rat problem. To get the most out of your compost tumbler, make sure that it sits way off the ground and that it has small aeration holes so that rodents cannot get into it. If you have a back problem, choose a compost tumbler that has a handle and is easy to turn.

The more expensive types of compost bins have geared cogs for turning in comparison to cheaper models that have a central axle which makes it heavy and difficult to turn. Apart from the fact that the plastic models can crack easily, metal tumblers will allow you to add a little bit of the forbidden types of leftovers, like meat and fish, as the high temperatures will break them down and vermin will not be a problem.

Choosing the right size

What size you choose will depend on your space, and how much composting you intend to do. A larger tumbler will produce more compost at a quicker pace than a small one due to the extra aeration. Because it is impossible to fill the bin all at once, the food waste will start breaking down at different times and not ferment equally. That is why some of the models come with two compartments, this allows you to fill up the one side and start the process while filling up the second. This way you will have staggered production of compost at a quicker pace.

Sizes are usually measured in gallons or litres, when you buy one make sure that you get the one that is the right size for you. Obviously the larger your garden the larger you can go. Weight is also a consideration when deciding what size to buy, if it gets to heavy you will have a problem turning the tumbler, and this has to be done on a regular basis. If your space is limited consider whether you can place the tumbler on concrete, if the unit leaks you will be faced with a big mess, so it is best to find one that you can place a container underneath to collect the brown liquid that might seep out, this is said to be great food for your plants.

Filling and emptying out the Compost Bin

One of the biggest complaints in reviews is the lid that closes the bins. Make sure it fits well and is easy to open and close as you will be doing this often. Try to get one that has some type of handle so that you do not have to actually touch the sides of the spinner, as this can get messy. Make sure that the lid fits securely so you do not have to contend with accidental spillage.

One of the biggest problems when emptying the bin is whether you can maneuver a wheelbarrow under it to collect the compost. A lot of the models do not offer this luxury and you would have to lay down a large piece of plastic to collect the compost as you topple it out of the container.

The difference between Compost Bins and a Tumbler

The main difference between the traditional compost heap and the spinners, is the ease that a tumbler offers when mixing the mixture. According to the experts, the only downfall that a spinner or tumbler has is that it does not contain worms which are essential for nutrients in the compost. In closed metal or plastic turners worms will not survive due to the excessive heat that accumulates. In turners the compost is created by bacteria and fungi, and the high heat kills off weed seeds and diseased spores. The compost from a tumbler is looser than the traditional bin that needs to be turned with a garden pick or fork.

A tumbler also reduces anaerobic decomposition which leads to a sludge and an awful smell. This occurs when you add large quantities of grass clippings or damp leaves, in a heap it will definitely start to smell, in a tumbler because of the aeration, the problem is reduced substantially.  A tumbler always has drainage holes to permit excess liquid to escape. Collect this liquid as it is rich in nitrogen and can be fed to your plants.  There are pros and cons to both types of compost bins, but the compost spinner or tumbler is definitely the easier one to use and the quickest to get results.

How long does it take to get usable compost?

If you want to produce compost in a hurry, then you will have to follow instructions that come with some of the compost tumblers. It is very important to make sure that you have the right balance of carbon and nitrogen in order for the process to be escalated. There are some models that have detailed instructions on how to get the best results in the shortest of time. In this case you will have to carefully measure what you put into the bins and follow instructions.

There is a way to tell if your compost is not balanced. Strong odors will help you judge what needs to be added. If the compost smells like ammonia, the nitrogen content is too much and you would need to add more greens, like leaves. A musty smell will tell you that you have too much moisture and this is an indication that you will need to add some dry leaves. Keep your compost tumbler in a sunny spot to ensure that the temperature rises enough in order to keep the compost dry and escalate the curing process.

Assembling the Compost Turners

For those who are not good at putting stuff together, it is advisable to check how much assembling the compost turner will need. Some of the units reviewed came with a large amount of bolts and screws and instructions on how to put it together. If this is not your forte then we suggest you purchase one that is already assembled, or requires very little work to get it operating.

It is also worth noting that when your purchase arrives, the best procedure would be to check if all the parts are included in the packaging before starting to assemble. There have been circumstances where screws and parts have been missing or some parts have been broken on arrival. In this case you might have to send your purchase back to the supplier. Once you have everything you need, read the instructions very well before starting to assemble. If the instructions are not too clear, there might be a video available online for you to watch.

5 Best Compost Tumblers

1. Spin Bin Composter 60 gal. Large Capacity Black Barrel Style Tumbler Compost Bin

Made by Spin Bin this compost barrel has a capacity of 60 gallons and is made with tough recycled plastic. This model is made in the USA and has a high approval rating from members of the Home Gardening Club. The Spin Bin is easy to assemble and to use. The barrel style bin can be opened from both sides for filling and is simple to spin. The barrel comes with great ventilation and has a ribbed interior which aids in the mixing and aerating of your compost.

The lids on either side of the barrel grip well for opening and closing which is a great asset as it will keep rats and other pests away. The exterior of the barrel is a dark brown which absorbs the heat promoting faster composting in the chamber. The unit comes with 4 ports that will allow you to insert a thermometer to check the internal temperature without getting your hands dirty, and the sturdy powder coated legs hold the barrel off the ground which makes it easier to spin. The US made Spin Bin comes with a 2 year manufacturer’s guarantee.

Pros

  • 60 gallon capacity
  • Dark colour promotes heat
  • Tough recycled plastic
  • Good aeration
  • Sturdy powder coated legs
  • Guarantee

Cons

  • Lids should have a handle
  • Bin gets very heavy
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2. Yimby Tumbler Composter, Color Black

The Yimby Tumbler comes with 2 composting chambers which allows you to start curing your kitchen and garden waste when the first chamber is full. This will offer a staggered production of compost which is better than using one large bin. By the time you fill up a huge bin, the first lot of waste has already started to ferment and this could give your compost an uneven texture. Made with tough recycled plastic, the Yimby tumbler has a 37 gallon capacity. The steel frame offers durability and the adjustable vents make it easy to aerate the chambers as you see fit.

Inside the chambers there are deep fins that come into contact with the compost to help break it down. This model is very easy to use, once you have filled up the chamber, simple close the lid securely and turn it a few times every couple of days. The polypropylene exterior will not fade in direct sunlight and the galvanized steel frame is rust proof. The sliding door closes securely and the handle that is built in enables you to turn the chambers with ease. The Yimby Tumbler comes in pieces and needs to be assembled.

Pros

  • Double chamber
  • Durable recycled plastic
  • Galvanized steel frame
  • 37 gallon capacity
  • Adjustable vents

Cons

  • Difficult to assemble
  • Can leak excessively
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3. Good Ideas CW-2X Compost Wizard Dueling Tumbler

The Good Ideas CW-2X Compost Wizard comes with 2 chambers which will allow you to start the process with the first one that is filed independently with no need to wait until both chambers are full. This is ideal as you will produce staggered production of compost which will be evenly cured and a better texture. Each chamber has a 3.5 cubic foot capacity and comes with an 8 inch screwing lid that seals and secures the chambers shut. Made with recycled BPA free materials, the Compost Wizard is also safe for children and pets.

The base of the Compost Wizard has a container with wheels to collect excess liquid that drains from the compartments. This container can hold up to 5 gallons of compost tea which is beneficial as plant food to add to your garden. The whole unit comes in black which makes it absorb more heat from the sun, and the rugged design is also waterproof. The Compost Wizard has deep molded handles on the chambers that make turning easier. This unit comes fully assembled and with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros

  • Double chambers
  • Rugged construction
  • Secure Lids
  • Molded handles
  • Container to collect compost tea
  • Fully assembled
  • Warranty

Cons

  • Opening to narrow to remove compost easily
  • Rain water gets into the container
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4. Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler, Black, 80-Gallon

The Lifetime 60058 is a huge compost tumbler with up to 80 gallons capacity. Made out of dense polyethylene plastic and powder coated steel, the double walled panels allow for absorption of heat which facilitates the process of decomposition. Fitted with an axis the tumbler is balanced and easy to spin. The Lifetime tumbler has internal bars that helps aerate and mix the compost. During filling the lids can be removed and replaced with the large spring loaded pin that locks into place, preventing accidental spillage.

The barrel design can easily be tipped over a wheel barrow for emptying the compost when it is done. The tumbler is black which allows for maximum heat absorption that will speed up the process. Unfortunately this model does need to be assembled and from reviews read, it can be a daunting task, unless you are experienced in this type of construction. The package does come with a how to compost DVD, but the instructions on how to assemble can be a bit confusing.

Pros

  • Large capacity
  • Sturdy construction
  • Twist and seal Lids
  • Easy to spin
  • Large openings for easy removal

Cons

  • Difficult to assemble
  • Poor Instructions
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5. Good Ideas EZCJR-BLK 7-Cubic-Foot Compost Wizard Jr.

The Good Ideas Compost Wizard Junior is a smaller version of the double chamber model. Made out of recycled polyethylene which is BPA free, this model comes with one chamber which has a 7 cubic foot capacity. The compost wizard is in black for maximum heat absorption which will quicken the fermentation process. This unit comes with recessed handles which makes it easy to spin and the base has wheels for easy maneuverability.

This rugged, weatherproof design is durable and very efficient with deep handles which are recessed to allow easy spinning. Made in the USA this model is very popular as a small compost tumbler which is suitable for most small gardens. The 12 inch lid closes securely and the aeration holes ensure that the mixture received enough oxygen. The junior compost wizard comes fully assemble which can be a blessing, especially if you find it difficult to put things together.

Pros

  • Recycled plastic
  • Weatherproof
  • Easy to assemble
  • Low maintenance
  • 12 inch lid secure
  • Recessed handles

Cons

  • Rain water accumulates in base
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Our Top Pick for the Best Compost Tumbler

Good Ideas CW-2X Compost Wizard Dueling Tumbler

This is one of the best 2 chamber compost tumblers as it comes mostly assembled and you do not have to be a genius to put it together. The staggered production of compost is a plus and the BPA free materials, this unit is constructed from, make it safe for children and pets. The container at the bottom that collects the compost tea is really useful and beneficial for your plants. The rugged design also makes it weatherproof and the compost wizard comes with a 1 year guarantee.

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