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Compost Tumblers Great For Small Spaces and Tidy Gardeners

July 8, 2008

I purchased this Tumbleweed Composter from Clean Air Gardening and I love it. The tumbler was expensive but worth every penny, and not to mention my time in the garden. The roll up your sleeves and grab a pitchfork method just didn’t appeal to me. I spend enough energy weeding, mulching, digging, watering, transplanting, and pruning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against building your bin structure from scratch or buying a cheaper, static bin. I just don’t have the time or the space.

Why A Compost Tumbler?

I have a descent size yard (80 by 90 feet) with established perennial an vegetable beds, so ripping out my plants to build a 3-bin composting system was not an option. I also didn’t have the space for a bin that required a pitch fork to turn and aerate the material. I needed a composter that would produce compost quickly, keep critters out, was low on the odor meter, and used the least amount of space possible. The Tumbleweed was the perfect match for me. >>Compost Bin Buyer’s Guide

The instructions were straight forward, and I assembled the bin in about 20 minutes. Clean Air Gardening also provides helpful how-to videos. The bin is only about 22 lbs and super easy to move around the yard. I ultimately chose an area on the side of the house and away from the neighbors (photo). The two twist-lock lids make for easy filling and keep animals out of the pile. Some people complain about how hard tumblers are to flip, but I have no trouble even when the bin is full.

Building A Compost Pile

The basic compost pile is made up of equal parts brown material (carbon) and green material (nitrogen). Brown material includes dry leaves, hay, sawdust, straw, wood chips, and woody prunings. Green material includes grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, crushed eggshells, and manure from cows, horses, goats, chicken, and rabbits (NOT your pet dog or cat). Meat and dairy products, weeds, and diseased and insect infested plants should stay far away from your compost piles. Water and air circulation also help to create optimal conditions for the little organisms that breakdown raw material. >>More Helpful Compost Know-How

Tips For Faster Compost

  • Collect all your material in advance and add to your pile all at once. Your pile should be about 3 feet by 3 feet to heat up properly. Colder piles take longer to decompose.
  • Chop up kitchen scraps, shred leaves with your mower, and chop larger twigs into smaller pieces (roughly 3/4 to 2 inches). Smaller particles decompose faster.
  • Layer green and brown material, add water, then mix together. Your pile should be damp like a wrung-out sponge.
  • Place your bin in the sun. Heat helps activate the microorganisms that breakdown raw material. For warmer, dry areas, place your bin in shade for part of the day to keep the pile from drying out.

Troubleshooting Compost Problems

Not everyone will get their pile completely odor-free or to the right temperature the first time. Having too much or too little of a particular material can cause problems. If your compost pile starts to get stinky, then you know you have too much of one material. Good compost should smell earthy, not like a garbage can. Remember the equal parts green and brown materials when building your pile. Most compost problems are easy to fix.

  • ROTTEN ODOR Pile too wet and lacks oxygen. SOLUTION: add a layer of brown material or turn pile to aerate.
  • AMMONIA ODOR Too much nitrogen (green material). SOLUTION: add more brown material and turn pile.
  • PILE NOT HOT ENOUGH Too dry or too much brown material. SOLUTION: Add water and turn pile or add more green material.
  • PILE ATTRACTS PESTS Kitchen scraps on surface or meat and dairy products added. SOLUTION: Bury kitchen scraps in pile and remove meat and dairy products.

Composting can be easy or a labor intensive chore. Take the time to find a composter that is right for you and your garden. Just remember, the more convenient the composter, the more money you’ll pay.

How hard do you work to make compost in your garden?

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2008 2:16 am

    Jayme I have tagged you. Please go to my blog if you feel like it to play along. cheers.

  2. July 22, 2008 12:57 pm

    I’m not sure what tagging is but I’ll sure check it out. Thanks for the visit!

  3. September 25, 2008 4:36 am

    What a wonderful composter, I also just bought a Jora JK125 which actually spins and is insulated for year long composting. It also has twin chambers for working two stages of compost. Don’t you just love composting?

    Jora JK125

  4. September 25, 2008 6:36 am

    Thanks for the visit Mark and the time to comment. The Jora model sounds pretty fancy. Composting all year long??? Nice.

  5. October 28, 2008 4:37 pm

    This is a nice composter. Thanks for the great information.

  6. January 10, 2009 2:47 pm

    Sorry for overlooking your nice comment. Glad we would help and stop by anytime!

    Best in 2009!


  7. David permalink
    January 11, 2010 1:35 pm

    Anyone have experience with how well the Joraform composts kitchen waste vis-a-vis odor, forgivefullness, etc.?


  8. April 27, 2010 8:07 am

    I agree totally, compost tumblers are ideal for people who don’t have a lot of space in their garden or yard. Another advantage of a compost tumbler is it requires less effort and creates less mess.

    Excellent Post!


    • April 27, 2010 9:18 am

      Thanks for the comment! I totally agree. The only downside is that it can get quite heavy to turn once it’s full. Good workout!

  9. July 15, 2013 11:38 pm

    Hello colleagues, pleasant post and pleasant arguments commented at this place, I am really
    enjoying by these.


  1. The Tumbleweed gets a review from Nest In Style
  2. What To Know Before Starting Your First Compost Pile « Nest In Style

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