Tips for Using a Compost Tumbler in Your Garden

By Mary Ellen Ellis | March 2, 2018
Image by Mantis
by Mary Ellen Ellis
March 2, 2018

Composting is a must for every gardener. Why? Because it’s a simple and inexpensive way to reduce and reuse kitchen and garden waste and enrich your soil. Your garden will be healthier, and your plants will grow and produce more when you add nutrients to the soil with homemade compost.

But what if you don’t have a lot of space? A backyard compost tumbler is the answer. They are easy to use, compact, and many produce compost in just a few weeks.

Here are some answers to common questions about using a compost tumbler.


How Does a Compost Tumbler Work?

A tumbler is a container that keeps compost contained. This allows the necessary heat to build up and produce compost more quickly through the breakdown of organic materials. It also rotates so you can easily spin the tumbler to mix the materials, introduce air, and further promote the breakdown process. Tumblers are fully enclosed with locking doors and sit off the ground, which keeps unwanted critters out, and allows for composting virtually anywhere. If you have a small garden, the Back Porch composter from Mantis is the perfect choice.


What Should Go in a Tumbler?

Just about any organic waste can go in your compost tumbler, but it is important to get a good mix of nitrogen and carbon. Green materials are fresher waste and rich in nitrogen, and brown waste has more carbon. Some examples of things you can compost include grass clippings, shredded leaves, sawdust, dead plants, shredded newspaper (black and white pages only), kitchen waste from fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, and tea leaves.


How Much Can My Tumbler Hold?

A typical backyard or Back Porch compost tumbler is about five cubic feet, a great size for limited space. Even at this smaller size, you can expect to hold about four bushels, or 37 gallons, of waste and compost. It should hold plenty of material for you to use in a small garden and in containers.


How Often Should I Turn My Tumbler?

Turning the tumbler does several things: it speeds up decomposition time, distributes moisture throughout the compost, mixes up the microbes creating the compost so that they can access more material to break down, introduces air to the mixture, and breaks up clumps. It is ideal to turn your tumbler once a day, but this is not strictly necessary. You should definitely turn it – at least five times – every time you add new material, and try to turn it nearly every day to get the best results.

If you get the right mixture of ingredients and turn your tumbler regularly, you can expect to have your first batch of compost ready in as little as four weeks. The variation depends on the temperature in your garden and the mix of composting materials you use.

To try composting in a tumbler, check out the Mantis Back Porch ComposTumbler, which holds four bushels of material.

The above article was sponsored by Mantis. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
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