How To Use A Compost Tumbler

End Your Backyard Farming Woes By Learning How To Use A Compost Tumbler

Backyard farming using household items is an interesting thing to do. People collect organic wastes, accumulate food scraps, and even buy manure to prepare compost for their backyard farm. However, many of them are still not able to get the desired results. The problem lies with the structuring of the compost pile. If organic matter is not set in layers and turned regularly, the compost will take more time to form. For this reason, using compost tumblers can give better results than conventional compost piles. In this article, let us understand how to use a compost tumbler to prepare high-quality compost.

Types Of Compost Tumblers

With backyard farming becoming popular, manufacturers have started producing different types of compost tumblers. These compost tumblers help in small-scale compost production with limited resources. Three types of compost tumblers are available in the market today.

1. Continuous Compost Tumblers

Continuous compost tumblers are the most suitable for backyard composting. You need to add kitchen waste, yard scraps, and other organic material to the compost tumbler, continuously throughout the year.

The composting process in a continuous compost tumbler is slow. Usually, the compost settles down in the lowest layer of the tumbler. The compost can be removed twice or thrice in a year. Continuous compost tumblers are beneficial when you want compost that is rich in both brown and green matter.

However, since the addition of organic matter has to be done throughout the year, you need to stockpile the materials. For instance, stock the browns like dry leaves during autumn, so that you can add them in the composter regularly.

Gardeners who prepare compost only to manage their kitchen wastes find continuous compost tumblers very useful.

2. Batch Compost Tumbler

As the name suggests, a batch compost tumbler has several compartments where different composting materials can be turned separately. Batch composters have a tumbling mechanism that helps in speeding the composting process.

However, it is essential that you keep turning the batches regularly, and maintain ideal moisture content to get the results. When one batch of organic matter is fed and turned in the composter, you should stockpile the material for the next batch. Sticking to a composting schedule helps in making the process simpler.

Home gardeners suggest that batch composters give the fastest results, provided you plan the process properly.

3. Indoor Compost Tumblers

People who own small gardens, and do not have the space to accommodate large composters can use the indoor compost tumblers. The indoor compost tumblers, along with worm bins, can help produce compost in the home environment. However, this type of composting is only suitable for small-scale production.

Only kitchen wastes are sufficient to make compost in indoor compost tumblers. You can use this compost to grow houseplants and enrich the soil for a small garden.

Some people find worm composters convenient to use. Therefore, even though they have space for large composters, they still prefer using these indoor tumblers and bins.

How To Use A Compost Tumbler?

The traditional method of composting involves the use of compost piles. While compost tumblers work similarly, they require proper storage in protected locations. Moreover, compost tumblers have to be turned more frequently than compost piles.

You can follow these steps to use compost tumblers:

1. Storage

Choosing the right location is the most crucial part of using compost tumblers successfully. Generally, people place the compost tumbler in the garage because there is less moisture penetration through the ventilator valves. The right amount of moisture is essential to provide a conducive atmosphere for the microorganisms to grow.

2. Selecting The Waste

You have to select the waste materials strategically to ensure they get converted faster. Generally, waste materials for preparing compost in a tumbler include yard scraps, kitchen waste, paper shreds, vacuum and dryer lint, ash, sawdust, wool and hair, wooden trimmings, seed shells, rotten vegetables, eggshells, tea bags, and hay..

3. Adding It To The Tumbler

After stockpiling and accumulating all the waste materials, you need to add them to the compost tumbler. If you are using an indoor tumbler or a batch compost tumbler, add the organic matter in parts.

However, the best household tumbler is the continuous compost tumbler in which you can add all the waste materials. It helps in the continuous turning of all these materials collectively. If you turn the pile diligently, you can expect faster results with this method.

4. Preparing Layers

In every compost tumbler, you have to add the waste material in layers. Always ensure that every layer has three parts of brown wastes and one part of green wastes. The most common household brown wastes include paper and wooden shavings. Commonly found green wastes are grass clippings, fruit and vegetable wastes, etc.

5. Turning The Tumbler

Every compost tumbler has a hand crank that helps in turning the manure. During the initial phase, only a single rotation per day is enough. However, some compost tumblers come with a manual that states the number of rotations needed for it. Using the hand crank not only turns the organic matter but also circulates air between the layers. Moreover, turning the manure inside a compost tumbler requires less effort, and is more efficient than compost piles.

6. Monitoring The Compost

Apart from turning the compost regularly, you need to monitor the smell of the compost as well. A pungent odor indicates excess levels of nitrogen that needs to be balanced by adding more brown wastes. Similarly, the smell of rotten eggs suggests excessive moisture between the layers. You need to add more brown wastes in this case to reduce moisture levels.


After following all these steps, you need to check the compost every two weeks. When the compost gives out an earthy smell and has a loose texture, the composting process is complete. Start using this compost for your soil and add a new lot of organic waste to the tumbler. However, if the compost has not reached this stage, you need to continue composting.

In some cases, it can take more time than usual. So, this was a simple guide to teach you how to use a compost tumbler. The procedure for using them is similar to that of a compost pile. However, most people prefer tumblers, as they are easier to manage.