Every gardener meets a challenge from time to time. Proper watering, fitting sprinklers, the type of fertilizer which he will use. For me, compost was always considered as something you make by judgment, and there is nothing more to tell. Oh, how wrong I was! Making compost is very delicate matter, and not physically easy either. To do so, you need the best of the best.
herefore, the best compost tumbler is at your disposal. Why bother with buckets when you can do it with style?
What Is A Compost Tumbler?
Probably every gardener knows how to make compost. Put bio-waste into the container, and turn it with a pitchfork once in a while. When it comes to tumblers, the principle is the literally the same. Only it is turned upside down (pun intended).
Instead of turning the material inside, the whole container is movable, and while it turns, it mixes the soil inside. Now, as for design, there are three major kinds which might be taken into consideration, and here they are:
As the name suggests, these look like a standard barrel put on the side and rolled. Of course, there is a stand with ball bearings system which makes turning easy. These are the cheapest ones and are far more stable than other two.
Similar to previous one, with the difference of central axis which makes rolling easier. They are good since tanks are lifted above the ground, so no mice or rats can find their way inside.
The third kind has a handle which makes the spinning much more comfortable, and are the most convenient for elder people. They are also above the ground, but because of the handlebar are a bit more expensive than previous ones.
Which Features Make The Winner?
To determine which one is the best, I had to establish rules and characteristics which are most important when it comes to these helpful additions to every gardener. So, my rules were as follows.
Width Of The Opening
One of the most irritating things when it comes to compost tumblers is the case when the opening where it is filled is too narrow. This automatically means that filling and removing compost is much more difficult. There is no worst thing than to find out that your shovel cannot fit through the opening. Spade or a trowel will be needed, and this makes things very slow.
With broader opening (or the mouth) the things are more comfortable, but this also means that higher amount of compost falls out every time, so this was something about what I had to be careful.
Of course, the amount of compost I was able to produce with one filling is also substantial. In general, the more, the better, since I can cover a more prominent area of my garden. Of course, not all plants require the same amount of the same compost at one moment; some need weaker variety at the beginning of the cycle, while other need compost with stronger nutrition value.
Therefore, those with two compartments are ideal, but they can produce a smaller amount of each than one with a single tank. Balancing these two needs and taking into consideration my plans was also an important factor in deciding the winner.
The material of which the tumbler is made reflects the quality, period. The better the materials, the higher price, but there is also a factor of toxicity (not to be confused with the song by System of a down).
The best tumblers use quality and resistant materials such as metal and quality PVC plastic. Also, they must be as less affecting the compost as possible; I don’t want any compounds to be infused into compost, get to my plants, so that I can consume it later. This is a no-no scenario.
Since I tend to put a lot of organic matter into the tumbler, it is understandable why it weights quite heavy after filling. Thus, tumbling requires a lot of physical effort. Or does it?
The amount of sheer force I have put into turning the tumbler also dictates its quality. Those which I need to push with all my strength are not that good; for this case, I’ll hit the gym instead. In this case, fewer is better, since I won’t get tired much; when I think that I have something challenging to do, my euphoria is gone.
Tumblers are not stores to have working hours, don’t get me wrong. This term refers to the time needed to get compost done.
Few weeks are usually needed to get beautiful, rich and usable compost. This period is directly proportional to temperature; the higher the temperature, the quicker the bacteria will multiply, and the time for it to be ready will be shorter. Those tumblers with isolation are thus the best; they are cutting down needed time significantly. But, their price is because of that also higher.
Speaking of money, it is natural for every buyer to look for the best deal available, and to spend the least amount of money possible. I didn’t entirely take this road; to some extent, I have looked for the best deal.
A compost tumbler is one of those items which are bought once in every few years. Therefore, it is not essential to save $5 on the purchase, if the quality is not good enough. I will instead look for a quality product, and pay for it. This way, I will not waste more money in six months once this product breaks.
Without any further delays, here is my choice of five the best tumblers which will help you to make as best compost as possible. Keep in mind that every of those has its appliance; if you already have a tumbler and need a better one, upgrade pick is for you, or if you are a bit short on money, the budget pick will do just fine.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Kotulas 50-Gallon Wheeled – keep rollin’!
Price on Amazon: $129.99
Kotulas had managed to make an absolute perfection! This tumbler from them is all I wanted it to be.
The first thing noticeable is the shape of this model. I have expected that 50-gallon will be much bigger and occupy a lot more space, but in fact, it didn’t. It is a horizontal barrel type with the handlebar for easier mixing and is also put on top of the solid frame made of robust steel. Looking reliable and sturdy, it is even better when it comes to performance.
The mouth of this model is quite wide, so the shovel fits without an issue. When I think of it, the shovel was needed only for filling the tank. Since it has wheels, I could take it to where it was required, tip it over, and the compost falls out. As for the working time, it took an average few weeks to make compost, but when I take into consideration that I have filled it much more than I usually do, it is pretty fast.
Turning it was so easy that I had to double check to see if I’m doing something wrong. I didn’t; it was a piece of the case, that’s the explanation. Thus, I have expected much higher price, concerning the quality of the product and the comfort. When everything is taken into consideration, the price is as right as rain.
Forest City Hot Frog 37-Gallon – second just barely
Price on Amazon: $104.95
The runner-up from Forest City has deserved this place. Don’t get me wrong, this is also one great tumbler, but not enough to be the best.
Forest City decided to go with barrel roll design, and since it has “Frog” in its title, it was accented with delicate green shades. Although this is nice to look at, it also reduces the amount of sunlight which the plastic will absorb, and thus a bit longer working time. Still, it was satisfying.
The materials which are used for this model list recycled plastic, and although this is great for the environment, I have concerns that it is not as safe as it should be. Even recycled usually means “low quality,” this is not the case with this model; it sports excellent UV resistance, and there are fewer chances that the sunlight will affect the process inside in a wrong way.
Since it is stationary, the bearing must be done with great care, and luckily, it is. Sliding is effortless, and there were no stutters or holdings; it moved like (not Jagger) a charm. The opening is greatly done and large enough since I had to slide aside part of the compartment to fill or empty the tumbler.
The price is the primary concern with this model. Since it is an only 37-gallon unit, I think that it should be much less. Also, this is the most basic concept, which also makes it a tad expensive.
Envirocycle The Most Beautiful Composter in the World – it indeed is
Price on Amazon: from $169.99
Yes, you read it right. Its title is “The most beautiful composter in the world, ” and it fits the description.
Envirocycle had managed to make an excellent compost tumbler, with recycled plastic. Not to be a hypocrite, this one looks and feels safer than previous one; I think that they have invested more into quality, and it can be seen. It is also full in black, so absorbing sunlight is not a problem; remember that the temperature is of the essence.
Speaking of quality, the barrel has very comfortable notches to grab and moves effortlessly, so there is no need to put a lot of strength into it. Ball bearings are top-notch quality and will last a lot of time until breaking. What sets aside this tumbler from the others is that it can also collect liquid which drains from the compost. Did somebody mention manure tea? Just collect it from the lower section.
The opening is big, it takes almost the quarter of the barrel, but fitting is so perfect that I had to look for it; I forgot that there is one in the first place. Because of these qualities, the price is higher when compared to the others, but when considered what you get for your money, it is not that bad.
Yimby Tumbler Composter – great one, at low cost
Price on Amazon: from $89.00
When it comes to cheaper tumblers, this one from Yimby is my warmest recommendation. Evidently, low price is the first thing you will notice, but its quality is indisputable.
This model is equipped with a steel-made stand and features central axis as well. This approach makes turning smooth, although there is some force needed to move it from zero position. Luckily, the plastic of which the tank is made is pretty gentle to touch and is making things a bit easier.
The container is also separated into two compartments, which could be better if the chambers could be spun at a different speed. Some types of compost require more time undisturbed.
The opening is medium sized, but considering the amount of compost which it can produce, it is sufficient. I had the feeling that this one was primarily aimed at people who grow flowers most. 37-gallon tank is another fact which contributes to this point.
As for the price, it is low. However, I have the feeling that the manufacturer wanted to make an affordable tumbler, without too many additional features, but have added some eventually. This also makes it a good model for beginners.
FCMP Outdoor Dual Body Tumbling Composter – two halves makes a whole
Price on Amazon: $169.99
Another Hot Frog variety, this one is primarily aimed for people with small gardens or lawns. Its most prominent feature is two independent compartments.
Made of quality plastic, this little guy can offer 37 gallons separated into two compartments. This is a fantastic feature if you need to make two different kinds of compost. As I said, some require more often tumbling, while others need to stay dormant more.
As for the materials, the plastic is of good quality, UV, and weather resistant, so there will be no wearing from intense sunlight. However, as with another model from my list, I’m slightly concerned about it being made of recycled plastics. Just to be clear, I understand that it is entirely safe, but that is just my impression.
Since there are two compartments, they can be turned quickly, because the weight is separated into two parts. Also, nicely distributed holders are making this work much more natural. As for the time needed for making compost, it depends on ingredients you put inside, and I can’t give you a straight answer. From two weeks and more, anything is possible.
The price is somewhat high, but once again, if I take into consideration what offers this tumbler, I can freely say that it is worth buying.
Well, that was a fun journey for me. Making compost and experimenting with different tumblers broaden my knowledge on this matter. This is why I can say that Kotulas 50-Gallon Wheeled had beaten its competition fair and square. This is the best compost tumbler in my opinion since it sports excellent price, quality, and reliability.
If you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to share it in the comment section below. Also, opinions, advice, and tips are more than welcome as well.