If you are here, then, you are seriously interested in an easy way to turn your food scraps into fertilizer for your garden or flower bed.
Before looking over these reviews for compost bins and tumblers, take a little time to absorb some composting information, Composting For A Healthier Garden, before making any “buy” decisions. It will help you make the right choices on the compost bin or tumbler that is right for you!
There are several different types of containers for composting.
If you are not in a subdivision or in a city, you could just start piles of compost on the back of your property…or build a compost bin. These are not pretty…but, they will still produce excellent quality fertilizer to make your garden happy. This can take 2 to 3 months…or more…for the decomposition process to complete.
But, for the majority of gardeners, a more visually appealing bin or tumbler is essential …one that can contain any odors that may protrude from the compost area and keep out the four-legged vermin that may wish to invade the decomposing matter in search of a food supply.
After painstaking and careful research…and with some firsthand knowledge…I have put together a group of the best, most effective composting bins and tumblers to satisfy your gardening needs…from the budget conscious individuals to the “I want the best and easiest one to use that is available” group.
Even though there are kitchen counter top bins available, they are too small to be of any valuable use to anyone with a backyard garden so, only outside compost bins and tumblers are discussed here.
Normally, it takes at least 2 to 3 months to make mature compost with a bin. Some of the more advanced tumblers, on the other hand, can do it in as little as 2 weeks!
NOTE: Pretty much all compost bins and tumblers come in dark colors (i.e. black, gray, or green). This helps the unit to retain heat needed to cook the decaying stew.
Have a look! You will definitely find one that is perfect for your composting venture!
Redmon Green Culture 65-Gallon Compost Bin
This Redmon 65-Gallon model is a very basic and low-priced compost bin. It can handle about 8.6 cubic feet of decomposing material.
The bottom is open to the ground, which allows worms to get in…and it has 12-inch high doors on all four sides for easy access to the compost. Since this bin is open to the ground, there is easy access for critters to burrow into the compost in search of a meal.
For those folks who want to set this composter on their patio…
- Place a thick piece of tarp under it to protect your patio surface. Let me tell you from experience, this dirt can be a pain in the neck to clean up…so, definitely put something under it for protection!
- Then, you will need to buy starter worms and a compost activator…reviewed in the accessories section.
- Pay close attention to ensure that the compost does not get too wet or, it will start to emanate foul odors. If it does, add some dry, brown leaves, straw, or wood chips to balance it.
Another stickler with this type of composter is that the top and bottom openings are too small to use a normal shovel or garden fork for mixing and aerating the compost.
Even though there are plenty of ventilation holes to promote aeration, turning the pile occasionally is still desirable.
Assembling this compost bin is easy…normally taking about 10 minutes to set up. At such a low price, I was expecting to find that it was very flimsy…but, I was surprised to find that it is remarkably well-built!
The Redmon Compost Bin is made with high impact plastic coated with a UV protectant. However, at temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the plastic tends to get a little brittle and could crack so, before opening the top or doors, let the sun warm the bin up a bit.
A composting guide is included with every Redmon Compost Bin.
This is a very, very tastefully fashionable and inexpensive answer for composting enthusiasts. At this price, you can afford to have multiple bins…which give rise to having compost decomposition at several different stages of development.
It’s worth your time to take a closer look at the Redmon Green Culture 65-Gallon Compost Bin.
Lifetime 60028 65-Gallon Compost Tumbler
With a tumbling composter like the Lifetime 60028 65-Gallon Compost Tumbler, there is no need to use shovel, rakes, garden forks, hand aerators, or other implements of destruction to mix up the composting soup. Just an occasional tumbling action does the trick. And, there are hand holds, located at several places around the cylinder, to aid in easy tumbler rotation.
Finished compost…ready for the garden in less than half the time of a compost bin.
For my money, that makes this a darn good deal for quick harvesting of compost material.
Picture This Scenario…
- Buy a good quality compost tumbler.
- Transfer the final product to compost bins.
- Recharge the tumbler with fresh material and continue to speedily produce high-quality humus.
This Lifetime Compost Tumbler originally had an issue with the steel frame rusting after a couple of years…but, Lifetime fixed that problem by powder coating the frame. Now, it is protected against the worst that nature has to offer.
A 65-gallon tumbler gives you a capacity of more than an 8.5 cubic foot. With the tumbler ~ 75% full, the compost yield will be about 25 gallons of finished humus (organic soil material).
Sitting on its stand, there is enough clearance to unload the compost fertilizer into a wheelbarrow.
One disadvantage is that the Lifetime Compost Tumbler is shipped completely in pieces with an overabundance of hardware to assemble…and, it can take 2 or more hours to put it together correctly since the assembly instructions are somewhat ambiguous. A 2-people team can make this task much easier!
Another shortcoming is that water can become trapped in the walls of the composter itself. Drilling a few extra drain holes can solve this problem.
The scooped areas used to turn the tumbler can experience an accumulation of water…which offers a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. Drilling a few holes here and there in the scoops can offset this issue, too.
The manufacturer includes a 5-year warranty which is pretty good for composting products.
Even with the anomalies, the Lifetime 60028 65-Gallon Compost Tumbler is a good buy, an amazingly effective product, and unquestionably worth a look-see!
Enviro World 82 Gallon Compost Bin
The Enviro World 82 Gallon Compost Bin is at least twice the cost of the Redmon Green Culture 65-Gallon Compost Bin but, it is very sturdier, has a much larger capacity, 11 cubic feet, and comes with metal grounding pins to secure it in place.
The grounding pins are not efficient enough to tightly secure the bin to the ground…but, after dumping several feet of composting material into it, chances are it is not going anywhere.
The top is a twist locking lid with a large opening, allowing use of a small shovel or garden fork to turn the decomposing pile. However, turning the pile is still a bit awkward so, to make life easier, get a compost aerator to mix things up.
The lower front door is fairly large, 12 inches x 16 inches, offering easy access to shovel the mature compost into a garden cart or wheelbarrow.
Since this bin is molded as a single unit, there are no seams…and no difficult assembly required. Basically, it’s just 3 sections…the bin…the top lid…and the bottom door.
This reliable compost bin comes with a Composting Guide and a 10-year warranty.
The vast majority of folks’ reviewed say that they are very positively satisfied with the Enviro World 82 Gallon Compost Bin. You will be, too!
Mantis Easy Spin ComposTumbler CT09001
The Mantis CT09001 is a bit small at 37 gallons, holding only 5 cubic feet of material. But, for a small garden, this unit would work flawlessly. And, since this is a tumbler, the finished compost will be ready in about a month or less…at which time it can be dumped into a compost bin for distribution and the tumbler can be restarted on a new batch…and so on…and so on.
The built-in turning grooves make mixing the compost as easy as picking apples off low-hanging branches!
Except for its big brother, the Mantis Compact ComposTumbler CT02001, this tumbler is the most efficient, user-friendly composting tumbler on the market. It has a huge door for adding material and removing compost. And, the drainage vents allow excess water to escape easily.
Made in the U.S.A., Mantis only offers a 2-year warranty which is a bit of a surprise considering that many bins and tumblers offer 5 and 10 year warranties.
Pricing is about 50% higher than the Lifetime 60028 65-Gallon Compost Tumbler but…hey…it’s a Mantis! For the small plot gardeners, the Mantis Easy Spin ComposTumbler CT09001 is a classy, quality composter that will offer years of faithful service.
Mantis Compact ComposTumbler CT02001
This tumbler is HUGE…holding 88 gallons (i.e. 22 cubic feet or 9.5 bushels) of composting material.
It’s a bit heavier than the others…weighing in at 60 pounds…probably because it is constructed with rust-resistant galvanized steel…meaning it will last almost f-o-r-e-v-e-r!
If you want to add a few years to the tumbler’s “forever” life, take the time to spray the inside of the body and door with several coats of clear silicone sealer before assembling it.
This is unquestionably the tumbler designed for the serious gardener!
The door comes off for trouble-free loading and unloading of compost material. It has a gear driven handle to rotate the drum making it the easiest tumbler available to mix the decaying material.
Just as its little brother, the Mantis CT09001, it has drainage vents to allow excessive moisture to evacuate the cylinder.
The tumbler is a little tricky to setup and having a second set of hands is a big help to shortcut the process.
But…again…just as with the Mantis CT09001…the only real issue I have is with this tumbler is the short 2-year warranty.
It’s a bit pricey but, if you are a serious gardener, then the Mantis Compact ComposTumbler CT02001 is for you!
A few words about some great accessories that will help you with your composting adventure…
A compost thermometer is handy to have around for measuring the temperature of the decomposing pile. It can tell you whether or not the center of the pile is actively decomposing or not.
Mantis makes a compost thermometer but, the quality does not match up to the other Mantis products I have reviewed and I chose to go with a top-of-the-line thermometer by REOTEMP. The Mantis compost thermometer feels flimsy and has been known to have problems with the dial needle coming loose and floating back and forth…not giving accurate readings.
REOTEMP FG20P Backyard Compost Thermometer – 20″ Stem
As explained in the video…
- Composting instructions are on the back of the packaging.
- The dial indicates whether the compost temperature is in the steady, active, or hot zone.
- The probe has a large 1/4 inch diameter stem…bigger than most of the other compost thermometers.
- The dial is hermetically sealed so water will not leak into it and it will not fog up if left overnight in the compost pile.
Knowing the temperature in your compost pile is critical for answering the key questions:
- When do I turn and mix my compost?
- When should I add more material?
- Should I add dry, brown material or moist, green material?
- Do I need to add Water?
- When is my compost done?
The REOTEMP FG20P accurately gives you all this information! Savvy composters keep one of these compost thermometers at hand!
I don’t compost without my REOTEMP FG20P Backyard Compost Thermometer to help me out!
For most compost bins, it is essential to have a good quality compost aerator to thoroughly mix the compost and allow oxygen to penetrate its depths because, it is easier said than done using a shovel or garden fork for this chore.
I looked at a number of aerators and was initially impressed by the Enviro World Compost Turner but, after some in-depth research I discovered that there was a major problem with the harpoon wings that are driven down into the material. The wings start to literally separate from the rod and some folks have reported the wings coming off the pole. And, it is not fun to dig down through several feet of immature compost to fish them out.
This convinced me that a one-piece approach with few or no moving parts is the best plan of action. Therefore, for a little more money, I chose two options from Lotech Products:
These two aerators are made in the U.S.A, in Tucson, AZ…and the “business end” of them is a 3/8 inch diameter, one-piece solid stainless steel construction that will last without end!
They both have an effective depth of 29 inches and a corkscrew configuration that is twisted down into the pile…then, without turning, pulled straight up and out to facilitate aeration. What an ingenious idea!
And, get this! They both have a limited lifetime warranty!
I particularly like the Compost Crank Compost Aerator since; the handle style makes it virtually effortless when digging deep into the composting pile.
Adding some worms and a composting activator can go a long way in giving your new compost pile a jump start, especially for tumblers…and bins placed on patios.
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm 500 Count Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms
Uncle Jim has been in the worm business for almost half a century and Red Wigglers are champions at composting. He guarantees live delivery and offers an 800 number to talk with live worm experts.
This package contains the perfect number of worms for starting any new compost pile!
Add Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm 500 Count Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms to your compost. You won’t regret it!
Exaco Microbial Inoculant Composting Activator – 1 Quart (32 Ounces)
This activator is a liquid concentrate that should last any composter for at least one season. It contains aerobic bacteria…and yeast.
Keep it out of direct sunlight and don’t expose it to extreme temperatures…and one quart of this stuff will most likely be effective for 6 months, at least.
This inoculant has been used commercially over a long period of time and is known to work extremely well!
Made in the U.S.A.
Keeping a quart of Exaco Microbial Inoculant Composting Activator on hand is a smart move.
There you have it. Some great reviews for compost bins and tumblers – some excellent products to choose from…and my favorite is the Mantis Compact ComposTumbler CT02001, 88 gallon, with the hand crank.
And, there are some very remarkable accessories covered, too…including the REOTEMP FG20P Backyard Compost Thermometer, the Compost Crank Compost Aerator, Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm 500 Count Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms, and the Exaco Microbial Inoculant Composting Activator – 1 Quart (32 Ounces).
What do you think? What are your choices and why? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim, the Lifelong Gardener