Reviews for Compost Bins and Tumblers

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

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.

But…not to worry.  The perfect answer to this dilemma is in the accessories section below…a compost bin aerator.

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.

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.

 

The Results?

 

 

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

 

Last but not least is my favorite of all…the Mantis Compact ComposTumbler CT02001!  It has all the perks of its little brother, the Mantis CT09001, and so much more.

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!


 Accessories

A few words about some great accessories that will help you with your composting adventure…

Compost Thermometers

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!

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Compost Aerators

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:

Compost Crank Twist Compost Aerator
Compost Crank Twist Compost Aerator
Compost Crank Compost Aerator
Compost Crank Compost Aerator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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Worms

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.

Uncle Jim's Red Wrigglers

 

 

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!
Uncle Jim's Worm Farm 500 Count Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms

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Composting Activator

 

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.

Exaco Microbial Inoculant Composting Activator

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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 jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com.

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

 

4 thoughts on “Reviews for Compost Bins and Tumblers

  1. rod Reply

    Hi, Jim, I like your site very much it brought me back to the days of my childhood when I would go to my grandparent’s house and see the garden. I have tried to compost here in las vegas but it always seems to dry out too fast in this hot climate. Is there a trick to do it in hot weather?Oh, I just wanted to let you know I did not know that the bold blue words were links until I accidentally move over them.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Rod,

      Glad you enjoyed my reviews of compost bins and tumblers.

      As long as you have the right combination of dry, brown material and wet, moist material, you will probably have to spray your compost with a little water occasionally.  Las Vegas is probably drying it out since the heat in that area can be truly ungodly!

      The REOTEMP FG20P Backyard Compost Thermometer, reviewed in the accessories section on this page, will help you determine what your compost pile needs.  This tool really is a wonder to behold!

      Jim

  2. Helen Doyle Reply

    Jim,d great article on composters. I am old school and have the back yard piles (contained though). Our backyard is about 35 acres so I have plenty of room! The best bet with this is 3 boxes. One to fill, one that is working and the final one with finished product. So if people can only afford the Redmon they can add on two more as money becomes available. This would still be under the final cost of the more expensive ones and give them the three ‘bed’ option. A great way of storing the compost.

    Aerating this style isn’t too hard. I use a straight hardwood branch! (We have a plethora of eucalypts here.) Poke the stick through the doors at the bottom to create tunnels to admit some air into the mass. I have holes in my wooden sides too so I can poke across all the way up. The cats keep the critters away and are too busy with that to bother with the birds.

    To get the process sped up a bit grow a clump or two of Comfrey (green manure). Bit never plant them near anywhere you don’t want them! They are berserk little buggers at growing. Once in a while grab a few handfuls of leaves, chop them up with a spade and then add to the compost. I do this as the pile is layering higher.

    With the smaller tumblers wouldn’t it be nice if they had lockable wheels. Then you could just wheel over to the garden then spread as you wheel along it! An idea for the designers.

    Once again a really informative article.

    Ciao
    Helen

    • Jim Post authorReply

      Hi Helen,

      It sounds like you have quite a bit of experience with composting! You have offered some great tips to make composting easier for all of us gardening enthusiasts…especially adding some Comfrey to speed up decomposition!

      You’re right. Considering the Redmon’s low price, you could have a whole line of 65-gallon compost bins for less than the price of the more expensive compost tumblers…like the Mantis CT02001.

      I’ve got mine attached to a pair of skateboards…making it easy to move even when its full.

      But, the good thing about the Mantis 88-gallon tumbler, is that it can produce finished compost in 2 to 4 weeks…with its easy cranking action to thoroughly mix and aerate the green and brown components. Then, I dump it into one of my many compost piles…I have a few of them, too…and start the whole process again. By springtime, I’ve got plenty of compost to cover my garden and my flower beds…with enough left over for my neighbor Jed when he needs it.

      Thanks, for stopping by. Good luck with your 35 acres!

      Jim

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