How to Use a Compost Tumbler

Correctly using a composting tumbler will ensure high-quality compost in a short amount of time. In addition to a composting tumbler, you will need a bin or garbage can that is the same capacity as the tumbler to effectively compost. This bin will be used to store kitchen scraps until you have enough to make a batch of compost. Unlike other composting methods, you should not add scraps throughout the composting process for the best results.

If you live in a cold climate, don’t expect to use the compost tumbler throughout the winter. In cold areas of the northern hemisphere, you can load the tumbler a final time in October; in April the compost should be read to use. Use bins to store kitchen scraps during the winter; the scraps can be processed in the spring.

Step 1: Collect kitchen scraps such as vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, and coffee grounds in a bin or garbage can with a lid.

Step 2: Add a small amount of sawdust after every deposit into the bin to minimize smell. Continue layering kitchen scraps and sawdust until the bin is full.

Step 3: Dump the contents of bin into the composting tumbler. If the contents of the bin seem particularly wet, add more dry composting material such as dead leaves, newspaper, or more sawdust.

TIPS: The ratio of dry material to wet kitchen scraps should be roughly one to one. However, the dry materials added to the bin to reduce smell count towards this ratio; you may not have to add any dry material to obtain the correct moisture level when loading the tumbler.

Step 4: Close the compost bin and rotate it for a few minutes several times a day.

Step 5: Check the moisture level of the compost each time you rotate the tumbler. The compost should be damp; you may need to add water. Rotate the compost tumbler after adding water to distribute the moisture throughout the mix.

Step 6: Store new kitchen scraps in the bin for future batches of compost. Do not add the scraps to the tumbler at this point.

Step 7: Continue rotating the compost tumbler for at least two weeks. After two weeks, monitor the compost until it is fully decomposed and ready to be used.

Step 8: Remove the finished compost from the tumbler. Fill the tumbler with new composting materials once the bin is full.

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