5 Composting Tips and Tricks for Compost Tumbler Users

5 Composting Tips and Tricks for Compost Tumbler Users

Composting is an environment-friendly way of nourishing your garden.

A great many benefits of composting are no longer a secret to gardeners and homeowners. In fact, people are coming up with new ways to compost their biodegradable waste all the time. By recycling kitchen waste and other biodegradable materials into compost, either as a soil amendment or fertilizer, you are saving both your budget and the environment. In this article, we will be shedding more light on compost tumblers and some little known composting tips and tricks to make them more efficient.

What are Compost Tumblers?

A compost tumbler is a basic compost container setup that can be rotated and spun to expedite the decomposition process of biodegradable waste, making it quicker to produce soil-friendly compost. When used the right way, that is.

A compost tumbler is rotated to promote the decomposition process of organic waste.

The thing is, compost tumblers don’t always give you the ideal composting experience. Surprisingly, some compost tumblers are either too heavy to spin or laced with mechanism defects that render them not spinnable and useless. You certainly don’t want to end up with a tumbler full of stinking garbage. That said, we’re here to give you some composting tips to avoid these messes and maximize the function of your compost tumblers.

Add Soil/Manure/Compost Activator for your First Two Batches

Brand new compost tumblers require a bit of activating to be put to use. Since your new container is free of bacteria and other living decomposers, it might take a while for your kitchen scraps and what not to cook. Of course, biodegradable waste naturally comes with living decomposers, but it’s going to take more than to really speed the composting process. If readily available, add in horse manure or healthy soil to get the compost cooking. Otherwise, you can buy a compost activator. Do this for the first two batches, and don’t ever clean your tumbler. The remaining material will be used to activate the following batch.

Manure can be added to a compost tumbler to speed up the composting process.

Prepare Waste in Chopped Up or Shredded Pieces

In order for living decomposers to speedily break your biodegradable waste down, it’s a good idea to chop or shred these organic materials first before adding them into the compost tumbler. With smaller pieces, microorganisms will have more surface area to work through the waste.

1-2 inch pieces are ideal for kitchen scraps. You may want to use a knife, some pruners, or a handy food processor to speed up the process.

Leaves and garden clippings should be shredded before adding them into the compost tumbler.

For leaves and other common lawn garbage, leaf shredders work best.

If you include paper and other biodegradable waste from the office, a shredding tool will be useful. You’d be surprised how much faster composting would be when you use this technique.

Make sure you shred your paper waste first before adding it to your compost tumbler.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Proper compost tumbler composting requires proper ventilation. Generally, the more your waste is exposed to air, the faster the decomposition and overall composting process. Without proper ventilation, your compost will come out as a foul, albeit still potent, substance. If you’re having problems with your compost tumbler ventilation, you may want to poke a few additional holes to let the compost breathe. In this case, you need a separate container to collect excess liquid drippings from the tumbler. These drippings are also known as compost tea, a soil and plant amendment that is perfectly safe and rich in essential nutrients.

Add Enough Moisture

If you’re having problems composting with your compost tumbler, lack of moisture is a likely culprit. Some organic waste such as fallen leaves can leave the inside of your tumbler dry. In this case, you must add about one to two quarts of water or moist kitchen scraps. Spin your tumbler a few times to evenly distribute the moisture. Your compost should not come out soggy. It should have a damp, sponge-like texture. You can add in more brown matters or leaves if the compost turns out soggy. Add some green if it comes out too dry.

Keep a Balanced Ratio of Green and Brown Materials

It’s always a good idea to maintain equilibrium in the compost tumbler. Generally, there are two types of biodegradable waste that you can add. These are the brown materials, which include straw, wood chips, sawdust, eggshells, tea bags, and paper; and the green materials, which include fruit and vegetable scraps, seaweed, grass, and lawn clippings, and fresh manure. Keeping more green materials in the compost tumbler will not stimulate composting. Furthermore, it will leave you with a stinking hot mess.

Keeping a balanced ratio of green and brown matter is crucial in composting.


Rich and healthy compost is such an integral part of gardening, and practicing proper composting doesn’t only save you money in the long run; it’s also an environment-friendly way to improve your garden. With compost tumblers, speed is key. As long as you practice these five mentioned tips, you’ll get the hang of compost tumbler composting in no time!

One Comment


    Very informative, thanks! I got my compost tumbler a couple of months ago, and it’s going a little slower than I expected. I think I’ll have to get my hands on some compost starter!

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