Two-Batch Tumbling Composter: Product Review
If you ask me, the hardest part about composting is the effort required to turn the compost pile. As your pile of brown and green materials gets bigger and bigger, turning it over with a garden fork can become quite a workout. And if you stop turning the pile, it becomes less oxygenated, which means the microbes responsible for the decomposition of the materials stop working so hard and the composting process slacks off. In other words, stop turning your compost pile and it’ll be a good long time before you get that black gold of crumbly, nutrient-rich compost you were hoping for.
>> Related Article: Composting Guide – Resources and Tips for Making Great Compost
The Two-Batch Tumbling Composter from Gardener’s Supply Company is one answer to the problem of getting compost without the back-breaking effort of turning the pile.
Spinning Barrel Makes Turning Compost Easier
The Two-Batch Tumbling Composter consists of a large barrel made of recycled polyethylene that turns lengthwise on a powder-coated steel stand. Overall size is 36 inches long, 35 inches wide and 38 1/4 inches tall.
The barrel has an interior dividing wall that effectively creates two separate compartments so you can fill one side and have that batch “cooking” while you fill the other side.
The lid slides back and forth to open either side or can be removed completely if you want access to both compartments.
When either batch is fully composted and ready to use, you can spread a tarp below the barrel and turn it over to empty—again, no shoveling or back-straining work involved.
Easy to Assemble
The Two-Batch Tumbling Composter is easy to assemble. I was able to put it together in less than 30 minutes with just a screwdriver. I set the composter up next to my garbage and recycling bins so that I would have easy access to it to add kitchen scraps and garden cuttings, and also so that I would remember (usually!) to give the composter barrel a spin whenever I went out to empty the trash.
It sounds easy enough and it is, but there are a few catches.
Makes Only Small Batches
First, although the stated capacity of the barrel is 7.4 cubic feet, don’t expect to get anywhere near that amount of compost. If you fill one side to the top and let that cook, you will only get about half that amount of finished compost from it. This is definitely “small-batch” composting, and as such it is best suited for small gardens.
Lid Gets in the Way
Second, because the lid slides back and forth, you can only turn the barrel over completely with the lid all the way closed or completely removed. If you slide the lid open on one side and then try to turn it, the lid will hit against the steel stand and prevent it from turning further.
Difficult to Empty
In order to empty only one side of the barrel, you have to spin the barrel so that the lid is at the bottom and then try to slide the lid open. The lid doesn’t slide easily in any position and sliding it when it’s at the bottom is even more cumbersome and awkward.
A hinged lid with two handles that could open up either side would have been easier to maneuver.
Hard to Spin
Handles would also make spinning the barrel easier; as it is, the indentations in the side of the barrel are the only way to grip it to spin it and that gets harder to do as the bin fills up and gets heavier.
Small Air Vents = Rodent-Resistant But Slow to Cook
This is one composter that I think would certainly be rodent resistant because the lid is tight-fitting and the air vents at each end of the barrel are very small.
The small size of the air vents, however, also means that there isn’t a lot of air circulating through the composting materials, which may be the reason that my compost batches seemed to cook so slowly.
Drains Excess Water
There is a drain with a screw-on cap on the bottom of the barrel that allows you to drain off excess water for compost tea.
As much as I like the idea of spinning the compost barrel as opposed to turning piles of compost with a fork, the design of the Two-Batch Tumbling Composter is not the best. The small amount of finished compost that you get from each batch may not make this composter, with a footprint of almost one square yard, the best use of space in a small garden. The awkwardness of opening the lid to remove the finished compost is definitely a drawback, as is the lack of air vents. On the plus side, the composter is very sturdy, rodent-resistant, and should hold up for many years of use. I give it a 3-shovel rating.
Where to Buy
The Two-Batch Tumbling Composter is available from Gardener’s Supply Company for $225 plus shipping (not available for shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. Territories).
The same composter, made by Algreen in both gray and terracotta colors, can be purchased on Amazon for $184.99 with free shipping.
And now over to you – Have you tried any compost bins in your garden? How did it work? Let us know in the comments below!
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Other Composting Reviews & Resources
Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Gardener’s Supply for giving us a free Two-Batch Tumbling Composter to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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