Pros & Cons of Tumbler Composting

Tumbler systems require some of the composting elements listed in the 7 Composting Methods; especially a combination of carbon and nitrogen, air, water and vegetable scraps (optional).

The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else.

This method brings with it the same challenges as the open air method, plus other different challenges;

It requires

  • Monitoring
  • Watering
  • Turning
  • Emptying
  • Spreading
  • Worms are often added which is futile as they die when the temperature heats up
  • The right combination of matter is critical or the tumbler can turn into a big smelly slushy mess that no one wants to touch
  • Two are required – while one is decomposing a second one is being filled
  • Too much turning is no good while too little turning is equally as bad
  • Only certain foods can be added and it takes a long time to decompose
  • It requires a large amount of green waste to obtain only a small amount of compost
  • It requires ongoing heavy work that some people find too hard
  • Having said that – it is great exercise for some people
  • It is visible and takes up space in your garden especially if you have two
  • If you don’t turn them the contents will clump together at the base like a big blob, making it extremely difficult to turn and empty.
  • If not insulated they will only work in summer
  • If they get infested with the Soldier fly it can be unpleasant for some people when they open the door and all the flies fly out at them.  Same as in a worm farm.
  • The Soldier Flies can make it smell putrid
  • Great for your green waste but too much won’t fit depending on the size
  • You do need to chop up your green waste to fit in some styles and to decompose quicker
  • If you don’t turn them the acid produced from food waste can rot out the bottom especially if it is made of metal.  A common problem when people forget to turn them
  • They have been known to smell terrible depending on what you put in them
  • You would have to monitor the heat generated inside much like the open air method
  • Small ones can be purchased instead of big ones which can therefore save on space.
  • Double ones can be purchased so you can rotate filling them, and resting one.
  • Produces beautiful compost after it has sat for a few months
  • You can’t put ALL your kitchen waste in these systems.
  • If you do none of these things and just toss your waste in and let it sit and decompose slowly it will work but it will be very hard to eventually turn and empty
  • Much like the open air method you need two to three depending on the amount of waste you have for them to work efficiently; therefore
  • it can take up space in the garden
  • is visible; &
  • requires work

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