What is a Rotating Compost Bin?

B. Miller

A rotating compost bin, also referred to as a compost tumbler, is a great way to speed up the composting process by allowing a more frequent stirring and aeration. Many people use a conventional compost bin to turn leftover food scraps into fertilizer, but the process can take months, and must frequently be turned over with a pitchfork or rake to aerate, and encourage the breakdown of the food. Rotating compost bins place the bin horizontally on a stand, with a handle that makes the bin easy to turn.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

With every turn of the rotating compost bin, the food begins to break down more quickly — the bins retain moisture and heat, and keep the food mixed well. Some say that using a rotating compost bin can cut the time it takes for food scraps to turn into compost from a few months to a few weeks. Most rotating compost bins are large plastic or metal bins with a small door on the side that can be latched closed, along with small holes for venting. The bins are mounted on a stand formed by two Xs on either side. Though it is possible to purchase these bins, many people decide to make their own, and specific directions with lists of materials and diagrams can be found easily by searching online.

There are many benefits to using a rotating compost bin as compared to a traditional compost bin or barrel, or even a compost pile. The rotating bins remain closed, keeping the odors inside. In addition, once the bin is closed, latched, and up off the ground, it becomes much more difficult for an animal to get into and make a mess. Composting in general is a great way to make natural fertilizer for a garden, and it also keeps garbage out of the dump, which is extremely beneficial for the environment.

Another benefit to using a rotating compost bin is that you can purchase or make one in any shape or size. Even if you live in a town, a small rotating compost bin outside can produce great organic fertilizer without smelling up the neighborhood. In general, compost bins should be kept in a sunny area if possible, and most people advise against adding meat or dairy products to the compost — but egg shells work very well. Other materials that might be added include vegetables, grass clippings, coffee grounds, fruit, and even paper. Search online for comprehensive lists on what can go into a compost bin.

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