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How to Use a Composter

By Stephanie Green ; Updated September 21, 2017

If you'd like to skip the manual labor that the old-fashioned method of making compost requires, then a compost tumbler may be for you. With a compost tumbler, gardeners get the benefit of compost material without the often backbreaking work it requires. So, turn over a new leaf and give your composter a few turns, then watch gardeners gold grow in your composter.

Decide how much compost you need or want to make. Composters come with barrels of different sizes with the capacity to hold either bushels of yard waste or smaller amounts for back-porch use. Consider how much effort you want to put into loading, mixing and unloading your composter. There are spherical barrels that roll on the ground or horizontal or vertical barrels designed to be contained on stands. Composters are also available with a number of options, such as cranks, paddles and even piping—all designed to speed up the composting process.

Load the composter with green and brown waste, just as you would for a traditional compost pile. Follow this ratio of materials. Fill the composter with 75 percent of green materials (yard waste) and 25 percent of brown material (kitchen waste). Because green materials contain moisture, using too much will produce muddy compost. Use small-size pieces of material, as they will break down faster and produce the end product sooner.

Turn your composter with care. Give your composter several good turns once it is filled with materials. Turn the composter at least twice a week or up to as many as four. Don't turn more than that, as it will not allow the proper amount of heat to build up and start the decomposition process. The ideal temperature in a compost tumbler is anything above 130 degrees F.

Place your tumbler in direct sunlight to help generate the optimal temperature. In about one month, the materials will decompose into compost and be ready for use.


Things You Will Need

  • Yard waste
  • Kitchen waste

About the Author


Stephanie Green is a writer with more than 10 years of experience. Her work has been published in various lifestyle and trade publications, covering parenting, gardening and human-interest stories. Green holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.