FINDING THE "BEST" COMPOSTERFinding the "best" or right composter is more a choice of finding the right composting solution. It depends on factors like your environment, available materials, budget, and (a big issue) the time you're willing to commit to the endeavor.
Best Composting Solution
If you have the time to spend, no restrictions on land space or city regulations, lots of material, pest and odor control is not a big issue, then the best solution is to just dig a 4' x 8' x 1' trench, fill 4' high, cover and aerate it weekly. However, if you live in an urban environment, you may lack the space or desire to compost like this. In an urban environment people are usually more concerned about convenience, utilizing a clean and simple process that is safe for kids and pets to be around, and must work within local regulations concerning open composting resulting in pest and odor control issues. In this case, a compost tumbler is the BEST choice.
Problems recycling at home
While many people have been composting their yard and garden material they often forget their kitchen can also produce a lot of material that can be composted rather than being pushed down a garbage disposal for our wastewater treatment plants to deal with or thrown in the garbage headed for a landfill. Another plus is when you start taking material from your kitchen and mixing it in your compost the variety of materials usually improves the overall quality of your compost. However, even when being careful to include only vegetable materials, it frequently will start attracting more unwanted attention from all sorts of pests. Here again, compost tumblers are enclosed units elevated off the ground providing maximum pest resistance.
Trouble with Compost Bins
One of the more troublesome pests includes rodents. This is why in an urban setting open composting is really not a good idea unless you manage it very closely. When you buy a compost bin that sits on the ground, be sure it has a good quality base/floor. Many of the cheaper bins use thin material and some don't even have floors and rats, raccoons, possums, or dogs can easily dig into them.
For most people in an urban environment, a compost tumbler will be the most useful, effective, simplest, cleanest, and safest composting solution. Compost tumblers cost more the bins but provide so much more value that they are well worth the investment. What sets the Urban Compost Tumbler out from the crowed of tumblers is that it is the most rugged build composter and has a fully developed central aeration system designed into it.
Caution in selection a Compost Tumbler
A lot of people do not compost because they think it will take up too much time, is messy and smelly, and they don't want their landscaped yard with a pile of compost or flimsy compost bin in it. Frequently they don't own (nor want to) a pitch fork or tools to turn compost. If they have a choice on a nice Saturday morning of playing a round of golf or turning compost in their backyard…. guess what? That was our guess too so we specifically designed the Urban Compost Tumbler for people who want a clean, simple, and near trouble free composting solution.
Here is the CAUTION. Size does matter. While over simplifying a little, you need five (5) things to get quality compost; 1) a good carbon/nitrogen material mix, 2) moisture, 3) oxygen, 4) heat and 5) time. You can stuff some organic matter in a tin can and it will compost (rot) given enough time but it will probably not be quality compost. While no secret in the composting community, a lot of people do not appreciate the value and importance of compost HEATING. Heat from composting activity breaks material down faster while helping to destroy things like weed seeds, pervasive root structures and some pathogens that would be nice to do without.
Assuming you have a good brown and green mix (30:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen) properly moistened (wet but can't squeeze out water); you get heat from MATERIAL MASS and OXYGEN feeding the microorganisms. Making it easier to aerating material and getting oxygen in the mix is an important advantage of compost tumblers. They make it easier thereby encouraging people to aerate their compost more. But all the mixing in the world is not going to help a lot if you have insufficient mass to allow material to heat up and maintain it long enough to do any real good.
This is not about opinion but microbiology and physics as composting is about microorganisms and how they work (or don't work). Keeping these little guys happily working away is where you get the heat. The harder they work, the hotter it gets. Most composting experts will tell you that a compost pile with less than 10 cubic feet in mass will not heat effectively. I think the benefit of many of the fully enclosed compost bins and tumblers is that they help insulate the compost and hold the heat in far better than just an open pile so a little smaller mass can still heat. However as you drop below 9 cubic feet the odds are the heating ability is dropping rapidly and as you fall below 7 cubic feet, it's not going to happen.
That is why in composting bigger is better. You can find at lot of inexpensive compost tumblers in places like Lowes, Home Depot, Costco, Sam's Club and many more places are typically less than 7 cubic feet in capacity. They are less expensive but frequently are cheaply made imports from China. They will still compost, you just won't get as good a quality or as fast as well heated compost and they don't hold up as well over time.
There are many articles written on why adding compost to our soil is so important for everything from growing quality vegetables, herbs, having more colorful flowers to reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides. Another important value of composting at home is to recycle things as close to the source as you can. Avoid transporting material to landfills or sending through the garbage disposal headed for the water treatment facilities. While you can buy compost, you cannot always be sure what exactly is in it. By composting at home and creating your own organic compost you'll know. While some refer to the refuse coming out of our yards, gardens, and kitchen as waste, it is actually a resource. The only waste is not to recycle it. Whether buying a compost tumbler, bin, or building your own composter in your backyard, give it a try.