Input needed-Owners of Compost Tumbler,Mantis Twin ,Sun-Mar

yellow_rose_man(z3 Ont.)May 23, 2009

Hi everyone,to owners of these tumblers I would appreciate your input,positive and especially negative.I have been searching archives in different forums,and have decided on one of these three models?,but input from owners would greatly help to mae the final decision.


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anubis_pa(z5 PA)

For me a compost tumbler helps because I wouldn't bury scraps every day, and the tumbler keeps the animals out. I have a video of one of the local bears playing with it, it's annoying setting it back up but I'd probably not compost without it. If I didn't have a half mile of woods between me and town I probably wouldn't bother with one though.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 11:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Not a fan of tumblers but I'll bite my tongue. ;)

If the GW search was working right now I could pull up several past discussions on each - by brand name - for you. But if you go to Google and type in '________(the brand name) review gardenweb' it will pull up some of the past discussions here on them for you to read if you wish.

Also Google 'customer reviews __________ (brand name)compost tumbler' gets you reviews to read from various sites like

Last, the Tool Shed forum here at GW also has some reviews of them as does the Rate & Review Vendors forum here. Hopefully the SE will be fixed early next week so it will be easier to find those reviews then.

Hope this helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: ToolTalk review of Mantis Twin

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 12:05PM
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I suspect there won't be a lot of responses because people are tired of being criticized for "wasting" their money or their time or possibly they don't want to be subjected to the criticism that seems to follow any admission of ownership of such a device.

I suspect they are tired of some folks telling them they got sold a pig in a poke so to speak.

I suspect they're tired of having to defend their decisions even though none of us have direct knowledge of their particular circumstances and what led them to purchasing a unit.

But I could be way off track.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 2:40PM
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I have two of the units you mention, the Compost Tumbler and the Mantis Twin. I bought the Mantis twin from Amazon a couple of years ago when they were running a $100 off tools and free shipping. The compost tumbler I got off Craig's list for $75. I also have a few Biostack units.

I like all three of them for different reasons.

The twin allows you to process one side while still adding scraps to the other.

The tumbler allows you to do larger batches

The biostack allows me to cold compost over the winter and to season compost that is processed using the tumblers.

The tumblers are expensive, unless you pick up a used one, but they are much nicer if you are a lazy gardener like I am.

Here is what I said about the Twin on Amazon.

I am a lazy gardener. Don't get me wrong, I love to spend time in the garden but I hate to spend it doing something that could be done easier. What does that have to do with making compost? Everything!

I do not turn my compost bins. I let the worms take care of it for me, but they are not the fast workers. It takes about a year for me to get a batch of compost. That is ok with me. I have multiple bins going. But, I have always thought that a tumbler would be the way to go. I could crank it everyday, as long as I remember, and compost would come out every two weeks. What was stopping me? A few things.

- $500 for a composter?
- the legs look flimsy
- does it really work fast?
- Is it big enough?
- How well is it built?

Well, I bought one. It got to me in less than a week during the heavy Christmas mailing season. WAY TO GO AMAZON!

The legs are very strong. Steel support and the barrel is well designed. Emptying the compost is so easy. Just pull a wheel barrel under it and turn the crank.

It is plenty big enough. In fact, I am having trouble feeding it.

Compost in 14 days? Not for me. Did I tell you I was lazy? Maybe I do not grind things up enough or maybe my recipe is not perfect, I don't know. What I do know is it speeds up the whole process with very little effort on my part. In a couple of days the mixture is very warm. By the end of two or three weeks the mixture is cool again, moist, and about half finished. Perfect for putting in my old bins for a month or two of seasoning.

You'll notice I have not discussed the $500. That is for you to decide on. I just know that I will get good compost, much faster, and with far less work than before. All I need now is to make friends with a professional gardener so I can take some of the leaves and grass clippings he is collecting. Did I say I am having trouble feeding it?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 4:15PM
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There are dozens if not hundreds of opinions about these products on this forum and more on other forums.

A Search for 'compostumbler' found only 5 hits, but one had 150 posts in it, and more would have been found had I spelled it differently.

My experience had been such that I cannot recommend any tumbler. I found it expensive, hard to use, poor in the winter, subject to clumping, small compared to mesh bins, etc. The middle bar broke in the middle after three years, but I had already given it up.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 4:02PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I have a ComposTumbler that I found on craigslist for about $100 last year. I hesitated to post here because I don't really use it the way it is supposed to be used, I think, so I don't know if I feel comfortable recommending it - or not.

I never got a manual, so I don't know the recommended steps (ratios, turning, etc.) and so I don't expect compost in 14 days or whatever it is they advertise.

But I do like mine for a few reasons. It is quite large, larger than my black bin composters or my garbage can composters. It does compost more quickly than the other bins I have (probably due to it's bigger size). It certainly is easier to turn - not that I really turn my other bins, but that's because they are small and hard to turn.

Even the tumbler, I pretty much only turn when I add stuff to it, or maybe if I happen to be near it I'll give it a spin.

So, am I happy with my ComposTumbler? Yes, I am. I'm on the lookout for another if I can get it for a good price. But I don't know that I would recommend it to someone only because composting is a personal thing, and everyone has different expectations, wants compost in such-and-such amount of time, wants it finished to a certain degree, etc. For instance, I am more than happy with half-finished compost because I build a lot of lasagne beds and I use half-finished compost in these.

I also can't compare it to the others you mentioned.

So I will only say that I am happy with mine, although I don't use it as it was meant to be used. I don't know if this was any help or not, but I did want to put in a positive word since there seems to be so much negativity towards the tumblers.

Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 10:52PM
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This thread is slightly old but gotta add my two cents.

I used to have an open compost bin, lots of enthusiasm but not much experience. Lived in downtown dc, had decent compost BUT was soon adding to the rat population with my composting efforts. They had set up a nice little breeding hotel in my bin. (I still shudder at the memory of finding the FULL nest...)

Moved to suburbs, where lo and behold, rats still a problem (nearby streams, neighbors with dogs (poop, outdoor food, etc.)) and not wanting to throw away my kitchen scraps and 1/4 acre yard debris, bought a compost twin. Mostly though, I didn't want to support rats, and a tumbler eliminates rats in compost. So for those with vermin issues, tumblers are a no-brainer.

I have two wire pens next to the tumbler where I store shredded winter leaves (some bagged to keep dry) in one and grass clippings in the other (in the summer). One challenge is maintaining an adequate store of browns for an entire year based on one month of tree leaf availability.

The biggest problem I have found with the tumbler (I have the twin) after using it for two years is moisture management. Admittedly, it has been a wet spring, but no end of saved shredded brown leaves seems to sop that stuff up. I collect the drippings, but all the moisture seriously slows down the composting. Also, I have the compost ball problem as well. More and more leaves would help but have had to resort to rationing them.

However, considering my alternatives (rats or no compost at all) I have found it produces very good compost, and I turn it about every other day.

Also, I got tired of maintaining both a worm bin and compost bin and have for two years maintained a fairly healthy red worm population (thousands of them in each bin) without replenishing them, or really doing anything other than I would do for composting alone. Wormies survive cold winters and scorching summers (bin in about 4-6 hours of direct sun/day). This success is most likely related to my suboptimal success at getting a hot pile, but hey, vermicompost is pretty good stuff too! Anyway, that just one person's experience. Oh yeah, I have become very well aquainted with the anatomy of soldier fly larvae-they can make the whole pile inside the bin move, and the larvae shells dot my beds-they take forever to break down-pretty cool!

So for certain people (rat-prone and rat-averse) a tumbler is the ONLY option if you want to compost.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 6:55PM
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leearnold(z5 In.)

I had a Compost Tumbler several years ago and loved it! We jokingly called it the "black hole". I used it to get rid of organic material. Every week when I would cut the grass, in it goes. Kitchen scraps? In they go. Leaves? yep, them too. Shredded paper? that too. I just kept putting material in, made sure the moisture level was good, and seldom took anything out. But when I did - Oh My, It was wonderful stuff.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 6:04PM
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To the paigeroo poster: I'm looking for a composter and have having a hard time figuring out one that's right. I noticed you said you live in d.c. suburb. I do too. I'd be interested in talking more to you about it (as you have experience with the HOT summers, etc.). If you have a chance, please email me off line. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:19PM
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whatever, compost snobs
I live in a city and have been using a tumbler nonstop since 2003 and I love it. If it doesn't turn out perfect I don't run around pouting, I separate the good from the bad, start the bad over and get on with my life. It suits my purpose just right and I love it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 7:27PM
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I was wrong! There are tumbler lovers willing to speak out!

Tumbler lovers unite!


P.S. I loves my tumblers.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 7:56PM
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i been tumbling diy style for 8months now.

pics below

The tumbler works great for me i like turning it, i have it on the ground now. I load it up with hm/ bedding than keep adding kitchen scrap. 2-3 weeks i get a nice mulch type stuff out from the rough screening and small amount of black gold for covering seed and such anything not finished goes back in and i do it again. My garden loves it and i only take my garbage out every other week now:)

tip feed the uncomposted stuff to your worms


    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 9:55AM
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I bought a compost tumbler to pre-compost a lot of greens -- 25-50 pounds per week. I add M-F with paper. It stays wet and forms baseball to softball sized compost goo balls. I feed them to my worms and they tear them up. Happy as a compostor -- no, as a worm compostor -- very. I am hoping to be able to roll through the winter but we will see.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 9:52PM
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I used a Sun-Mar composter for a year and a half, and followed all of their instructions carefully. I found that it does not live up to its claims of separating the finished compost from the recent additions. At best it separated by size and what came out the end was about 85 percent composted. It came out in the form of hard dry balls, even though the material that remained in the drum was very wet. The lid fit very poorly, and on more than one occasion I scraped a knuckle trying to get it open or closed. Though it was on level ground, after about 9 months it started to lean to one side, and it eventually collapsed completely.
I am glad to be rid of it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 11:48AM
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I got a used Mantis Compost-Twin and I have used if for about a month now. My combination of grass clippings and shredded newspaper seems to be doing ok so far. It smells like grass clippings. The volume had decreased to about half of what I started with. I can understand people having trouble getting enough greens and browns to "feed" it.

I'm getting some of the little balls of compost that people sometimes mention. I've not busted up any of them yet - just cranking every few days and watching to see how it goes.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 4:13PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

@rookie09 - the upside down red wagon is brilliant! the whole design is genius. bravo!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 7:41PM
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My "some of the little balls of compost that people sometimes mention" has progressed to nearly the entire tumbler full of them. Does that tell you/me anything and/or what I ought to do about it?


    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 5:43PM
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I just got my tumbler together today. It's the original compost tumbler. I had been using 3 homemade tumblers made from 55 gal plastic drums. I couldn't fill it up yet though. My homemade ones are full and I am going to transfer the contents of the 3 homemade ones to this 1 mantis original one chambered one. The contents are too moist to transfer, I'm afraid that it will be a big lump if I don't wait for it to dry. The homemade ones worked good but, once full were hard to turn. The Orig tumbler is so large I should be able to put the 3 homemade barrels worth in this one and still have room. I will have to see if it can be turned easy after I fill it. I can tell I will need to add more browns, the manure smell is strong. I'll be going to the leaf dump as soon as possible. My only bad comment, so far at least is that the door doesnt fit as good as it should. Maybe it will take a while for the steel to form to hug the barrel body right. I can always add some hardware if everything else is good with the tumblers results.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 12:21AM
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The two sheet metal doors and the spring-catches are the least-favorite part of my Mantis Compost-Twin. I can understand how they were designed to be removable and inexpensive. But the door must be pulled towards you before latching. Otherwise the metal "hinge" tends to get bent.

The latch springs need to be held carefully when latching or unlatching slowly and carefully lest they fly off and likely get lost.

When fullish, this tumbler is difficult to turn. The compost inside "winds up" and then falls down. To get the tumbler to stay in a desired position for ventilation, etc., you much turn it about 1/8 turn past the desired end-position. Then it rolls back a ways since the compost inside is off-center. And be careful that when you release the crank handle, that it does not suddenly spring back and hit you! It could use some sort of crank handle brake.

I like this tumbler, but IMHO it could use a slightly better door, catch, and crank brake (None!) design.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 3:58AM
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I keep on 'crankin my Mantis Compost-Twin. Things seem to be progressing compost-wise. I'm getting lots of compost spheres which I suppose I should chop up somehow. But so far I've not bothered. I'm just watching them to see what they do on their own.

I have it on the south side of my house, in the sun. But that location is grassed and sloped, so it is not as desirable as a concrete pad that I have on the east side of my house. So I'm thinking that after I harvest or transfer the in-process compost into my trash can composters, I'll move it all to the side of the house to reduce my required effort to keep the grass string-trimmed around and under the tumbler.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 11:52AM
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I have it loaded and it is not too bad to turn considering how full it is. I may need to add blood meal, it's not very hot, but I will wait til spring to do that. It can stay loaded and if it's not done I'll play with it in spring. I have leaves and rabbit poo/pee bedding in it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 9:55PM
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"I've come to the conclusion that while I achieved black gold, it took longer that it should have because I was unable to take advantage of a southern exposure. It takes full sun to cook the waste, so correct placement of the unit will enhance its performance."

This from the Mantis review sited in the third post in this thread. "It takes full sun to cook the waste"? How about writing instead "since the heat generated comes from the the composting process, it matters very little if the Mantis is placed in the shade or sun. If it did make a difference, they would have made it flat black, not green"

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 2:13PM
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âÂÂMy "some of the little balls of compost that people sometimes mention" has progressed to nearly the entire tumbler full of them. Does that tell you/me anything and/or what I ought to do about it?âÂÂ

.. so does anybody know the outcome, someone must have experienced this already. I am about to dump the whole load and break it all up, because these balls are driving me mad. I want the compost to hurry-up and get finished.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 4:03PM
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I "harvested" my compost today from one side of my Mantis Compost-Twin. It looked about half full, way less volume than I started out with. I dumped out two small wheelbarrow loads, and now it does not look like there's much left in it at all. Cranking it is ridiculously easy now, so that confirms there is not much left.

I had been daydreaming about what all I'd do with my compost when the first batch got done. I've gotten a jolt of reality, I guess. Where I was thinking of putting inches of compost on the first flower bed that I worked on, the reality was I put a few shovelfuls sprinkled here and there, and that was all I had in the small garden wheelbarrow.

I'm not giving up on composting or anything like that. But at this rate, it will take me a decade or two to do much to my flower beds.

There is a local botanical garden which offers leaf compost loaded into your truck for a donation. I guess I need to explore that possibility.

Sadder but wiser Jim

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I'm getting balls of compost from my tumbler too. When I break them apart it looks like the inside is grass and leaves that haven't broken down. I went the tumbler route because the monthly turning of the biostack was hard on my back. However if I can't get this ball problem solved I may have to go back to the biostack even though I don't really have any room for it.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 11:39AM
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If it's balling, it is probably too wet. Let is sit and dry a bit, and then resume tumbling. You can also break up the balls/clods in the tumbler with something like a cultivator.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 12:25PM
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I had 2 of the one barreled tumblers. One of them fell off it's frame onto the ground when I was turning it this past spring. I just collected it's contents, which was mature compost, and spread it here and there. I have a full one yet in the yard that I have turned recently and will soon empty and use it's contents. The one that came apart I think had dried out and one clump fell on the opposite side of the barrel and the force made the barrel forcefully roll off the frame. I think that I will continue using the barrels for kitchen scraps and fall leaves, some bunny poo, but composting on the ground in future planting plots seems like you can better prepare a future garden plot by adding manure,wood chips, fall leaves, blood meal etc, directly to your plot

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 11:34PM
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I haven't emptied the full one yet. I still like the design and way the barrels are. I am not happy about the one that fell apart of course. I was sent 3 long steel dowels instead of 4. I tried to buy the needed part at a local big box store, instead of insisting the company send the extra dowel, I tried joining 2 pieces together that were inferior. Overall, though, it is probably best to add fall leaves, and other organic matter directly to the area you will eventually garden in if you can let it rot there for a good while before you plant there.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 2:04AM
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I have used a Mantis ComposTwin for 3 or 4 years. It was expensive but my annual cost of use is going down. It has paid for itself in terms of the amount of compost it has produced. It solves a huge problem for me in my area, my compost piles on the ground get infested with fire ants. there is no way to avoid or get rid of them and I hate getting bit.

I believe it is the best of the commercial tumblers.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 8:19AM
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