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EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated April 2020 with information on how composter is performing after a year of use.
I’ve been composting for several years using a variety of compost containers, both store-bought and homemade. When the Gardenline 18.5 Gallon Tumbling Composter showed up at Aldi, I looked forward to trying it.
Aldi’s composter sold for $39.99 at the time of publication. It’s manufactured by D.F. Omer, an international company based out of Israel that produces a variety of garden products, including garden tools, raised garden beds, planters, and composters. Some of D. F. Omer’s composters are sold under the Miracle-Gro brand label. This specific composter looks exactly like a Miracle-Gro-branded composter currently selling for about $60 on Amazon.
The Gardenline composter is packaged in a flat box that easily fits in any vehicle, so getting it home should be no problem. The box advertises that the composter will produce “ready to use compost in 4-6 weeks.”
If you’re not familiar with what compost is, it involves turning kitchen scraps such as fruit and veggie peels and cores into new, rich, healthy soil to use in gardens, potted plants, landscaping beds, and even as a top dressing fertilizer on your lawn. It’s a natural fertilizer without chemicals, and it can keep a significant amount of waste out of landfills. When done well, it also should not attract pests like rodents or animals. (For more comprehensive information on how to make compost, read my post about composting at our sister site, A Well Advised Life.)
The Aldi tumbling composter includes the following features:
- fast and easy assembly
- a convenient sliding door for adding materials and harvesting compost
- a chamber locking mechanism to prevent the tumbler from turning when not in use
- heavy-duty all-season construction
- an internal mixing bar
- UV protected
- a 2-year warranty
The box the composter comes in makes a compelling case for why it’s good to compost, stating:
Compost is nature’s way of recycling and has many benefits. Composting reduces the amount of organic waste that goes into trash collection and landfill. Compost contains a full range of essential plant nutrients and decreases need for fertilizer. Compost alters soil composition, making it less likely to erode and easier to work. Compost promotes healthy root system(s).
As someone experienced at making compost, I think the large illustration on the box that states “no hand mixing needed” and shows a gardener’s gloved hands mixing up slimy decomposing veggies and other organic material in a compost bin is a bit silly. Most people, if they are not using a tumbler device, mix their compost with a sturdy shovel or other tool and not their hands.
Assembly and After-Sale Support
Assembly of Aldi’s tumbling composter was fairly straightforward and does require a Philips screwdriver. I was able put it together by myself in a short amount of time with just the manual, but you can also find detailed step-by-step instructions, with both pictures and video, on the manufacturer’s website. (There is also a QR link on the manual to a how-to-video, although right now that video shows that it is unavailable.)
Pay close attention to step 2 in the directions. The smaller panels that make up the bin have arrows on one side, and you want those arrows to all face the same direction when you snap the panels together.
Also, I needed to use a rubber mallet to gently tap the mixing bar into place in the bin.
In addition to the assembly instructions, the manual is worth a thorough read because it includes detailed information on why people should compost, how composting is environmentally friendly, and plenty of tips about how to produce compost, including information on achieving a good nitrogen/carbon ratio in your bin (don’t worry; it’s not as hard or intimidating as it sounds).
The manual also has a chart listing all the types of ingredients that can be put in the composter (fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, grass clippings, garden plants, eggshells, leaves, cardboard, etc.) and what ingredients to leave out (meat, fish, fats, bones, dairy products, cooking oil, dog and cat feces, etc.) It was interesting to see paper products listed as something to leave out of the composter. The manual recommends recycling paper products because they may contain chemicals that are bad for your compost. I’ve had other composting experts tell me to put paper products like junk mail in my compost bin, so use your discretion on that one.
Also, the manual has a troubleshooting chart with tips if your compost has an odor or is not breaking down, and it offers advice on when and how to use your finished compost and where to locate your composter.
As mentioned above, the Gardenline composter has a 2-year warranty, which is serviced by the manufacturer, D.F. Omer. For after-sale support, the composter’s box and manual say to call 720-584-0278 or visit the website www.dfomer.com. The site has a dedicated contact page where you can send an email and attach any related photos.
At 18.5 gallons, Aldi’s tumbling composter is small, with a volume of about 2.5 cubic feet, according to the manual. You might even call it cute. You also should be aware that the manual states its weight capacity is 44 pounds. It’s perfect for single people or couples, or for people who live in apartments, as this could fit discreetly in a corner on a patio or balcony. It can work fine for larger families as well, but you might consider purchasing two of the Gardenline composters so the materials in one bin can be “finishing” while you collect new materials in the second bin. Having two bins going is ideal regardless of size, so you aren’t mixing new ingredients into finished compost.
Still, you may find you need compost bins with more volume than what even two of the Aldi composters offer. While the tumbling feature is nice because it does help speed up decomposition, this will probably be a supplemental bin for my household. My main compost bin at this point is a stationary 80-gallon Earth Machine I got this spring (pictured below), and prior to that I used a pair of plastic trash cans with holes drilled into them, both of which hold a lot more material and have no weight limits compared to the Aldi tumbling composter.
Because of the Gardenline tumbling composter’s smaller footprint and tall upright position, it might be a good idea to anchor or stake the composter to the ground, and make sure it’s placed on level ground. Perhaps it will be fine, but without some type of anchor, I’m not sure how well it will stand up during times of high winds.
After using it for about a week, I noticed some of the side panels were not completely snapped into place in the bin anymore, and I had to pop them back together. It seems that the weight of the material placed inside put some strain on the bin, particularly where the panels connect. The tumbler is pretty full, but I don’t think I’ve hit the 44-pound weight limit. To avoid bigger problems, I’m not sure I’ll add any more material for now, though, and I’ll keep an eye on the composter to see how it holds together as more time passes.
UPDATE (April 2020): I’ve been using Aldi’s tumbling composter for nearly a year now. On a positive note, I’ve not had any problems with it tipping over, even on windy days. As for how well it produces compost, it works okay, but it takes a long time for materials to break down inside the tumbler. I think that’s due to two things: 1) it does not hold much material, and compost is created more easily when you have a larger mass, and 2) worms and bugs that help to break down the material don’t have easy access to the compost bin. I put new material in my Aldi bin occasionally, but because of its limitations I put 99% of my compostable material into my 80-gallon Earth Machine bin instead. The Aldi composter is good if you have no bare ground and want to make compost on a patio or deck, but otherwise I’d go for one of the larger bins on the market for more efficient and faster results.
Aldi’s Gardenline 18.5 Gallon Tumbling Composter is a good way to reduce landfill waste and create healthy fertilizer or garden soil. It was easy to assemble and is easy to use. One potential drawback is that it is smaller than a lot of other composters on the market, and because of its small volume it takes a long time for materials to break down. You might consider purchasing two composters so the materials in one bin can “finish” while you continue adding new materials to the second bin. The composter has a weight limit of 44 pounds, and after it gets full (which happens quickly for a family of four), the connecting panels may need to be snapped back together from time to time due to the strain caused by the weight in the bin.