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Yimby Tumbler Composter: My Experience Using It

A Yimby tumbler composter sits in front of exterior wall, nest to plants growing in 5-gallon buckets.

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The Yimby tumbler composter is a dual-chamber spinning compost bin with 37 gallons of total capacity. The major benefits of the Yimby composter are a smooth tumbling mechanism, BPA-free polypropylene plastic bin with galvanized steel frame and ease of operation. 

I’ve loved the idea of composting for a long time. It’s a perfect way to recycle, and why keep spending money on store-bought compost or other soil amendments when you can just make it yourself? 

But I wasn’t sure if I had the space to compost on my small suburban lot, and I was a little worried about attracting animals.

But I finally sprang for a Yimby tumbler composter. 

I wrote this article to help answer some questions you might be having if you’re on the fence like I was. I took lots of photos and tracked the local environmental conditions to give you a better idea of what you might be able to expect for yourself. 

RELATED: Now that you have the ability to make your own compost at no cost, using it as mulch is a great idea in vegetable gardens or fruit orchards. Learn more in our post on using compost as mulch

Why I Chose the Yimby Tumbler Composter

As somewhat of a nerd, I enjoy doing thorough research for almost every purchase I make. This is especially true for one that’s going to set me back by about $100. 

I bought my composter from Amazon, and I looked at quite a few options before settling on the Yimby tumbler composter from FCMP Outdoor.

These features are what I liked about the Yimby:

FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Yimby Tumbling Composter Overview

FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Yimby Tumbling Composter Overview

Good Capacity

The Yimby’s bin capacity is 37 gallons, or about 5 cubic feet. At its widest point, the bin measures 23 inches across. That should be plenty for your average home garden, especially if you have lots of material to compost. 

Keep in mind that 37 gallons measures how much material you can put into your composter, not how much finished compost you will get. 

As organic materials break down, they lose mass. So the volume of compost you’ll achieve is less than the volume of material you put in. 

Still, you’re looking at quite a bit of finished compost coming from a 37-gallon bin.

And depending on environmental factors, how much/which material you put into your composter, you might be emptying a chamber of finished compost every few weeks. 

Deep Interior Fins

In addition to a large capacity, the bin also has deep fins on the interior walls to help agitate and “stir” the compost as you tumble it. 

Seven of the eight horizontal panels have four fins on their interior. (The eighth panel is the one with the opening and sliding bar.)

Also, each vertical side panel has eight fins, giving us a grand total of 44 fins. Here’s a photo pointing to some of them:

Arrows pointing to the Yimby tumbler composter fins on the interior sides of the bin.

Dual Chambers

The Yimby’s total bin capacity is split between two 18.5-gallon chambers, making for excellent composting efficiency.

Once one chamber gets full of all your compostable goodies, allow the friendly bacteria to do their thing while you start filling the other chamber.

After the first batch finishes, empty it out to make room for the next one. Hopefully by this time, the second side is full and can begin the composting process. 

Start filling your newly-emptied chamber, and back and forth you go.

If you prefer to make one large batch of compost at once, you could assemble the bin without the dividing wall.

However, that’s a decision you’ll need to make right off the bat, because the divider is not easily removable after assembly.

Made in North America

Although it’s not always possible, I try to buy products that are manufactured closer to home whenever I can.

The Yimby is manufactured by the Canadian company Forest City Models and Patterns, often seen as FCMP Outdoor.

BPA-Free Polypropylene Plastic

The bin is 100% polypropylene plastic, which is an industrial-grade plastic polymer that doesn’t contain BPA (bisphenol A). You can read more about polypropylene plastic in this helpful article from Healthline. 

I try to avoid BPA whenever I can, so this was a major point in the Yimby’s favor. 

Since I primarily grow vegetables and herbs, adding as few potentially harmful chemicals to my garden is important to me. 

Elevated Off the Ground

The top of the composter bin stands 35 inches tall, and the bin’s bottom is 13 inches off the ground. 

This is nice for a few reasons:

  1. Deters animals from getting in your compost. Now, I know that some determined animals can still manage to find their way into elevated containers. But the Yimby’s extra height at least reduces the likelihood of invasion. 
  2. No bending or stooping. A taller profile makes it easier for me to dump in my materials and tumble the bin without having to bend over.
  3. Easy to empty finished compost. Place a tarp or bucket on the ground under your bin, open the sliding panel and rotate the bin opening downwards. No scooping or wrestling with a bin!

4.5 Stars out of 11,000+ Amazon Reviews

According to the manufacturer, the Yimby was the first tumbler composter on the market, and it definitely has plenty of consumer experience to back it up!

So that was a reassuring point to me. 

Of course, there are some unsatisfied customers out there, but the majority of people rate the Yimby very positively. 

Other Tumbling Composters I Considered

Even though I settled on the Yimby, there were a couple of other contenders I thought had some good features too: 

FCMP Outdoor Half Size 19 Gallon Plastic Rolling Composter Tumbler Bin

FCMP Outdoor Half Size 19 Gallon Plastic Rolling Composter Tumbler Bin

What I liked about this one:

  • Costs less
  • Doesn’t take up much space
  • Lots of great Amazon reviews

Why I ultimately decided against it:

  • Low capacity
  • Sits on the ground, so it may be more vulnerable to animals
  • Looked more difficult to tumble and empty (but plenty of happy users claim it’s really not hard)

VIVOSUN Tumbling Composter Dual Rotating Batch Compost Bin 43 Gallon

VIVOSUN Tumbling Composter Dual Rotating Batch Compost Bin 43 Gallon

What I liked about this one:

  • Large capacity
  • Dual chambers
  • Looks solid and easy to tumble
  • A little less expensive than the Yimby (at the time I was shopping; that could change at any time)

Why I ultimately decided against it:

  • Foreign-made (biggest con for me)
  • Fewer reviews

Assembling the Yimby Tumbler Composter

My husband Chad is the “Chief Assembler of Things” in our home, and I’m beyond glad that he put the Yimby together for me. 

And that’s because the assembly is pretty tricky and the included instructions leave a lot to be desired.

The composter comes completely disassembled. Even though the instructions include illustrations, they’re quite vague as to which parts actually go together. You also have 56 screws with self-locking washers to place. 

Chad had to play around for a while to figure out how to attach the first panel piece, but once he did, the rest was much easier. I helped steady the bin as he did the final screw tightenings. (I’m helpful like that.)

From start to finish, assembly took about 2 hours. 

Here it is partially put together:

The Yimbly tumbler composter partially assembled.

And here it is fully assembled and in its home outside:

The Yimby tumbler composter fully assembled and place outside.

My recommendations:

  • Consider this a two-person job, and it’s best if at least one of those people is an experienced assembler.
  • Place all your screws lightly before going back and tightening each one. 
  • A power drill and appropriate bit will save you quite a bit of time.
  • The assembled product is fairly large, so make sure you can get it out of your assembly space when you’re done or assemble it outside.

Filling the Yimby Tumbler Composter

I immediately started filling my composter with kitchen scraps and paper products.

No matter which composting system you choose, achieving the right balance between nitrogen-heavy (green) materials and carbon-based (brown) ones is essential. 

Many experienced gardeners recommend green-brown ratios of anywhere between 50/50 to 1 part green to 3 parts brown. 

And trust me- they’re not kidding when they say this. I didn’t pay close enough attention to my green/brown balance, and I paid the price! More on that a little later on…

Green materials are things that were recently alive and are high in nitrogen, like:

  • Kitchen scraps
  • Fresh yard waste
  • Manure from herbivores

Brown materials are those that have had their nitrogen stores depleted over time, leaving just the carbon base. This group includes:

  • Dry shredded leaves
  • Certain types of paper products
  • Sawdust
  • Small twigs and pine needles 

Since it was late winter when I got the Yimby, I didn’t have any fall leaves or yard waste that I could add to the bin. I used paperboard egg cartons and unprinted brown cardboard, torn up into small pieces and wet down with water. 

I have no shortage of kitchen scraps, mainly fruit and vegetable peelings. 

Here’s a couple of pictures of my compost ingredients:

A bowl full of torn paperboard egg cartons and banana peels.
A bowl full of green material including potato peels and carrot tops.

I also added 2 trowel-fulls of soil from my garden to introduce beneficial bacteria. 

Yimby Tumbler Composter Function Over Time

Here’s what my bin looked like after 1 week:

Yimby tumbler compost bin after 1 week, with carrot peelings, pineapple top and potato peels.

Not much to see here. Everything still looks very recognizable, and nothing has broken down to any significant degree. On the plus side: There’s also no stinky odor. 

But our local weather wasn’t very cooperative for composting just then. Our daily highs hadn’t risen above the 40s, several nights were below freezing and we had an inch or two of snow one day. 

So, the lack of decomposition is not at all surprising. 

Running Into Composting Problems

As time went on over the next few weeks, though, I ran into some trouble. 

We had a very cold and dry spring, with freezing temps returning a few times all the way up until the second half of May. 

Those cold temperatures didn’t help the slow start I got on the decomposition process, and I added my own mistakes, too:

  • I created a green/brown imbalance (way too many greens, not enough browns)
  • I added too much water
  • I had too many large, sticky chunks that quickly formed clumps
  • I was returning the bin to the exact same position (with the opening facing upwards) every time after tumbling

All this left me with a stinky, lumpy mess of compost that I thought for a while was totally ruined.

There was a small amount of loose, slightly slimy material, but mostly what I had were a bunch of balls tumbling around instead of a crumbly texture:

Gardener holding a handful of compost clumps, which are hard, compacted balls of compost materials.

And it smelled absolutely terrible! I felt sorry for my neighbors whenever I tumbled the bin. 

I actually started to wonder if I may have to take a drive down an abandoned country road and dump my compost disaster in a ditch!

NOTE: I do not endorse disposing of waste on other people’s property. Plus, you’d have to put the stinkiness in your car, and take my word for it- you don’t want to do that!

Instead, I decided to experiment and see if this compost was salvageable. 

Fixing the Compost Problems

I manually broke up the clumps of decaying material, which was a yucky task to say the least. Inside the clumps, I found a lot of my wet egg carton pieces had stuck together, so they formed balls instead of breaking down. 

This is a broken-open clump, and you can easily see the solid remains of egg carton:

A compost clump broken up to reveal pieces of paperboard egg carton stuck together.

Another thing I realized was that some material was sticking to the bottom of the bin, most likely because I always left it with the opening facing up. So I had to reach all the way inside the bin to clear away compost that was stuck to the bottom (also gross).

After that, I made it a point to turn the bin to different positions after tumbling. 

To regain a better brown/green balance, I all but stopped adding greens and put in only browns. I used a lot of paperboard egg cartons! 

And where I had been tearing up and soaking the egg cartons before, I now just tore them up and put them in totally dry. I did that both to help absorb excess moisture and to avoid the clumping issue. 

Around this time, we had a farmer friend give us a large pile of well-rotted manure for the garden. I threw some larger manure chunks into the composter, in hopes that the friendly bacteria would give my compost a jump-start. 

NOTE: If you don’t have access to well-rotted manure, you can use a compost starter to add beneficial microbes to your tumbler. This organic formula from Jobe’s is a good option. 

Finally, I left the sliding panel totally off the bin during a few warm, sunny days to dry things out and introduce more air. 

Did the Compost Troubleshooting Work?

Would you believe it? After a few weeks of careful adjustment and persistence, the stench was completely gone, replaced by a wonderful earthy smell. And my compost was taking on a rich black, dirt-like appearance, which is exactly what we want. 

I ended up with beautiful compost by the middle of July. Here it is, but be aware that it looks a little damp because we’ve had several rainy days in a row lately: 

A handful of finished compost, with a rich black color and crumbly texture.

To get it out, I drug a tarp under the composter and spun the bin so the opening faced downwards. Then I opened the sliding panel and let the compost dump out. 

Here’s how much I got from one side of the bin that I had filled about half full before the serious problems started:

Compost emptied onto a tarp out of the Yimby tumbler composter.

Mid-July was about 16 weeks after I started using the Yimby. According to FCMP Outdoors, compost may finish in as little as 2 weeks, as long conditions are perfectly ideal. But most of the time, you can usually expect your compost to finish in somewhere between 10-12 weeks.

So I was definitely behind schedule. But not by that much!

And given my inexperience, multiple mistakes and less-than-ideal weather, I think that’s actually pretty good. I’m fully confident now that I can shorten my next composting cycle by a good bit. 

My Verdict of the Yimbly Tumbler Composter

Now that I’m past the initial learning curve, I totally love the Yimby tumbler composter and wish I had gotten one sooner. 

The primary pros:

  • Enclosed bin that keeps pests away and reduces odors
  • Perfect for use in suburban or urban settings
  • Produces compost much faster than a traditional compost pile 
  • Solid construction is well off the ground
  • The drum spins easily
  • Easy to put material in and empty compost out
  • You can reach all the way to the bottom of the bin if needed (I needed to)

The primary cons:

  • Takes some time to assemble and the directions are somewhat poor
  • Material can collect on the bottom of the bin if you return it to the same position all the time
  • Tumblers don’t turn compost as thoroughly as you would with a compost pile and pitchfork, so they’re more prone to forming clumps

Overall, I think that the pros far outweigh the cons, and the downsides are pretty much universal among all compost tumblers out there. 

The Yimby tumbler composter turned around the total mess I managed to make, so it gets my hearty approval!

Final Thoughts

Making your own compost at home is a great idea on so many levels:

  • Reduces your waste to the landfill
  • You know exactly what goes into your garden
  • Your compost is on-site and ready for use with no transport involved
  • Saves money
  • The sense of satisfaction that you did this! 

The Yimby tumbler composter is a great way to achieve all those points. And once you start, you may find that you enjoy composting so much that you make more than you can use in your garden. 

Time to share fresh compost with the whole neighborhood! 

We want to hear from you! Do you have any more questions about the Yimby tumbler composter? Or maybe you have some helpful composting tips to share?

Let us know in the comments!

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About Erinn Witz

Hi! I’m Erinn, a Midwestern gal who’s just as interested in honing my gardening skills as you are. I’m here to show you that if I can do this growing thing, seriously, YOU can too! 

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