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Newbie who got off to a good start but now the temp is falling

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  • EnlightenedElm
    replied
    Hi Bellarho,

    Give your HOTBIN a generous feed of predominantly easy to digest types of waste (vegetable peelings, grass cuttings etc) along with the corresponding volumes of shredded paper and bulking agent a day or so before you go away.

    When you get back, stock pile some easy to digest waste so that you can give your HOTBIN another generous feed within a week or two of getting back. Make sure to add in the corresponding volumes of shredded paper and bulking agent with the waste.

    If the internal temperature drops to below 15°C while you are away, add in the kick start bottle to help give the hot composting bacteria a boost.

    Going forward, continue to add some fresh material, bulking agent and shredded paper into the HOTBIN every couple of days and you should see the HOTBIN's temperature return to hot composting temperatures.

    We hope this helps.

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  • bellarho
    replied
    ONE MORE QUERY - I am going away for a couple of months in March and April and there will be no one to feed the hotbin. What is the best thing to do?

    Thanks....bellarho

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  • bellarho
    replied
    Many thanks. Will let you know how it all goes next year....

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  • EnlightenedElm
    replied
    Hi there Bellarho,

    Happy New Year!!

    We would recommend digging any removed material from your HOTBIN into your flower/vegetable beds. The worms should then help to further break down this material for you in situ.

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  • bellarho
    replied
    Hi again, if I empty out my hotbin as much as I can and put it on the flower/vege beds as mentioned above, should I dig it in or just leave on top for the worms (imported from Yorkshire) to do their job? Also if just leaving it on top, is it worth covering with weed suppressor or is that a waste of time/

    Any tips welcomed and happy new year to one and all.

    Bellarho

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  • bellarho
    replied
    thanks for all the tips. Maybe my Chrissie presy this year will be a hotbin digesting everything properly.
    Bellarho

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  • WiseOldBloak
    replied
    Good to have you back Bellarho.

    That does sound like a very good idea to me, poor air flow can have a serious effect on temperature so cleaning out the base could work wonders. More twigs also a good idea to prevent the aeration holes getting blocked. Finally, if you are adding partially composted material it is a good idea to mix it in with fresh waste to give the bacteria some more easy to digest waste as the bacteria may have consumed most of the energy from the uncomposted stuff!

    Hope this helps

    Have a great Christmas

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  • bellarho
    replied
    Hi, at last got back again onto the forum! The internal temperature which I was asked to give by the Hotbin team is no more than 15/20.
    What I was thinking of doing, when the weather is a little more clement, is to remove all the half composted stuff at the bottom, clean out the grid etc. well and then relay twigs etc. and start again with the uncomposted stuff at the top.
    Does this sound like a good idea? Can't think of anything more to do and my flower beds (moved house recently and beds need lots of tlc)could do with the contents to "chew over" during the winter months.
    Thanks for all advice - just this last query to be answered please.

    Bellarho

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  • EnlightenedElm
    replied
    Hi Jondy,

    Thank you for your help and feedback above. As you mention, the amount of paper required unfortunately is dependent upon the types, quantity and frequency with which each individual 'feeds' their HOTBIN. Consequently, some users will find that they need to add more paper than we recommend as a general guide in the HOTBIN user manual.

    If any HOTBIN user is unsure as to exactly how much paper (and bulking agent) they should add into their HOTBIN, please contact the HOTBIN Team at [email protected] and we will be delighted to provide some tailored recommendations.

    Whilst a screw can be used in the HOTBIN, if sufficient bulking agent is added and the new waste is mixed well once added, the bulking agent should ensure that the unit stays aerated and that no impermeable layers are created. If you do wish to continue using the screw, please take great care in doing so as this could damage to the HOTBIN walls and base.

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  • Jondy
    replied
    Hi bellaro.
    I have been having similar problems with my hotbin. I contacted the hotbin team for advice and followed it.
    I have found that increasing the amount of paper has helped my situation, I roughly add double what is recommended, although this will depend on the type of waste you are adding.
    I have at home a large type of screw anchor. (The type you use for securing a dogs lead in the garden see photo below). I have found this good for screwing into the compost and pulling up to break down any impervious layers of waste to increase air flow. Care is needed not to screw into the base of the bin so you need to do a rough measure first and stop before it reaches the bottom. It’s easy to use and requires very little effort to pull out. A garden fork seems a little aggressive for the bin?
    The above post from the admin team should get you up and running again. Hope it’s soon.

    Leave a comment:


  • EnlightenedElm
    replied
    Hi Bellarho,

    Having carefully analysed the information and photographs you have sent over, we have a couple of recommendations for you which we hope will help to improve the performance of your HOTBIN.

    Mixing the contents of your HOTBIN

    You mention that due to the length of the raking stick provided, you cannot turn the contents of your HOTBIN beyond the top layer to aerate the material. Going forward, we would advise against turning the heap at all as the action brings the cooler material from the bottom of the unit into the hotter, more active layer of material at the top of the unit and causes heat to be transferred to the wrong material. This in turn usually results in the HOTBIN’s internal dropping as the bacteria are forced to try and generate new heat to compensate for what has transferred.

    Please be assured that as long as you are adding sufficient bulking agent every time new waste is added to the unit and are emptying some material from the HOTBIN every 3-4 months, you should not need to turn the contents of the unit as the bulking agent aerates the waste in the HOTBIN for you. This should hopefully save you a back breaking job too!

    Temperature readings

    We understand that the lid thermometer reading is between 10-20°C. Can we ask whether it would be possible for you to take an internal temperature reading using the long stemmed thermometer and let us know how your HOTBIN is performing internally?

    The reason for us asking this is that it is common for the HOTBIN’s lid thermometer to read a significantly lower temperature than that of the internal thermometer (regrettably we cannot provide you with an estimate of exactly how much as this differs day to day and user to user). Users can however experience a difference of 20°C between the two readings and still have a HOTBIN which is successfully hot composting.

    The lid thermometer is there to serve as a guide, with the internal thermometer supplied for the accurate recording of the internal temperature. The reason for the temperature differentiation between the two thermometers is two-fold;
    • First being that the increased distance between the lid thermometer and the hottest, most active waste is always greater than that of the internal thermometer which is inserted directly into this material.
    • Secondly, the lid thermometer reading is also taking the temperature of the water vapour leaving the unit into account and so as the water vapour passes by the thermometer stem before leaving the HOTBIN via the valve on the lid, the vapour has a cooling effect on the temperature reading.

    Ideally, to get the most accurate temperature reading for your HOTBIN’s hottest, most active layer, the internal thermometer only needs to be inserted into the top 5-10cm of waste.

    Amount of waste being added

    We appreciate that you have answered this question earlier, however we are a little unsure of exactly what you were referring to (please accept our apologies for this); would it be possible for you to clarify roughly how much waste is being added into your HOTBIN each week as a total volume e.g.5 kg of waste (volume), 10 kg etc.?

    In addition to this waste, roughly how much shredded paper and bulking agent is added in terms of handfuls each week? Does the amount of bulking agent and paper remain the same for each feed or do the amounts added change depending on the quantity of waste being added?

    You mentioned in an earlier post that you have added both shredded paper and cardboard into your HOTBIN. Which out of the following options would you say best describes your situation:
    • More paper is added than card
    • Paper and cardboard volumes are relatively evenly balanced
    • More cardboard is added than paper

    Furthermore, can we ask, when cardboard is added, in what sized pieces do they go into the HOTBIN?

    Leaves and the HOTBIN

    We appreciate that leaves are not being added into your HOTBIN in great quantities however, they unfortunately remain identifiable as leaves at varying different levels within the contents of your HOTBIN. Due to the nature of leaves, as they become compacted under the increasing weight of the material above, they often begin to form a dense and solid layer within the unit. As a result, leaves can restrict airflow within the HOTBIN overtime and cause the internal temperature to stubbornly remain below hot composting temperatures which is likely to be one of the underlying causes here.

    If you would like to add leaves into your HOTBIN going forward, please be assured that you can do so. We would however recommend adding them into the HOTBIN very gradually and if possible, either roughly chopped or shredded. We appreciate that this may be more labour intensive, however the smaller the item, the larger the surface area available to the hot composting bacteria and the quicker the waste will decompose. To speed up the job, a number of our customers run over a pile of leaves with the lawn mower first to break them into smaller pieces before adding them to their HOTBIN. This should help to allow oxygenated air through your HOTBIN and provide the hot composting bacteria with sufficient oxygen to work optimally. In turn, this should help to increase your HOTBIN’s internal temperature.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

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  • EnlightenedElm
    replied
    Dear Bellarho,

    Thank you for your photographs and for answers our questions. We are analysing this information now and hope to be able to come back to you with some recommendations in the next day or so.

    The HOTBIN Team

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  • bellarho
    replied
    Dear Hotbin, hope these pix show the state of my HB clearly enough. Look forward to your advice and comments.
    Bellarho

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  • bellarho
    replied
    At last here at the photos - sorry computer died on me yesterday.
    Thanks for advice and help.
    Bellarho
    p.s. when opened hatch there didn't appear to be a nasty smell

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  • bellarho
    replied
    Dear Hotbin, Answers are below

    lid thermometer
    kitchen waste and shredded paper and grass clippings and leaves (not many tho)
    maybe not adding often enough - approx 3 times a week and a couple of handfuls of each of the above and bark chippings
    added approx 3 times a week - sometimes more often and sometimes less often
    handfuls of bark chippings per handful of waste and same of paper
    currently Hotbin is about half full
    restarted about 3 months ago I suppose - not sure
    it is open about 2mm but that is hard to measure!
    must admit am only stirring top layer as it is rather difficult to reach down and stir the lower layers with the supplied tool - have tried with a garden fork but am not strong enough to lift it all around from such a difficult angle
    I will email the photographs sometime this week - if that is OK.

    Thanks - Bellarho

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