No announcement yet.

No grass, plus winter

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • No grass, plus winter

    We have a very tiny (10x20 foot) garden that is mostly raised beds. This means I really have no grass, plus I'm trying to get this hot bin started as winter is setting in here in Ireland. I'm wondering if we might be better off waiting until spring.
    Also, I have the mini bin and was completely stunned by the amount of grass and spoiled fruit used in the YouTube video. All I have is kitchen waste (veg/fruit cores and peelings and lots of tea bags), twigs, the bag of bulking agent and newspapers I'll have to hand shred. Is this enough to get started with?
    This is all much more complicated than I expected, with much more specific requirements than I can imagine fulfilling. I'm discouraged before I begin.

  • #2
    The challenge isn't so much getting it started, but maintaining the heat. You will struggle if you can't supply enough material. The higher the temperature, the quicker the composter will burn through the material. You don't need grass, but you do need green material of some sort, fruit, veg, potato peelings etc. I have the large hotbin, and I need to 'import' quite a bit of material from another garden, and cardboard boxes from the local shop, to keep the temp up all winter. I'm in Northern Ireland


    • #3
      Hi, I'm in the same position, small garden, a Hotbin Mini and no grass. I've had mine for two years now and I've only manage to get it up to a decent temperature once in the summer when it's really hot outside and I managed to scrounge some grass clippings from a friend. I personally think the Hotbin mini is more difficult to get hot and I also didn't fully appreciate the amount of attention it needs. Every two days I had to feed it and if I left it for a day too long it would go cold. I've never had anything like the compost they say you can get on the adverts. I'm putting more paper and cardboard in than food waste and it's still not composting properly. You are the only other person with a Hotbin mini that I have come across and I think it's telling that there is only one review for the mini on their website. Mine now has gone cold again, lower than the 30C it usually is, but it's too full to put any new stuff in and it's not even been three months since I took a load of wet, decomposing material out of the bottom. That's the other thing, you can't take only some of the compost out of the bottom without all of the top stuff falling out. I've really persevered with mine, but it's not anywhere as easy as they make it out to be.
      Last edited by Foodgardening4all; 11-11-2021, 06:14 PM.


      • Mollysmum
        Mollysmum commented
        Editing a comment
        It does sound like a ravenous beastie … I’m on the brink of being a hotbinner your post v helpful.

    • #4
      Hello. I have a mini hotbin that I started using at beginning of September this year. After a slow start I have managed to keep it running at between 40°C and 60°C for most of the time. I produce 2 or 3 small caddies of food waste each week - mainly fruit & veg peelings plus tea bags. At the moment I have enough garden garden waste to top up the bin 50/50 food and garden waste.

      We don't have a lawn but I have collected it in a bag when grass in local park had been cut. If you have neighbours with lawns or any local facility with lawns I have found that gardeners are more than happy to give you fresh clippings - just give them a bag to fill or collect it yourself. Grass does seem to help. When grass stops growing in Winter my plan is to ask our local cafe whether they have any stale bread/cake that I can take off their hands - as this is supposed to break down easily and help generate heat.

      In addition to the above, the things that I have found helpful are:
      • Add lots of shre​​​​​dded ​​paper each time, plus small pieces of corrugated cardboard and bulking agent - food waste has loads of water that needs absorbing. (Newspaper is not ideal because its has a lot of lignin (woody stuff) that takes a long time to compost, compared to office paper, which has lignin removed in processing). If you know anyone who works in an office or has a home office then they probably shred paper that they have to dispose of. At the beginning I did not add enough paper/cardboard/bulking agent to absorb water and enable airflow.
      • Cut up garden and food waste into small pieces, aim for no more than 4cm size. I now leave out the cob from corn on the cob as it cant be cut small enough and is very tough.
      • Give everything (waste, paper etc) a really good mix, ideally before you put it in the bin.
      • Once you have got the bin going, when you add new stuff, use the stirring stick to mix some of the old, hot material underneath into the new stuff - I do this until I can see bits of the old material on top.
      After 60 days the bin went cold and there was no room at top for more waste. When I poked a stick down into the bin to see if I could increase airflow I could only go so far before it felt completely solid. I opened up the hatch and removed two bags full of mulch quality compost, it was very wet and solid but smelt OK. Removing the compost is a bit tricky but if you can find a square thin piece of metal, wood or plastic that fits into the bin then you can slide it is above the compost you want to remove, after digging out a 'slot' for it. l did this and it stopped most stuff falling down, I propped the wood up with 2 other bits of wood at each side - this meant I had space to check that air holes in base were clear and put some twigs on the base to encourage airflow before removing the props and allowing next layer to drop down.

      In the early days I did wonder if the smaller size of the bin was the reason for it not going above 40°C and I was a bit discouraged. In my experience the hotbin requires more regular attention than a cold compost heap but you can get compost much quicker and you dont have to worry about the heap drying out. The bin takes up much less space and mixing materials with a stick is easier than turning an entire cold compost heap. Days before my hotbin was delivered the local foxes worked out how to open the food waste bin put out for collection and I had to clear up the contents from the pavement - perhaps the foxes knew I was about to deprive them of an easy meal. 😀


      • #5
        Hi Strawberry - thanks v much for your helpful info. My mini arrived yesterday - feels like a new pet in the family! Already up to 40 but have used up all my put by waste etc thank goodness I didn’t get a big one.


        • #6
          Hi Mollysmum, sounds like you have made a great start.

          As there has been no fresh grass around for weeks, I have been getting leftover bread and pastries from the local cafe and they really help keep the temperature up and supplement the other waste when I dont have so to put in. I cut up the carbs like other food waste and mix it in. Any waste carbohydrate will do like cereals, biscuits, cake etc. Good luck with the bin.