No announcement yet.

My hotbin has taken off and gone into orbit ...

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • My hotbin has taken off and gone into orbit ...

    Well, in a manner of speaking. I've been struggling with it since last August when I set it up, since when it has varied between 10 and 20deg on the lid thermometer. I tried more or less everything mentioned here - and was having to remove lots of soggy partly-done compost from the bottom and put it in an old composter (which is now half full!), partly to try and dry the thing out, and then when it was full, to make room for more stuff. BUT three weeks ago, it suddenly decided conditions were just as it liked them, and took off - on Weds 17 March the lid thermometer was 22, the next day 32, the day after that 42, and on the Saturday 58! It was dramatic - and I keep expecting it to give up, but although it hasn't been 58 again, it's always been 30 or above, with internal temperatures of 40 or above (latter currently 50).

    So why the sudden change? Maybe it was an accumulation of improvements, with the deciding factor some tough reedy plant (added with the usual stuff and more weeds on Weds 17th) that I thought would be a problem, but clearly wasn't. Things I did, most gleaned from this forum:

    Put great efforts into drying everything - woodchips stored by the woodburner, weeds left to dry in the shed for a bit, teabags (we use a lot of those!) left to dry overnight
    Removed some of the old soggy stuff from the hotbin, and put some cardboard and twigs at the bottom of the hotbin
    Removed the carbon filter bag from the lid - this was dripping wet, and served no purpose since there's no smell
    When I added new stuff, stirred the different types up together in a box - otherwise some of the gooey food waste never mixes in properly - and then stirred it a bit into the stuff at the top of the bin

    - I think that's about it (except that I have also stopped putting so many apple peelings and cores in - we had been working through last autumn's apple crop). I didn't find the hot water bottle made any difference, however cool the bin had got. When I started, I was confused by the hotbin instructions giving recommended paper/cardboard quantities in handfuls and by volume! How much is half a waste caddy full of shredded paper?! But when I realised that the weight should be 150g (or 30 pages of A4 printer paper), that simplified matters, albeit required more work than I had been doing. So now I do a lot of carving up corrugated cardboard boxes with a stanley knife, and was helpfully given somebody's aunt's old shredder for the paper. Old egg boxes are also good.

    I'm hugely relieved to have finally made it, because the old composting method was frustrating - so many things you couldn't put in it, like couch grass and buttercups. And I found I was spreading weeds from the garden into the allotment, from weed seeds in the compost. So much for using compost mulch to suppress weeds!

    I hope to gradually put the old soggy stuff which was moved to the old composter back into the hotbin, when I'm sure it's doing ok, to sterilise it. The change to the stuff inside the hotbin at hot temperatures is dramatic - it seemed to all go grey, as if it was turning to ash, and some of it had a white mould.

    It is a big relief, that we will finally have usable compost, and hopefully lots of it!

  • #2
    Hi Annabel,

    Really good news to hear your HOTBIN has smashed through the
    Stratosphere and gone into orbit!

    When I am adding my bulking agent (BA) and shredded paper (SP) I just tend to use the instruction quantities as a guide. If the waste I am adding looks particularly wet I add an extra handful of BA and SP, if things look a bit drier or for more woody waste I will add a little less.

    I have definitely found in the past that all these things work well when using my HOTBIN
    1. Squeezing out excess water from tea bags
    2. Layer of twig at the bottom of the HOTBIN
    3. Mixing different types of waste together (not layering)
    4. Stirring new waste in with top layer of the heap

    If you still have your carbon filter I would consider drying it out in the sun and putting it back especially now things are less soggy and working well - there may be no bad smells at the moment, however this might change and with no carbon filter you might inadvertently attract an unwanted visitor.

    Out of interest why do you think your waste got so soggy when you first stared out?


    • Annabel
      Annabel commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, WiseOldBloak. Yes, I've been adding more BA and SP than suggested since it got so wet - but you have to have some initial sense of what are normal quantities first!

      Ok, thanks, I will keep the carbon filter - tho' I don't imagine it will smell more than it has done.

      Well, I was going to ask you - if nothing improved - why it got so soggy! I don't know - except that I probably was adding less SP than required.