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  • Winter Hotbin

    I'm a very keen gardener and have an abundance of green waste that I add to my hotbin each week. I also mix in chicken pellets as well as my kitchen waste.

    During the summer I have had more than enough waste to feed the hungry hotbin. However as winter approaches I am concerned because my garden waste is going to rapidly decrease. This will mean that 2/3's of what I put in now will no longer be available.

    So my question to all fellow composters... What does the majority of your winter compostable waste consist of?

  • #2
    I find that pretty much whatever I do in the winter the bin cools down and spends most of its time at around 20 degrees. It warms up again in the spring, when the grass cuttings become available. There is usually something to put in - all of the food waste, winter prunings from bushes and shrubs, autumn leaves (which store well and can be used over time), weeds etc. I tried adding some horse manure to bulk up the waste, but found it wasn't great - it was based on wood shavings, and both the shavings and the lumps of horse poo came out of the bottom of the bin virtually unchanged. After trying the hot water bottle with very limited success, I decided to accept that the bin would be cooler in winter, but 20 degrees is still a lot warmer than a cold compost heap.

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    • #3
      The majority of my winter compost comes from the kitchen, peelings, paper, coffee grounds. I found the bottle worked although it will not be mega hot in there but you need to bury it well. I also have a few other compost bins that feed the hot bin when it gets hungry

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      • #4
        I expected my HotBin to compost quicker than it has! We emptied out the really smelly compost after a year and put it into our 'normal' compost bin next to it. Having taken advice from HotBin, we now mix mostly kitchen waste (I don't put cooked food in) with HotBin bulking agent, dried leaves and shredded white paper. The HotBin compost needs to be quite dry I discovered rather than just peelings! There are some brilliant sites on YouTube about how to compost.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Rufusthegolfer View Post
          I also have a few other compost bins that feed the hot bin when it gets hungry
          I think if you have space for it, having a bin that contains stuff that is waiting to go into the hotbin is a good idea. I often find that I have too much at once, for example if I take out a row of peas that have finished, or prune a large shrub. I don't have the space for an extra compost bin so I keep trugs of waste ready in my garage. This also means I am not opening the hotbin too frequently to add small amounts, although anything with pests, disease or food waste does go straight in. I also make sure everything is chopped small before it goes into the hotbin, either chopping with secateurs as I go, or putting soft material in a trug and using lawn edging shears to chop it up. Some people put it on the lawn and use the mower, but I haven't tried that (my lawn is rather small). Finely chopped soft green waste is as good as grass for heating up the bin, but there isn't that much of it available in winter.

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          • #6
            I haven't tried it yet but I know somebody who moves their Hotbin into the green house for Winter. This stops the bin cooling down as quickly with the added advantage that it heats up the green house as well allowing them to grow winter salad leaves and start seedlings etc in the Spring. I'm going to try this this year.

            Mostly in the winter my bin takes kitchen waste, though I do (I'm sad I know) have a collection bin at work where colleagues deposit fruit peelings and tea bags etc, meaning the bin get's added to daily (on top of a single neighbours and our own food waste). As there's no grass clippings during the winter I also add a handful of chicken manure pellets with every layer of bulking agent or paper. This helps keep the temperature something like but I have to admit it rarely gets above 50C during Winter (hence the idea of the greenhouse this year).

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            • Mungusthefogeyman
              Mungusthefogeyman commented
              Editing a comment
              No-one seems to mention ambient temperature, which must be an important factor. Those who worry about 100 deg C in the Hotbin, might live in Arizona, for all I know where it often reaches 40 deg C. I live in East Kent, where it is pretty warm in the summer, but as yet have not achieved more than 40 degC in the Bin.

          • #7
            The comment about ambient temperature is interesting. I live in Yorkshire, so its not exactly tropical here, but I do try as far as possible to open the bin when it is warm, rather than first thing on a chilly morning for example. I'm not sure how much difference the outside temperature makes while the bin is closed, although being in the sun clearly affects the thermometer in the lid.

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            • ssherlock
              ssherlock commented
              Editing a comment
              I should maybe have added that I am in South Cheshire, also not the hottest place in the world

          • #8
            I would have thought ambient temperature would have played a role but after two winters with the bin, it does not seem that critical a factor. The exit temperature on my bins varies between 20 and 60 (rare) but it seems to depend more on how much volume is in the bin (full is best) and what I put in last and when. i have given up monitoring temperature and rely on smell and how hot it feels on my face when I open the lid. My main concoction is food waste (70%), shredded paper (20% - must be cross cut office paper) and brown stuff from the garden shredder (10%). I am very happy with the output - rough but very wet mulch every 12 weeks and no food waste being collected by the council. result!

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            • ssherlock
              ssherlock commented
              Editing a comment
              Are you adding the bark or just paper? I find when I forget the bulking agent and rely just on paper it works well for a bit but ends up compacting and then struggling to get above 45-50C. The finished product with the bulking agent added is a little rough for me but unless you turn regularly it is the best bet for keeping it aerated and hot.

          • #9
            I know these posts are a couple of years old but wonder if others still read them. This has to be the coldest summer that I have experienced for a long time and yet my new Hotbin is hovering between 90 and 100. It has never been below 60 since I set it up 10 days ago, even when the lid has been left open for a couple of hours. I had almost filled it though a lot of the contents were loose. I didn't touch it yesterday as I was away all day and when I saw the temperature on this miserable, cold, wet, July, Monday morning it was heading for 100. When I opened the lid it was like a Sauna. The steam came out to meet me and the contents have diminished to half the bulk they had two days ago. I had added old cat litter but that is the wood pellets that look like the fuel for a Biomass boiler. I gave it a stir and left the lid open. I'll check it again later. I won't add anything today.

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            • #10
              I forgot to mention that I have my bin against a north facing wall which might get a little sun, if there is any, very early in the morning.

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