In the middle of a cold, dark, wintry January, thoughts of Spring and spending time in the garden may seem as distant as our memories of last ‘Summer’. But in 3 months time with the clocks moving forward and hopefully some sun on our backs many of us will be busy preparing our gardens or allotments ready to grow our own vegetables, fruit or flowers.
As we all know a key element to success in such horticultural matters is a bountiful supply of good quality compost. In previous years I’ve been happy to purchase bags of compost direct from my Local Authority who have a scheme where they compost their green waste collections throughout the year and recycle this for us gardeners to buy at competitive prices. This arrangement has worked fine, but my desire to keep even more of our waste, such as cooked food waste, vegetable peelings and food scraps, from going to landfill has led me to consider making my own compost.
For my first experience of home composting I am pleased to be reviewing the HOTBIN®, a specially designed compost bin that provides the perfect conditions to promote composting at temperatures between 40 – 60 degrees c.
It’s makers claim
‘The HOTBIN® has been designed to make hot composting easy by maximizing what nature does naturally. Composting is dominated by bacteria – ‘happy’ bacteria deliver faster more successful composting’
Here’s how I got on:
The HOTBIN®, which is about the same size as a domestic wheelie bin, is a surprisingly attractive charcoal-coloured bin made from a robust material selected for its strength and insulating properties, expanded polypropylene bead (also used as the core for some car bumpers).
It comes complete with everything you need to run your bin, including, cam straps, a long stemmed thermometer, bulking agent and a waste raking stick, plus instructions which provide very clear, step by step information on how the composter works and how to set it up to get the best results.
Initial set up is as simple as securing the lower hatch using the cam straps supplied and adjusting the aeration valve in the lid before adding a good base layer of compostible material (400mm is suggested), I collect ours using a kitchen compost caddy.
With the base layer established, and given the freezing temperatures we are experiencing, I used the HOTBIN® winter kick-start heater to help get my bin up to temperature. This is simply a plastic bottle with screw top, which you fill with boiling water and place amongst the waste.
48 hours later, using the long stemmed thermometer provided, I was pleased to see that the temperature in the bin was 42 degrees, maybe the inclusion of plenty of chicken poop from my 4 hens had something to do with it, it’s rocket fuel for composters apparently!
There are some basic rules to successful composting, but the real beauty of hot composting is that there is so much more waste you can put in it. For example, you CAN add cooked food waste including plate scrapings, meat and fish waste, cooked pasta, rice and mouldy bread, in fact these are the easiest to digest and generate heat more quickly. So long as the 4 key elements food, water, oxygen and warmth are maintained at their optimum levels the HOTBIN® will happily produce good quality compost in regular cycles.
Another exciting feature of the HOTBIN® is that it is much faster at producing compost than traditional ‘cold’ compost heaps, in fact it can be up to 32 times faster! This means my composted Christmas leftovers will almost certainly be ready to use for planting in Spring, that’s just 3 months later!
Although the HOTBIN® is easier to use than more traditional composters, there are a few key things to remember, including don’t keep the HOTBIN® lid open for longer than you need to (you’ve got to keep that heat in), keep it ‘well fed’ with plenty of food waste, the smaller the waste the quicker it composts down and also, don’t let it get too wet, I’m adding shredded paper work to my bin – I now defy anyone to go routing around in the bin to get my old receipts! (That’s not an invitation by the way).
As I already mentioned, the HOTBIN® doesn’t look like a regular composter, it looks more like an ‘attractive’ black wheelie bin, therefore rather than being a bit of an eyesore in your garden, it blends discreetly into the background.
The design and construction of the HOTBIN® is also of great quality and has been carefully considered. With features such as the conveniently located in-built lid thermostat (which I can’t resist peeking at every time I’m on my way to feed the chickens), the hinged, well-fitted airtight lid and general robust construction of the bin (which prevents the escape of any unwelcome smell as well as discouraging the attention of vermin), the HOTBIN® would be a welcome addition to any gardeners or would-be gardeners garden.
Also, it is designed to last for a lifetime, however should you ever need to dispose of your HOTBIN®, you’ll be very pleased to know that it is100% recyclable.
Aside from the bin itself, the support offered by HOTBIN® is also second to none. In addition to the comprehensive, yet easy to understand instructions provided, they also offer an online composting help centre and a dedicated customer service team to give you advice, not a bad service for a lowly composter!
Would I recommend the HOTBIN®?
Yes, I would. The HOTBIN® is a really great product which makes it very easy for anyone to produce their own top quality compost in a fraction of the time, whilst significantly reducing the amount of garden and food waste which is sent to landfill. In fact, with the HOTBIN® you need never send any food waste to landfill again!
There are also fewer composting ‘rules’ to follow with the HOTBIN® (which can deter some people) for example, what foods can or can’t be added, plus the HOTBIN® is airtight, which means no unpleasant smells in your garden or the chance of vermin being attracted to it – that’s a huge plus in my book!
The HOTBIN® is also a top quality product which unobtrusively blends into the background of any garden, it has many clever features and great quality accessories.
Finally, because of it’s fantastic insulating properties, the HOTBIN® works throughout the winter, albeit with a little boost from the kick-starter kit.
Where can I get a HOTBIN® from?
There are lots of places where you can buy the HOTBIN® including a variety of online gardening stores including Harrod Horticultural, as well as the HOTBIN site itself, www.hotbincomposting.com
Finally, I’m very excited to let you know that I am offering all of my Queen of Easy Green™ readers an exclusive discount of £15 off their HOTBIN®.
All you have to do to claim your discount is to add the code GREENqueen when you purchase your bin on www.hotbincomposting.com. But hurry, the offer is only available from 1st – 28th February 2013 (THIS OFFER IS NOW CLOSED)