Compost from you compost heap, compost bin and indeed your HOTBIN composter can vary an awful lot.
With many HOTBIN® composters coming up to their first autumn, there will be a lot of hot compost being taken out and used in the garden. We thought it would be good idea to let you know what to expect as ‘looks can be deceptive’!
To do this we will look at several batches of compost alongside some HOTBIN composts. Suggest how they might be graded based on common expert visual assessments. Then we will take you on a journey beyond the first look to give you some insight into compost stability and maturity tests (we’ve done them for you!), discuss what happens when you dry and sieve HOTBIN compost (don’t worry no-one is suggesting you need to do this) and finally do a bit of mud pie play to demonstrate a property called ‘colloidal behaviour’’. Finally we will tie these properties back to humeric substances and suggest that what you really need to look for in fabulous compost is high humeric substance content.
This blog is a little more scientific in nature than some of our others – so if you want the headline without the science it is this:
What a compost looks like can be deceptive. HOTBIN compost is often very sticky and very moist/wet and looks lumpy and perhaps even needing further composting. Tests show rather than it being ‘poorly’ composted, quite the reverse – it appears to have a very high humeric substance content and this is good news for your soil and plants – humeric substance is known as ‘black gold’ for a reason!
If your compost looks like (Fig 4&5), or even (Fig 6) below it is OK to dig in to your soil and does not need ‘more composting’. If you only want ‘fine’ particles of compost e.g. looking like (Fig 1) or (Fig 2) – the solution is fairly simple – dry your compost and then sieve it – you will surprised by how much fine material there is in HOTBIN Compost.
Our analysis tour includes;
1. Visual inspection
2. Carbon / nitrogen maturity test
3. Visual after drying and sieving
4. Pliability / colloidal behaviour
5. Humus test
6. Result to quality – is it fabulous?
1. Visual inspection – Below are 6 samples of compost
- (Fig2) Garden centre compost laid out dry
- (Fig4) HotBin compost at 3 Months
anaerobicNow in our earlier blog (good, bad or fabulous compost) we outlined details on how different experts defined good compost. If we asked this group of experts to visually judge the samples above here is what we would expect:
(Fig1) Vermicompost – looks fine and rich, super
(Fig2) Garden centre compost laid out dry – looks very fine and free flowing, uniform and has probably been sieved
(Fig 3) Typical cold compost – looks mature, maybe 2 years old and as expected,