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Taking your Base layer out of the HOTBIN. This will be your first batch of HOTBIN compost.

Our friends at Waldringfield Community Composting and a bunch of new customers who joined in Autumn have been busy composting away for around 12 weeks. They are now ready to have a look to see if their first batch of HOTBIN compost is ready.

What are you expecting to see and what are you actually going to see?

Well you might be expecting this…

After all that’s what our brochure shot shows compost in the HOTBIN is like!
It is HOTBIN compost but not from the very first base layer.

However it is extremely unlikely you will see this with your first base layer. It is more likely to fit somewhere in the range of the five photos below:

HOTBIN base layer

Fig 1 – A reasonably good base layer batch ready to come out.

HOTBIN base layer

Fig 2 – Blackish, compressed, quite wet and sticky.

HOTBIN base layer

Fig 3 – All brown, but still some visible pieces.

HOTBIN base layer after 12 weeks

Fig 4 – Brown/black, wet and sticky, might be oozing water.

Fig5 - Some green bits, clear pieces

Fig5 – Some green bits, clear pieces

All these are from HOTBINS where the upper layer has been composting away at 40-60 for 10-12 weeks. The waste hasn’t fully composted in any of them, but they are all subtly different. Has the HOTBIN failed?


Remember, we said in the instructions – your first base layer WILL NOT be typical.

It is normal for quite a lot of waste in the FIRST base layer to be only partially composted. The base layer stays cool as cold air is pulled in through the base plate and up to the hottest layer at the top, before rising out via the valve. Even if the top has been running at 60C, the very bottom has only been composting at around 5-10C.

There are two options:

1. Pull out the base layer, remix (add some more paper, bulking agent and food waste). Put it all back in via the top. It will rise to 60C for a couple of days then settle back down to 30C. Carry on adding new waste as normal. Look at the second base layer in 8-10 weeks and it should be ready to use.

We would recommend this for Fig 2 & Fig 5

2. Take out base layer now, use it for digging in to beds/vegetables. There is very little “fast food energy” left, it is unlikely to reheat. If it smells sour – all it not lost, DO NOT throw it away – just spread it out on patio/path leave in sun for a day or so. It will re-aerate, lose its smell, dry and be easy to separate the large lump from small.

We would recommend this for Fig 3 & Fig 4

If you want to know more about how compost looks and feels please refer to our post ‘Looks can be deceptive‘.

Our aim is to be realistic and make sure you are not disappointed with your first effort. Everyone’s base layer is different depending on what is readily available at the time of year you start but here are some early HOTBIN compost 2nd batches to be envious of and look forward to!

HotBin composting batch 2 HOTBIN compost batch 2 by Dave

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