Permaculture Review the HOTBIN Compost Bin – They Love it So Much….
John Adams and Maddy Harland at the Permaculture Magazine review the HOTBIN compost bin. They loved it so much, they decided to add it to their green shopping supplement.
Over the years I have tried most ways of making compost but I have never found one that really suited my requirements until Maddy showed me her Hotbin. I was really impressed that it worked even in winter, how quickly it made compost (about 90 days) and that it could even cope with cooked food scraps. I just had to have one.
The Hotbin certainly gets hot. Last summer it was positively thrumming (up to 60ºC). There is never any smell from the bin and the process is fast. There were also no flies as their eggs cannot survive the heat in the bin.
We both love this product so much we have added it to our Green Shopping catalogue.
Download and read the full review here.
Buy your HOTBIN compost bin online today.
HOTBIN is diverting food waste
Waldringfield Community Composting scheme is successfully diverting food waste from landfill.
Last weekend we visited our friends at Waldringfield Community Composting to look at the results of the first 3 months of the HOTBIN use.
Everyone was keen to learn how much food waste the 12 households had actually diverted from landfill. The results are in and the weighing scales revealed: 5 Kg/week per household. (It was much higher in the B&B – but they have guests each week which accounted for the 10Kg/week.)
What a marvellous community composting effort.
How does this compare to other customers and the national picture?
Nationally the WRAP figures indicate that 5 Kgs per household per week is the average – I’m sure they will be happy to learn they are normal!
Our own HOTBIN customers survey is less rigorous in terms of weighing exact amounts, but it also indicates HOTBIN users divert around 3-6 Kg of food waste per week from landfill The main difference is between users who choose to really get stuck into what you can hot compost such as cooked food waste and chicken carcass etc. versus those that choose to only compost vegetable peelings.
What does all this mean? Does it make a difference?
If we take all the HOTBIN customers across the UK, the total diversion is still not that huge but as they say from little acorns….
There are 30 million households in the UK, if just 3% actively composted all food waste at home, that would remove 250,000 mt of waste from landfill. That also happens to be about the same amount of waste 10 major anaerobic digestion facilities to be built would process.
Clearly it works in our favour if more people have a HOTBIN but the figures speak for themselves!
What does this mean in terms of garden compost?
Each household is also composting garden waste. A total of 250-500 Kgs of starting material will give 75-150 Kgs of compost which is 5-10 bags of compost a year. That’s saving around £25-50 (maybe £10 more if we include car petrol) over buying from the garden centre.
Are there other benefits?
Yes. There are two huge, almost hidden, benefits of composting:
- More food waste results in more compost. More compost results in more humeric substances. More humeric substances means more fertile soil which means stronger plants and vegetables which in turn means more and better food.
- Humeric substances are ‘recalcitrant forms of carbon’ – they are resistant to further decay so they store carbon in the soil. Adding stable humeric substances to the soil results in carbon sequestration which off-sets the impact of global warming due to CO2.
What could be simpler, compost more!
2. Recycle Present Wrapping
Christmas can be an amazing time of year and the exchange of gifts large or small can be fun. You may end up with lots of paper, card and boxes.
Remember you can treat your HOTBIN too, as it loves cardboard and many other bits, and all the rest can be recycled.
You will find more detailed information in our post on adding different types of wood and paper to the HotBin.
Here are a few simple dos and don’ts
Wrapping Paper – Recycling bin is probably best
Some types of wrapping paper (not the shiny looking sheets) can be put in the HOTBIN to compost. However you will need to shred each sheet and mix it in well. It might just be easier to recycle.
Corrugated Cardboard boxes – Keep and add to your HOTBIN throughout the winter
You might be getting Amazon deliveries (or should that be a visit from Santa’s sleigh). Corrugated cardboard is a fantastic resource to use in your HOTBIN during the winter months as they are easy for bacteria to digest. Chop up or shred and add a big handful with each caddy of food waste.
Xmas Cards – Recycling bin is probably best
You should not add whole cards. If you are short of corrugated card and have a shredder then you can mix the shredded bits in with food waste. Otherwise it might just be easier to recycle.
Cardboard sheets from packaging – Can be shredded and mixed in
Hopefully Santa has been kind but don’t get tempted to add big pieces of card (above 2cm) to the HOTBIN, it has to be chopped up. If you do get lots of things to play with – you might find it easier to put this type of card in the recycling bin.
Ribbon – Some but not all
Ribbon can be made from many different threads. Cotton is compostable, but most others (nylon, polyester) are not. So why not get crafty and find a reuse for them.
Other useful posts are Using the HOTBIN in Winter and Adding corrugated cardboard and shredded office paper
Why choose to HOT compost
HOT composting means you can actually compost ALL food waste which is much harder to achieve in COLD composting bins.
Now we really do understand £185.00 is a lot for a household to pay for a HOTBIN. However when you look at the big picture there is certainly more than £185.00 worth of argument for people to support the ‘concept’ behind HOTBIN composting!
There is a staggering 7.5 million tonnes of food waste going to landfill every year. Based on the “Love Food Hate Waste” analysis, even if you already home compost, it is likely that you only compost about 40% of your food waste (i.e. kitchen peelings, tea bags). Most food waste has to be collected, transported and dumped in landfill. Going forward it will be collected (at the kerbside) in buckets and sent to anaerobic digestion plants. In the UK, we will need to build around 300 of these plants, one in each district! Each one will cost around £10-20 million to build and then we’ll still need to give every house a plastic caddy plus starch bags for the waste and load it on a lorry each week before it is reprocessed.
The HOTBIN can and does handle ALL domestic food waste.
We can compare the cost of handling food waste via a HOTBIN directly with what we all pay our councils to collect and dump and/or reprocess food waste. At present, the HOTBIN will breakeven with the alternatives in 2.5 years. If we can get support and move the production forward from thousands into tens of thousands then the price will eventually fall and this breakeven will be 1.5 years. Our breakeven estimate excludes the environmental cost of carbon emissions from transport fuel.
The HOTBIN was launched a year ago and as you will know most councils have no budget to give anything away in the current climate so unfortunately there are no more subsidies available to help home composting any more.
We have tried to compensate for this by having our ‘TWIN packs’, ideal for bigger gardens or those who want to share and save. For businesses or larger groups of friends there is the ‘QUAD pack’ and more recently we have launched the ‘Composting Dozen’, to help support local community groups who want to make a collective difference.
If you are interested to learn more about hot composting take a look at our extensive FAQ on www.hotbincomposting.com
How to start your HOTBIN in winter
Plus how to keep the HOTBIN hot in winter
From scientific angle, it is not that much harder to start the HOTBIN in winter than it is in summer.
From a practical standpoint it is harder because;
1) there is less garden waste around to create the minimum 40 cm base layer
2) In winter there is less ‘easy to consume’ waste (e.g. grass) and more ‘slow to consume’ waste (e.g. brown leaves)
How do new customers get going in Winter?
There are two options – which route you take depends on what waste you have available and to some extent on your willingness to actively seek out waste to ensure you have the right components. In the end not everyone wants this challenge. We have also noted a more laid back ‘patient’ approach.
Just be aware – we cannot change the laws of physics on heating and rates of cooling. If you do not have the quantity and type of mix to create heat, be patient you are going to have to wait until late spring.
The rule of thumb to getting started and getting the HOTBIN hot is: the more you add the easier it is, the more digestible the waste the faster heat is produced. If the temperature is below 10C (which it is most nights and days after September) you need to also ‘kick start’ the base layer in the HOTBIN with the winter heater (aka a hot water bottle!).
Fast – for those willing and able to search out enough waste
To get going you need a base layer – add lots of waste – at least 40cm (above hatch paneldoor) and more if available. Also ensure the mix has lots of easy to digest waste. As you are unlikely to have cut grass in winter – cheat as follows:
- Shredded office paper (or chopped up corrugated card) is easy for bacteria to digest. You need lots – think a 1-2 carrier bags full to start and several handfuls each week
- Add a handful of chicken pellet (poo) or blood bone meal from the garden centre each week. Buy big cheap buckets – and don’t worry – you are merely delaying the application of the fertiliser – all the nutrients will still be in your compost
- Add a few handsful of autumn leaves on alternative days – but not masses of cold leaves in one go. Leave time for the leaves to heat before adding more cold leaves. Drain rain water off from exceptionally wet leaves
- Add your kitchen peelings and food waste – but do ensure you also add shredded paper (or cardboard) and bulking agent too
Still not enough waste? Get creative…
- Seek out friends with allotments, larger families with waste, even your local grocer – and ask for waste
- Not enough shredded paper? Most offices produce sacks full of shredded office paper every day. Your company pays to dispose of this – ask for a sack full!
Once going you need to keep the heat up. This will require at least 5-10L of waste a week. It is even more essential in winter that your waste is not ‘too wet’. Always amend your mix with 30g (one large handful) of shredded office paper per one Kg of food waste. That is 2 handfuls of shredded paper per caddy. The easy way to do this is add the paper into the base of the caddy after each empty.
ALWAYS add bulking agent with food waste.
Using the ‘Kick Start’ bottle
Some people find this ‘amazing’ and they find they have a hot heap in 6-12 hours, others try it a few times, nothing seems to happen and give up. So here’s a little bit of background on how it works, and the essential thing to get it to work
The science behind the ‘heater’ is:
- Compost heat is a by product of bacterial activity (i.e. growth)
- More bacterial activity = more heat
- Bacteria do not grow much (or produce heat) below 5C and almost not at all at 0C
- When the waste is cold, only a tiny amount of heat is created by the bacteria and this is quickly lost. (Hence outdoor heaps stay cold/frozen in winter). The HOTBIN’s Insulated walls help retain heat, but there is still not enough heat to raise the temperature of the waste.
- Why add boiling water? 1 litre of boiling water contains 4200 J energy. The heat moves from the water into the cold waste and is retained within by the insulated walls for a few hours – the HOTBIN acts like a Thermos Flask!
- The waste heats up around bottle to 30-40C for an hour or so
- During this short period, bacterial activity increase 8-16 fold. More activity = more heat and the waste moves into a self sustaining increase in temperature
- There is enough heat to increase the waste temp – i.e. the HOTBON increases, rapidly towards 60C
The technique only works if there is enough easy to digest food waste.
I liken it to a human diet – if you eat a high fibre breakfast you get steady energy all day, but drink coke and sweets and you’ll be on sugar high for a hour! Since the heat from the bottle only last an hour or so, the bacteria need fast food during this hour.
If your bin is full of woody stuff that they find hard to digest, then no new heat is generated. The bottle works when bacteria have a diet of ‘fast food’ i.e. shredded white paper, food waste, cardboard, soft plant material (grass nettles, comfrey).
All the above might be a little too energetic for some users. Below is an alternative winter method.
Just be aware – we cannot change the laws of physics on heating and rates of cooling. If you do have the quantity and type of mix to create heat, be patient you are going to have to accept ‘warm’ rather than hot composting wait until late spring.
Patient winter method – for those unable to track down enough waste
Add waste ‘as it comes’ and let it build up over time. It won’t ‘take-off’ and get into the hot 40-60C range, more likely to move along at 10-30C. But this is still much better than a frozen open heap that is inactive. As with the fast method, the key in winter is to ensure your waste is not too wet – so add lots of shredded office paper and bulking agent.
Please note the Kick Starter Heater comes with the HOTBIN with all the extras. It is a 2-litre HDPE screw top container that can hold boiling water which you can pop into the top layer of the HOTBIN when it needs a winter boost.
Can I compost Horsetail (Mare’s Tail or Equisetum Arvense)?
Yes you can compost it. BUT!!
Problems will arise if the heap does not get above 40C – the seeds will survive cold composting and you will spread the seeds when the compost is used. A hot compost heap (40-60C) will kill the seeds.
However as this is such an invasive and tough weed, you need to check that the seeds/bits are only added to the top of a already hot pile, that they stay near the top (do not fork in or turn the pile/HOTBIN as seeds will fall down to cooler base). Finally, after hot composting, give your compost a ‘germination test’ – By this we mean leave the compost in an open maturation pile for a few months to check to ensure the Horsetail does not re-sprout. If it does, gently tease out all roots and rhizomes again and zap it through the hot compost again.
This may sound painstaking – but so will your efforts to remove it from soil in the first place. Are there any other options? Passing the waste on to your local authority to handle is not a great option. The seeds and bits can drop and disperse on roads and neighbours plots. If you are unsure, perhaps this is one case where it is better to burn the weeds (subject to local authority rules of course!).
- Horsetail or Mare’s Tail (Equisetum Arvense) is an invasive, deep-rooted perennial weed with fast-growing rhizomes (underground stems) that quickly send up dense stands of foliage that will spread quickly to form a dense carpet of foliage, crowding out less vigorous plants in beds and borders.
- Horsetail is easily recognised by its upright, fir tree-like shoots that appear in summer. In spring, fertile light brown stems, 20-50cm (10-20in) tall, appear with a cone-like spore producing structure at the end of the stems. In summer, sterile green shoots develop into fir tree-like plants, 60cm (2ft) tall.
- The creeping rhizomes of this pernicious plant may go down as deep as 2m (7ft) below the surface, making them hard to remove by digging out, especially if they invade a border. They often enter gardens by spreading underground from neighbouring properties or land.
You can also find more advice at: Garden Organic Website
Compost – What Should it Look Like? Looks can be deceptive!
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
(Fig 3) Typical cold compost
- (Fig4) HotBin compost at 3 Months
(Fig5) HOTBIN compost that is it too wet
(Fig6) HOTBIN compost that has gone
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,
(Fig4) HotBin compost at 3 Months – looks ok, dark brown and a little lumpy
(Fig5) HOTBIN compost that is it too wet – looks water logged, lumpy, immature and soggy
(Fig6) HOTBIN compost that has gone anaerobic – definitely looks anaerobic, it’s black sludge not compost
2. Carbon / nitrogen maturity test
Industrial producers of compost (i.e. compost sold in garden centres) do a check to establish how active the bacteria are. Above a certain level and the compost is too active (i.e. not mature & stable) it needs to be left longer otherwise it can draw nitrogen from the soil as bacteria continue to use the carbon in the remaining compost. The maturity and stability test can be undertaken via the Solvita compost test method. You can do these at home, although it gets expensive!
Garden centre compost (Fig2) would not have gone on sale without passing the C/N maturity and stability tests. How did HOTBIN (Fig4&5) compare? Well they both fall in the stable and mature range. This will surprise a lot of experts as they look lumpy and lumpy normally means large pieces of non-composted material which is highly likely to result in an ‘active’ rather than stable result.
3. Visual after drying and sieving
We recently tested a range of compost sieves (see guide to compost sieves post). We know wet and sticky compost is a complete pain to sieve. When testing the Compostsifter it failed to sieve any of HOTBIN (Fig5). So we dried the compost and tried again. This reminded us of an old saying – ‘looks can be deceptive’. Below is the result of the sieving test.
HOTBIN compost sieved
The result was about 80% of all the compost went through the fine (8mm mesh) sieve. There is about 15% of wood chip pieces (0.8-1.5mm), and 5% oversize non-composted items (notably pampus grass roots – these are possibly going to take the record for the hardest most difficult material to compost – but that’s another blog!). I’d just like to say this sieve result is not a one off – we have seen it many times, same results.
If we visually compare the sieved HOTBIN compost with the sieved garden centre compost they now look very similar. So was the problem just that the HOTBIN sample has been stuck in the base and got wet? Is the difference just about one compost being very wet and another compost being dry? No!
4. Pliability / colloidal behaviour
When we sieve and handle HOTBIN compost we notice something else – it is very sticky. It rolls into balls in the sieves, when you grab a handful you can make a ball. It is ‘pliable’ just like a potter’s clay or children’s plasticine.
HOTBIN Vs Garden Centre on compost pliability
There are two common substances in soils and composts that create a pliable mix – clay and humeric compounds. Both these are ‘colloidal’ materials and it is this property and the resultant way they hold water that leads to the pliability.
We can take the pliability test a little further. If we make a ball of moist compost from Garden centre compost and HOTBIN compost (Fig5) and leave then to dry in the sun for 4 days. Now what happens when we try and squeeze each ball?
HOTBIN Vs Garden Centre – compost pliability after drying
The garden centre compost sample behaves more like peat – it sticks when wet, dries fast (i.e. looses water 2-4 times faster) and then the organic material falls apart when the dry ball is pressed. Whilst the HOTBIN sample is still damp and pliable, it forms a very hard solid outer layer material with soft inner. Even after 100% drying and re-wetting the pliability returns.
At this stage we should mention that HOTBIN composting (and certainly the batch of HotBin compost above ) had no soil added – hence the pliability is not believed to be due to soil clay.
5 Humus test
We think (and we mean ‘think’ because we have no laboratory proof) that it is possible that HOTBIN compost has more humeric substances than many other composts.
HOTBIN compost – Pliable humus
Can we test for humeric substances? The answer is yes but not easily outside a fully operational soil testing lab. There is a relatively simple humus soil test – targeted at measuring the concentration of humeric substances in soils. The HOTBIN samples are off the scale – but a note of caution – the test aims to give a reliable field test for soils with 0.5-6% humeric substances. It cannot be relied on for concentrations well above this.
6 Result to quality – is it fabulous?
We believe there is a real difference between compost and compost that contains very high amounts of humeric substances. Partly decomposed material (compost) will continue to decompose when added to the soil and eventually the carbon cycle completes and it is returned to carbon dioxide and a small amount of recalcitrant humus in the soil. Humeric substances do not decompose in the soil (to any great extent) so adding a concentrated form will improve your soil faster.
HOTBIN compost – drying out
As a company we are not into making claims about our products we can’t substantiate – to be clear – we believe we can explain the appearance and behaviour of HOTBIN compost. We believe we can trace (but not prove it yet!) this back to higher humeric substance content in HOTBIN compost. One day we will have the evidence – until then we believe our logic and science has merit, you can do your own testing, contribute to the debate or ignore our findings as just marketing waffle!
Worms and HOTBIN composting
A question we often get asked is; do I need to keep my Wormery now I have a HOTBIN?
The simple answer is no and the key benefit is that the HOTBIN can compost both food waste and garden waste. Therefore you can save space, reduce costs and still keep your food waste out of landfill.
So what is worm composting?
Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm compost. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body.
So what is HOTBIN composting?
The HotBin is a simple design that helps maximise what nature does by bringing together the right conditions to make hot composting easier. It does this by providing effective aeration between the bottom air inlet plate and the air outlet rotating valve, removing excess water through the valve as steam and allowing you to control the rate of heat loss. You can compost 100% of all domestic food waste in the HOTBIN without inherent problems with odour, vermin and flies. This includes left over meals, plate scrapings, meat, fish, small bones, bread, cakes, pasta and rice. Your food and garden waste will be turned into rich organic matter for the garden every 90 days.
Worms in the HOTBIN?
You do not need to add worms into the HotBin however you can – either directly by adding into the base layer (which is cooler) or inadvertently by adding worm eggs and worms into the bin via small bits of soil and old compost . Most of the worms and worm eggs will be killed by high temperatures (>45C) but a some will find there way down into the base layer and continue to work on the base layer compsot.
However, worms can be beneficial to composting and can be added if you want to. But a word of warning do not add them into the upper active layer (60°C will kill them) only add worms via the hatch panel where the compost will be cooler. Worms will help to decompose waste and leave mucus in the compost which is proving beneficial to soil fertility.
As the HOTBIN is no ordinary composting bin as you can use it to recycle than just vegetable kitchen waste in it. The hot temperatures achieved during hot composting make composting all food waste in the HOTBIN a safe home composting system that recycles a whole lot more than just potato peelings.
So if you were thinking about a Wormery as a form of recycling food waste why not consider a HOTBIN as it composts both your food and garden waste together.
Can I add Autumn LEAVES to compost in my HOTBIN
Leaves can go in the HOTBIN and they make great humus.
If you have a lot of leaves (>10 litres, a bucket load), you need to tweak the recipe to ensure they HOT compost.
If you only add thick layers of leaves into the HOTBIN, it is unlikely they will rise above 20-30C as the woody nature means they are hard for bacteria to digest and hence heat is released slowly.
To HOT compost autumn leaves, see the recipe below:
How to HOT Compost Autumn Leaves
There are two parts to successful composting of autumn leaves.
1) Adding a nitrogen source to balance the high carbon in leaves
2) Ensuring that there is enough ‘easy to digest’ waste (e.g. greens, food waste, shredded office paper’ (which creates heat quickly) to keep things hot whilst the hard to digest woody material (in which heat is released slowly) are also digested. In some cases solving (1) & usually solves (2).
Here’s what you need to do to ensure you get the best out of your HOTBIN
Step 1: Shred leaves
Leaves tend to form a dense matted layer that restricts air and oxygen flow within the HOTBIN. We advise shredding the leaves (e.g. using mower or a hedge trimmer).
Step 2: Mix leaves with easier to digest materials like food waste
Many people simply will not have enough food waste to mix with high volume autumn leaf fall. You can cheat a little by adding another easy to digest waste to go with the leaves such as chicken poo, chicken pellets, or a sprinkling of blood bone meal.
The ideal waste to mix with autumn leaves is grass lawn mowing – unfortunately, it is rare in UK to be able to get the mower out in Autumn as it is too wet and compacts the lawn soil. If you have room storing leaves in a wire frame box ready for spring and first grass cut can work really well . (Avoid sealing in black bags – the leaves will go anaerobic (see below for anaerobic method).
Step 3 – Do not add too many each time – little and often is best
More than 10cm (20 litres) of cold wet leaves in one go will “stall” the HOTBIN. The cold leaves will lower the temperature of the HOTBIN below 20°C and the heat production falls below that needed to re-heat. So store the leaves in a pop up bag, protected from rain and add over a couple of weeks – you’ll be amazed how fast they compost.
If you have a large garden with lots of trees and mounds of leaves then possibly doing a little bit each week in the HOTBIN is impractical. Try the following – shred the leaves (e.g. using lawn mower), store in a wire frame or cold compost heap until spring. Mix with first grass cuttings in large volume piles. Turn occasionally.
Leaf Mould Versus Composting
If you are collecting leaves into a wire frame then you might go down the route of just leaving them in the box and waiting 1-2 years for leaf mould.
Leaf mould versus ‘bagging’ i.e. anaerobic digestion
Many compost sites note that ‘bagging’ leaves in black plastic and tying off will create a black slime that can be used as compost. What this really means is you are anaerobically digesting the leaves down to compost. To an extent this is ok, our point would be AD creates methane and you are releasing a GHG that is 24 times more harmful than CO2. And we hope you would agree that every little bit avoided helps.
Aerobic composing is carbon neutral. Also to be honest – the black bags absolutely stink when you open then!
You can now successfully compost large amounts of Autumn leaves in your HOTBIN.
How do I prevent maggots and flies getting into the HotBin?
The quick answer is “Get your waste hot (>40C) as quickly as possible”
Flies and maggots in the HotBin are a real rarity. They can occur and it tends to be when the HotBin is in the ‘set up’ phase before the temperature has risen above 40C. Below we explain why and how to prevent this happening. House flies and fruit flies can lay eggs in the your composting waste anywhere from the kitchen, kitchen caddy / bags holding waste and possibly at any time when the lid is open or the door is not fastened tightly.
A hot (above 40C) HotBin will kill all fly eggs, maggots and flies.
In our customer surveys 99% state they are satisfied or very satisfied with how the HotBin reduces and prevents flies – but we do get the occasional issue with maggots and flies and it is a guaranteed sign that the waste inside has not risen above 40C.
We do not believe there is a 100% sure way to prevent flies laying eggs in your compost waste, but the following will reduce the chances of them laying eggs:
Ensure the lid is tightly closed at all times (unless filing!)
- Ensure the door hatch is on tight and the cam belts have been used to pull the door on tight
- Cover all waste at all times (eg kitchen caddy, collection bags)
- Clear up any waste dropped around the HotBin – it will be a fly magnet
It is often the case that your waste already has fly eggs in it. Accepting this is possible, the next step is to prevent the eggs hatching into larvae / maggots. You do this by getting your HotBin Hot (>40C) very quickly (within a few days). Heat prevents any fly eggs hatching.
The basic technique is to add lots (at least half full) of ‘easy to digest’ waste (eg grass, food waste, shredded office paper, corrugated paper).
Quick tips to help you do this:
1) Add a box of grass mowing and mix into the waste already in the HotBin
2) If no grass, add 2-3 cups of either chicken pellets or chicken poo
3) Check excess water is not seeping from the aeration mesh in base – if it is, add half a bucket of cardboard pieces and half a bucket of wood chip (from black bag supplied).
You can find more information on getting to 60C in the PDF ‘how do I get to 60C check list’
Please note: you might occasionally have flies hovering around the valve or crawling on the door hatch panel. We can’t stop this. There is always some residual odour around the valve, and often some old compost on the door. They normally give up and move on when they are unable to find the food source that generates the odour i.e. they cannot find the place to eat and lay eggs. If they bother you and you are not adverse to using chemicals, then any of the fly/crawling insect sprays can be spayed on the HOTBIN parts to keep them away – but outdoors this is a bit of a losing battle – it will wash off in the rain quickly. But do try to keep the area free of dropped food & compost.