Our Hotbin 100 was waiting for us upon our return from summer vacation. Since we have been composting for twenty years with two big Juwel composters that we wanted to retire, we were eager to get the new, more compact composter going.
The Hotbin unit was extremely easy to set up and use. We simply needed to unpack it, remove all of the goodies (thermometer, compost rake, quick start canister and instruction sheet) from inside it, cut up some sticks for the base layer and start adding my compost. Since we have about 300 m2 of lawn plus a hedge, we have a never-ending supply of grass clippings for the composter. In addition to the garden waste we add the organic waste from our kitchen, which ends up being quite a bit of material with the coffee grounds, potato peels and the like.
Getting the Hotbin started was extremely simple. After adding one hopper of grass clippings into the Hotbin, we mixed in the prescribed amounts of paper and cardboard and waited patiently for the bin to heat up. It didn’t take long. We were absolutely amazed that by the next morning the thermometer was already measuring 55°C!
All summer long we were able to add one hopper of grass clippings a week and all of our kitchen scraps to the Hotbin without running out of space. The effort required to keep the Hotbin happy has been quite minimal; we stir the compost every day or two and drain off the liquid fertilizer once a week. Now that the Hotbin is cooling down, we will have to take some compost out during the winter so we do not run out of space during the colder months.
In the past with our old composter, we just dumped our green waste into it and let it be. Since the mix never really heated up like does in the Hotbin, we would periodically have to recycle undigested compost through the process. It often took more than a year for material to compost completely. In order to keep the Hotbin at the appropriate temperature we needed to change our approach. Adding paper clippings and cardboard to our household compost material was new for us. At first, we were amazed at how much shredding and cutting of paper we had to do in order to have enough to keep the appropriate proportions with our green waste. We were soon searching for alternatives to shredding and cutting the cardboard and paper. In the meantime, we found a simple approach where we add shredded paper from the office and instead of cardboard, we add wood chips. This approach seems to be sustainable, since the wood chips contain essentially the same amount of carbon as the cardboard.
The first summer using the Hotbin has been great! It has helped us greatly reduce the amount of grass clippings that we take to the communal composting. We are also composting 100% of kitchen scraps in it as well. Best of all, it will provide us with a steady supply of nutrient rich, organic compost with which we will fertilize our vegetable garden and flower beds. We are happy that the Hotbin is saving us money and reducing the number of trips to the store to pick up garden fertilizer.