Hot off the press: A new composter has been launched called the hotbin. Made of expanded polypropolene it is very well insulted and with the right balance of materials (as ever) can achieve high composting temperature quickly, even in the middle of winter.
Reviews from the trials seem very positive but flag up a couple of interesting points to consider. Hot composting means you will have compost ready more quickly. Inevitably making compost quickly means filling the composter more often to replace what has been removed. In order to do this you need a steady supply of waste materials and not just any materials, the right mix.
Grass mowings are a classic surplus material and this composter can deal with them all, but not on their own. In order to ‘soak up’ the wetter, nitrogen-rich grass a drier, carbon -rich material is required. Cue the ‘bulking agent’ (wood chip) supplied by the company at £12.25 for a 40 litre bag.
The hotbin costs £138 or £236 for a twin bin system – a second bin in which to put waste while you wait for the first lot of compost to be ready to harvest. If you are drowning in waste and urgently need more compost on your land (you certainly can’t have enough) then this may be a price worth paying.
However with compost I have to disagree with Benjamin Franklin, time isn’t money. If you are prepared to wait a while, your (chopped up) woody prunings will act as the wood chips and cost nothing plus where else would they go? I know the grass can swamp other materials in the summer but they can be used to mulch fruit trees or even just laid on the ground if they threaten to send the compost into smelly black slime.
The guy that invented the hotbin, Tony Callaghan, was frustrated with an overflowing compost bin and he has indeed come up with a solution to the problem of more waste than he could cope with. Indeed, in comparison to the NatureMill that I have been so keen to praise, the hotbin is both cheaper to buy and doesn’t require an external source of heat. Both systems need the extra carbon input but hotbin triumphs in not having any mechanical parts that could malfunction.
This is one hungry little bin and unless you’re prepared to feed it it won’t thrive. If you have surplus food for it however it will repay you by in turn feeding the soil’s insatiable appetite for organic matter. And that is worth its weight in gold.