The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Growing => Vegetables => Topic started by: doganjo on May 28, 2020, 06:00:17 pm

Title: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on May 28, 2020, 06:00:17 pm
Becasue I am very impatient and also becasue I love gadgets

I have bought a Mini Hotbin.

It cost £150, and is made out of recycled materials - it's like black expanded foam gone hard

Came with full instructions including a belt to stop it bursting it's belly  :innocent: and its own  hot water bottle in case it gets cold.  :excited:

It came with a bag of 'bulking agent' - which just looks like wood chips, but smells nice.

So as per the instructions, i put a layer of small twigs on the bottom and in my wheel barrow I mixed up garden waste (grass cuttings and grass and weeds pulled up from beside it), kitchen waste (bits of uncooked food, tea bags, coffee grounds etc). torn up carbboard and paper, and the wood chips - in the ratio suggested.

Dumped it all in the bin and went in for lunch.

An hour later and the temperature had risen from 60C to 80 C
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Fleecewife on May 28, 2020, 06:36:23 pm
That was quick!  This will be an interesting experiment.  The teabag bags are often plastic, so unless you know they are fully degradable, be prepared to fish them out of the finished compost.
 :fc:  for some rapid ready to use  :poo:
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: alang on May 28, 2020, 06:56:07 pm
Been looking at these for the last 3 weeks. They seem to get great reviews as long as you set them up correctly at first. Certainly look like they produce nice compost and kill all the weed seeds. Wonder if they could help keep a greenhouse frost free in the winter?
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Womble on May 28, 2020, 07:24:57 pm
My Dad once made a hot box composter from a broken chest freezer. IIRC, it had an air inlet at one end and an exhaust at the other. Because it was an insulated box, it got really hot in there!  :o
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on May 29, 2020, 02:34:14 pm
Thanks, Juliet, I hadn't thought about tea bags.  I'll check the box and if they aren't compostible I'll empty them.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: arobwk on June 05, 2020, 04:28:16 pm
Just thinking aloud here:  even if certain teabags are not compostable, would they not provide a micro eco-sphere for various microbes to populate !??  Maybe a bit like a porous lump of charcoal would ???

While I have noticed that some teabags have not broken down in my "system", I have left them in the compost mix (right or wrong).
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Fleecewife on June 05, 2020, 04:46:19 pm
I suppose it depends on your views of adding plastic to the environment.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: arobwk on June 05, 2020, 05:09:24 pm
And whether it's worth making best use of when already in the environment or whether better to dig them out (tea-bags say) in order to send it/them to land-fill or incineration regardless  ??? :-\ 


I dunno !  Life's micro-decisions are becoming so complicated  :)
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on June 05, 2020, 08:46:47 pm
Hotbox is doing fine, not quite reached temperature yet but admittedly it hasn't been the weather to put stuff in or check it.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on July 12, 2020, 11:31:11 am
It's now 6 weeks and I should have got compost now, but I failed in my care of the thing - it feels a bit like one of these tamagotchies (sp) :innocent:

I keep forgetting to put everything in it every 3 to 4 days so the temperatirue dropped and I got fruit flies.  I emailed Hotbin and had a really nice informative reply saying it wasn't uncommon and that the bin hadn't got hot enough.  Gave me some instant things to do -  add chicken manure was one that had never even occurred to me, so I cleaned out my chicken shed and added a bag ful of mixed sh*t and sawdust.  Now being much more strict about what I add to the hotbin instead of throwing in my kitchen bin.
Hotbin said if I did what they suggest it should reach temperature pretty quickly. So I'll report back
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: arobwk on July 22, 2020, 04:44:23 pm
Perfect home-compost production is, from my experience, a rare thing @doganjo!


All those crumbly, ever-so sweet-smelling results we see advertised have probably required the advertiser to mince every single addition to the composter and then camp-out along side the bin to register temperatures and further churn the mix as required.  :D   


The bigger the pile, the longer it's left, the easier it is !!


I'm liking your Hotbin reports though:  ta much.











Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on July 22, 2020, 05:04:35 pm
I asked them about the wee beasties and followed the instructions.  It's now coming quite quickly up to temperature and the we beasties have gone.  I've put as much as I can into it, including some shredded paper and chicken sh*t mixed with sawdust from their coop
There's a wee bit of seepage from the tap thingie at the bottom so I'm just going to put a container under it as that'll be good feeding when diluted
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on July 27, 2020, 04:02:35 pm
Just took my first harvest of liquid feed. Nice and dark, doesnít smell too bad. Time will tell if itís effective

There's a fair few dead fruit flies in there so that should help  ;D ;D
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Q on July 27, 2020, 08:41:56 pm
i just spent an hour turning a cubic metre of compost.. yours looks easier :innocent:
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Fleecewife on July 28, 2020, 12:32:55 pm
i just spent an hour turning a cubic metre of compost.. yours looks easier :innocent:


I got one of my grandsons to turn 3 cubic metres of compost (all suitably socially distanced of course).  I didn't time him but he was amazingly fast, (the last time I turned one heap it took me a week but then I need plenty of pauses to wheeze!)  Now I'll need to tempt him back with roast lamb dinner to spread the compost  :chook: + :sheep: :poo: =  :garden:
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: arobwk on July 28, 2020, 04:35:56 pm
... There's a fair few dead fruit flies in there so that should help  ;D ;D

I'm pondering over the fruit flies:  why have they not been composted ?  Are you sure doganjo they didn't all dive in in kamikaze fashion and drown themselves as you were draining the leachate ?
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on July 30, 2020, 10:06:09 pm
This one doesn't get turned - occasionally mixed up with the mixer tool to distribute newly added stuff, and supposedly I should get compost a lot quicker
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Anke on August 01, 2020, 03:14:45 pm
Charles Dowding has a good (new) video on his youtube channel explaining his method of composting. But it is not fast, and he turns his heap. But explains it all very well, and I am definitely working towards more "browns" in mine.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on August 01, 2020, 08:46:06 pm
... There's a fair few dead fruit flies in there so that should help  ;D ;D

I'm pondering over the fruit flies:  why have they not been composted ?  Are you sure doganjo they didn't all dive in in kamikaze fashion and drown themselves as you were draining the leachate ?
They probably hadn't quite composted as my hotbin had only just reached optimum temperature at that point.  I guess the fruit flies had died and been washed down with the juices :innocent:

The temperature does vary a bit depending on how much and what kind of stuff I put in it.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: cloddopper on August 29, 2020, 12:10:09 am
Been looking at these for the last 3 weeks. They seem to get great reviews as long as you set them up correctly at first. Certainly look like they produce nice compost and kill all the weed seeds. Wonder if they could help keep a greenhouse frost free in the winter?
You will likely get lots of condensation in the glass house in winter as the composter heats up and lets out the moisture in the materials you are composting .
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on August 29, 2020, 10:54:04 am
It's not hot on the outside, only slightly warm.  I thought it might be but if you think about it if it lost too much heat outside it wouldn't work properly
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on August 29, 2020, 10:57:13 am
what I like is the liquid dispenser - I've been using that diluted and it seems to work, plants are thriving with teh extra feeding.

I haven't tried the actual compost yet as mine is a mini so not a lot in it as yet, and I think I'll hold on to it for using for winter planting
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Q on August 29, 2020, 12:37:44 pm
what I like is the liquid dispenser - I've been using that diluted and it seems to work, plants are thriving with teh extra feeding.

I haven't tried the actual compost yet as mine is a mini so not a lot in it as yet, and I think I'll hold on to it for using for winter planting
I always wonder what the real 'potency' of this type of liquid might be.
Same with other stinging nettle or comfrey potions. Any one know if there is a way of finding out (cheaply)?
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on August 29, 2020, 03:49:10 pm
... There's a fair few dead fruit flies in there so that should help  ;D ;D

I'm pondering over the fruit flies:  why have they not been composted ?  Are you sure doganjo they didn't all dive in in kamikaze fashion and drown themselves as you were draining the leachate ?


 :roflanim: :roflanim:
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on August 29, 2020, 09:10:48 pm
what I like is the liquid dispenser - I've been using that diluted and it seems to work, plants are thriving with teh extra feeding.

I haven't tried the actual compost yet as mine is a mini so not a lot in it as yet, and I think I'll hold on to it for using for winter planting
I always wonder what the real 'potency' of this type of liquid might be.
Same with other stinging nettle or comfrey potions. Any one know if there is a way of finding out (cheaply)?
You could employ a chemical amalyst I suppose.   :innocent: All I can say is that I use tomorite for my tomatoes but nothing else, but the 'juice' from the hotbin seems to help the other plants. Purely anecdotal.  I've never tried any other 'potions' though
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on August 29, 2020, 11:54:13 pm
I'm interested to know how it does turn out. Now I don't have copious quantities of goat manure to use, which always went on the same heap as the kitchen compost, I am considering getting a couple of bins and have wondered about the fast acting one. I don't have my caprine waste disposal for most of the veg waste although the dog does his best with most fruits - he doesn't like grapefruit - and vegetables (loves brassica stalks) but there is still a lot to put in. I put torn up paper bags, kitchen towel and often used tissues in my kitchen caddy and that goes to add to the garden waste and shredded paper. When it's time to move onto a fresh heap I will add a forkful of manure to act as an accelerant.


I do have a wormery but it can't cope with the amount of waste we seem to get.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on August 30, 2020, 01:59:05 pm
You'd probably need the full sized Hotbin then - it's £200

They work differently to compost heaps https://www.hotbincomposting.com/ (https://www.hotbincomposting.com/)

Ordinary compost heaps are anaerobic. hotbins are aerobic  or there's one called an aerobin which may be a bit bigger. https://www.aerobin400.com/aerobin400/CompostingTips.aspx (https://www.aerobin400.com/aerobin400/CompostingTips.aspx)

The hotbins are reputed to accept animal waste but I haven't decided to add dog poo yet.  The chicken poo goes in but not the quail waste as it has a lot of unwanted seeds in it and I'm not convinced they'd be killed by the process.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on August 30, 2020, 11:21:32 pm
Thank you. I'll look into those. Maybe best to leave it until the morning though.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: arobwk on August 31, 2020, 04:26:49 pm
.... They work differently to compost heaps https://www.hotbincomposting.com/ (https://www.hotbincomposting.com/)

Ordinary compost heaps are anaerobic. hotbins are aerobic ...  https://www.aerobin400.com/aerobin400/CompostingTips.aspx (https://www.aerobin400.com/aerobin400/CompostingTips.aspx)

/quote]


That was a "curve ball" @doganjo:  there I was believing a decent compost heap was aerobic.  Who says/proves a compost heap is not aerobic please ?

Also:  because EVERY knowledgeable composter I've come across says "no",  I personally wouldn't add dog or cat mess to any heap/composter.  Any herbivore manure seems to be OK, but I do wonder whether manure from animals under various veterinary treatments might also be best excluded (!?).  I'm not sure why humanure is deemed to be any different (with risk of transfer of human derived pathogens), but I'm sure someone here will know the specific risks from adding various ingredients over and above veg' and carbon rich materials such as cardboard.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Fleecewife on September 01, 2020, 12:15:41 am
When is a compost heap not a compost heap?  When it's a slimey anaerobic unturned pile of grass clippings, with no 'browns'.
A good compost heap has space for air to get throughout the heap, and turning it allows air to get to clumpy bits which haven't quite broken down.
A good compost heap is not anaerobic - sorry doganjo
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Q on September 01, 2020, 08:39:10 am
It will be interesting to see what 'survives' your composting process.
With hot composting it is supposed to kill off everything with the heat but I think there are a number of seeds that survive - tomatoes/sunflowers/squashes etc.
I think it kills most weed including couch grass and bindweed roots but buckweed(fat hen) always seems to get through too.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on September 01, 2020, 11:48:50 pm
I really do like the look of the Hotbin and am seriously considering getting one or even two. I would like to see some independent reviews though, rather than the ones on their website.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on September 02, 2020, 12:24:42 pm
I really do like the look of the Hotbin and am seriously considering getting one or even two. I would like to see some independent reviews though, rather than the ones on their website.
One of the things I like about it is that they are clean, no mess, and not unsightly.

I struggled to get mine up to temperature but I hadn't really followed the initial instructions as carefully as I should have - I'd just had a dalek type before and bunged things in as and when.  You do need to add their bulking agent (just chopped bark as far as i can see) and make sure there is plenty of easily digested material.  I put in too much fresh vegetation to start with.

I've used the liquid from the valve at the bottom but haven't had the courage to open the hatch for the compost yet. (just in case I hadn't the strength to close it up again - weak fingers and bad back)  I'll possibly do that this weekend as my joiner is coming on Monday so he can help me get it back if it's too awkward for me.  it looks easy enough on the instruction leaflet
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: arobwk on September 03, 2020, 06:38:12 pm
Unlike MGoM,  I'm not quite so anxious to get one of these hotbins.  I would, however, @doganjo  appreciate reports on your experience (assisted or otherwise) of emptying the composted part of it's contents.


My concern with a composter made from polystyrene is how it stands up to raking through and then raking out with any sort of tool:  wood, plastic, metal. 
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on September 03, 2020, 09:11:54 pm
The mixing tool hasn't done any harm but it doesnlt need much mixing to be honest.  I checked the compost hatch this morning and although it looked and smelt quite good it was still a bit lumpy so i tipped it back into the top.  I'll leave it a week or so - I'm pretty busy next week anyway - and check it again

It's certainly a clean thing and feels pretty solid.  It's compacted recycled stuff though not just polystyrene.  I would think that might get broken easily right enough.

I'm thinking of getting a dalek too though as I'm getting quite a lot of stuff nowadays to put in a compost bin
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on September 03, 2020, 11:58:20 pm
Let us know when you check it again. I'm becoming more and more interested in buying one. I have a gardener to do things like getting the compost out and mixing the contents so they're not an issue.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: xillent on September 09, 2020, 06:29:08 pm
Is the hotbin just a big insulated wheelie bin really? I was thinking of trying to insulate a wheelie bin with polystyrene packing, or similar. I was going to use compression straps to hold the lid tight.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on September 10, 2020, 06:40:45 pm
It is made of compressed recycled materials.  It has a thermometer in the lid and an air vent.  It comes with an L shaped rake and another thermometer to check the actual contents as opposed to the temperature of the air immediautely under the closed lid.  It also has a ratchet strap to go round the hatch area to ensure a titght fit. It also has a thick plastic hot water bottle to boost the heat if necessary. It also comes with a bag of bulking agent - a sort of chopped wood chip.  It works during cold weather as well as hot
 
It has a hatch for removal of compost when ready and a tap at the bottom to drain off the 'juices' for diluting to make plant feed

From their website -

How does composting work in the HOTBIN?
Simply: Add kitchen and garden waste to your HOTBIN, get rich compost out.
In a nutshell (yes you can compost those as well), the HOTBIN is an aerobic compost bin that gets HOT.

When we say HOT, we are talking about temperatures of between 40-60įc; itís this heat that allows bacteria to break waste down into compost in just 30 Ė 90 days, not to mention killing off weed seeds and pathogens!

To reach these temperatures you need to feed the bacteria in the bin and provide them with oxygen. In the HOTBIN you can feed them with a wider variety of waste than traditional cold composting heaps and divert more waste from landfill in the process. Pretty good!

    
Simply add anything from cooked food to garden waste then add some bulking agent and shredded paper or torn corrugated cardboard to the mix to keep the air flowing inside the bin. Once the bacteria are happily eating away, the heat in the HOTBIN will rise and the compost will follow.

All of this without an untidy compost heap, back breaking turning and stinky odours thanks to the integrated bio-filter minimising them and reducing the attraction of vermin and flies to the bin.

In 30-90 days from when you are hot composting, depending on the type of compost you would like, simply remove the front hatch and harvest your high quality HOTBIN compost.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on September 10, 2020, 06:51:30 pm
Is the hotbin just a big insulated wheelie bin really? I was thinking of trying to insulate a wheelie bin with polystyrene packing, or similar. I was going to use compression straps to hold the lid tight.
I have a spare wheelie and I did consider that; but I reckoned once full it would be quite heavy, and difficult to tip out to use the compost.  Also you wouldn't know when the compost was ready.

So I would be inclined to modify it to make a discharge section at the bottom - otherwise you'd have to tip it all out, and if the compost wasn't ready you'd need to mix it up and put back into the wheelie for a while.  You might need a ratchet strap there to keep it closed

Also you won't know how hot it's getting and whether it was working properly.  With an open compost heap at least you can stick in a thermometer to check the heat, and turn the stuff if you have the strength (which I don't  :'( :'( ) .
Would you get usable compost in 6 weeks?  I sort of did but it was still lumpy so I put a couple of spadefuls back in the top.
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: xillent on September 11, 2020, 10:43:09 am
Yes, i agree that there might be a couple of other mods needed but I'll maybe try it. I was also considering having different size mesh inside to allow smaller contents to eventually fall through (maybe with a bit of a stir).

Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: Q on September 11, 2020, 09:11:03 pm
turning my compost today I found a little nest of mini grass snakes - i saw at least 5 but sadly may have composted some of them  ??? - I cant see you having this pleasure with your hot composter  :roflanim: :roflanim: :

I know my method is different but i am just about to have a proper go at the berkeley method of quick composting in 18 days starting tomorrow.

Not confident of he result but I will put the effort to see if its feasible.

I have started with a new heap of about 2 cubic meters of compost (buillt 4 days ago) - so tomorrow will be the first turn.
I am supposed to then turn it every other day up to day 18. (hmmm)

The theory says turn it before it gets too hot and kills off the microbes that are doing all the work.

I will let you know how I get on and maybe some start and finish pictures if you are interested?
Title: Re: Quick composting
Post by: doganjo on September 11, 2020, 10:18:14 pm
It sounds very similar to the hotbin except there's no tedious turning.  Perhaps the hotbin is based on this research?
https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/