The composting adventure and our new bin

It feels like forever ago when we first posted a blog about our switch over to the more compact hotbin system. We’d had a standard palet bay for ages and didn’t really think composting was anything people were interested in, but when we started trying out one of the new hot composter bins it turned out that actually there was quite a bit of interest.

When we first got it, we weren’t really that caught up in the marketing about how quickly it produced compost, or how hot it ran. For us, it was the compact size, the neatness, that really got our attention. That and the fact that I didn’t have to turn the compost, which I’d been finding a real chore. However, there were other features that, over the coming years, we realised were the best bits. Well in our eyes anyway. Now just for the sake of being clear about this. We have had a love-hate relationship with the hotbin. We didn’t find it as easy to set up and keep running as the marketing material suggested. Although I did confess often that a lot of the issues were because we hadn’t followed the instructions. I also wasn’t impressed with the type of compost we got from the bin. I found it really wet and sticky.

Feel free to take a wander back in time and read through some of my early posts:

Garden gadgets: hotbin composter

The hotbin composter – so how are we getting on?

The Hotbin Composter, a midway review

The HotBin composter – so what do we think 6 months on?

The hotbin composter – the big reveal. Did it work?

We realised early that we were just struggling to feed it as much as it needed. We didn’t have enough garden or kitchen waste to keep it happy and we certainly didn’t have enough brown material. Luckily though, since then we’ve been really lucky to have a fabulous neighbour who gives us their kitchen waste and old newspapers to help feed our bin and it is chugging along nicely now.

At last, success with my hotbin composter

One of the most valuable learning experiences with the bin for me has been learning how to manage the compost. It does produce something very different from the shop-bought compost people are used to. So it took a little while for me to work out the best way to manage my compost so that I could turn it into that same dry, fine compost I was used to working with. Essentially, learning all about drying the raw compost a little and sieving it to the level I wanted was a game-changer. From then on, my relationship with the bin was definitely more on the scale of love.

Compost, how to use it & when to sieve it

So we started off back in 2016, but since then the design of the bin changed, not drastically, but the company listened to their customers and made some tweaks to make things a little bit more user friendly and luckily, we’ve now got our hands on one of the new style bins to try out. The folks at Hotbin Composting have been amazing in encouraging us to continue to give real, honest reviews and advice of using the bins and so have given us one of the newer versions to try out and compare to our existing bin. I’m probably a wee bit more excited about this than I should be 😀

The main change for me that I’m chuffed about is that you can now collect the leachate from the bin. This is the watery residue that comes from the compost. It’s actually really nutritious and makes for great plant food. They have created a little tube with a cap that feeds into the base of the bin and you can now use it to syphon off the leachate and store it. This is brilliant because before it just ran out of the air vent at the bottom of the bin and clogged up the vent and stained the patio.

So check out this week’s video and you’ll be able to see this and some of the other tweaks and I promise, we’ll keep you up to date on our thoughts and… now that we’re a two compost bin household… how long will we be able to keep going before we have to buy compost? Will two bins manage to provide enough compost for all our garden needs?



  1. Hi, Eli.

    I’ve been using mine since my daughter gifted me one for Xmas in March… One of the several wonders of lockdown. I’m gardening in Argyll, which is to say on a hillside with a skliff of soil over bedrock. My purpose for the bin is to build up the soil in my no dig kitchen plot, so this is really good. I’ve a cube bin which eventually gives me some nice compost but the hot bin gives me a compost “crop” every 6 – 8 weeks. Brilliant. Like youse, I’ve a generous neighbour who gifts me his grass cuttings or else the bin would be useless to me. In goes amazon brown paper packing, a few corrugated boxes and I do end up with a wet compost, which is quite fluffy for want of a better term. The stuff I dry I put in woven sacks and put under my cloches (which are in storage) to keep the rain off. Other compost I put on top of where it needs to go to build soil along with seaweed at the backend. The partially dried stuff gets a rub between my hands and flakes up sufficiently for my needs to plant seeds. It’s not pretty, but it works. I haven’t seen any carried over weeds or other seedlings in the compost.

    The drain for the grass juice is better than nothing but not well thought out. It’s quite a tall bin, so there’s a limit on how much you’d want to brick it up or access to the top opening would be problematic for weeer folk. But the drain is low on the bin (obs) so not convenient to get a bottle top under. Even just putting a tap in the cap would save the spill of juice that happens between getting the cap off and the bottle top under it. Better still a kinda bedpan bottle could have been supplied with the not inexpensive bin.

    All the Best, w

  2. Sounds like you are really similar to us 😀
    I’ve joked about the height of the bin for us wee folk for years – I actually have a step made of two sleepers (you’ll see it in most of the videos) that I use to make it a more comfortable height. It’s not glamourous but makes it easier 😀

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