Super-composting bins

My last composting post discussed the pros and cons of non-traditional compost bins that give you the ability to compost cooked food waste. Some of these methods are particularly great if you are tight on space but the problem I find is that they don’t tick all the boxes and that limited space might eventually become overcrowded because, maybe I’ll try a wormery out next, and I really do need a green cone,  and I’m sure I can dig up a few paving stones and create my own trench (just don’t tell the folks at the property management company), not to mention the pre-existing bog-standard composting bin that’s hidden in the corner of my garden nor the two bokashi bins in my kitchen… It’s not like composting is a bad thing to get addicted to,  but you do need to be practical. Time, money, space and available materials/waste are all things to consider.

The two big names in all-encompassing super-composting bins are the HotBin and Green Johanna. Feedback from fellow Master Composters tends to favour Green Johanna but given these were heavily subsidised by the council a few years back I’m not sure this is a fair argument as the price differential would have been substantial.

Both bins are forms of hot composting which means that you will get compost far quicker than with traditional bins – in as little as 12 weeks as opposed to 6-12 months with cold composting (the HotBin suggests it can produce compost in just 30-90 days but small print adds that it will mulch within 30 days and provide rich compost by 90 days). Hot composting also means that you can add things like perennial weeds that do not always rot down fully in traditional bins and would then regrow.


The price for this bin (through the actual company) is £165-£185 depending on whether you want the added extras. You can fill it with garden waste, kitchen peelings and all other food waste, including bones.

It is a 200l unit made from 100% recycable materials, and looks very much like a black dustbin  – in other words, not very attractive but at least it will match. To keep the bin hot it needs about 5kg of waste each week (average household food waste in 2009 according to WRAP was about 6kg) and it is also necessary to add a bulking agent to wet ingredients to ensure aeration. There is a temperature gauge supplied to make sure you’re reaching the necessary internal temperature. It is user-friendly on any surface and throughout the year.

Great if you produce a lot of waste and want readily available compost, perhaps a tad too technical for someone like me who (both with composting and gardening) likes to chuck things in, cross my fingers, and let nature do its job.

16408910286_8ac3f62640_z (1)Green Johanna 

Including a winter jacket for when temperatureshe fall below 5C this bin costs £149.95 through Green Green Systems, which also sell Green Cones.

The Green Johanna is as versatile as the HotBin although not so good if you have a lot of garden waste as it recommends two layers of food waste to one layer of garden waste. It does not come as a complete unit so some setting up is required and it does require the occasional stirring but nothing too strenuous. It produces compost in about 6 months, perhaps quicker as I have heard someone describe it as never getting full.

The manufacturers recommend a shady spot on flat grass or soil although I have seen them used on patio as well with no issues. What I like about this bin is that it is much like the traditional dalek type bin except it accepts all food waste with the same degree of simplicity and no extra bins or gadgets.

This concludes my series of posts about different types of compost bins.

Which type of bin do you use? Which bins interest you most? Why?


Root veg pasta with sage butter

I have got a bit gardening obsessed lately and I am fast running out of room for all my pots. I keep telling myself I need to buy more flowers to add some more colour but I’m a bit addicted to herbs (I saw some beautiful red thyme on Saturday but I was good and didn’t buy it, mainly because I didn’t have anywhere to put it). The problem is I’m not a very adventurous cook when it comes to herbs and unless a recipe calls for them they easily get overlooked. So I have embarked on a mission to use more herbs!

Today’s recipe was a simple pasta using some of my sage (which has grown a bit too bushy and suffering from yellow leaves and so is the most desperate for regular use). This was enough for one adult and one child.


Handful each of carrot, parsnip and sweet potato, approx. 1cm cubes

Sprig of sage, leaves only

4oz pasta

3tbsp butter




Roast vegetables at 200C for about 30-40 minutes

Cook pasta according to packet instructions

Meanwhile, melt butter and fry sage leaves until fragrant

Mix everything together and enjoy – preferably outside in the sunshine!


Herbs in my garden:

Sage * Rosemary * Chives * Mint * Lemon balm * Golden marjoram * Oregano * Lavender (not suitable for eating)

20160716_101421.jpgI have also this weekend prepared some sage oil, and some rosemary and chilli oil, as well as dried some herbs for use in soaps. I have made a batch of soaps with lemon balm in tonight, however, there seems to have been some strange reaction but I am not sure whether that is due to the lemon balm or the jojoba wax (which I have also not used in my soaps before). I am suspecting the lemon balm as the reaction is greater in the soaps with more of it!


Moroccan-inspired aubergine

I switched my Wonky Veg box delivery to fortnightly as I was struggling to get through it all without resorting to soups for the leftovers (and it’s not exactly soup weather). I am currently getting a small box as well, which goes to show they are either very generous with the portions or I just don’t eat enough veg. Either way, my first fortnightly delivery did the trick and when my box arrived this morning I only had two small aubergines and one onion remaining. I had also been saving the aubergines for tonight as my husband is out and he does not like aubergines. So bring on tonight’s meal of simplicity:


Two small aubergines (so-called wonky veg that could have gone to waste before it had even left the farm)

1-2 tsp harissa

1 egg (half dozen box bought for 10p as past its ‘best before’ date)

2 (large) cherry tomatoes, halved (also wonky veg)

A sprinkling of dukka and oil (I used avocado oil)


Halve the aubergines lengthways then cut the flesh of each in diagonals. Spread harissa over the flesh and drizzle over a bit of oil. Bake at 200C for about 40 minutes (until nice and soft. 10 minutes before the end add the tomatoes.

Serve alongside a fried egg sprinkled with dukka.

Food stuff used up:

Harissa * Avocado oil * Aubergines * Egg

Food left on plate:

Aubergine stalks!