Hotbin Hack: a pallet stand for catching liquid

Maddy Harland
Wednesday, 1st April 2015

Maddy makes a simple stand for her Hotbin in 10 minutes to catch the liquid that leaks from the bottom of the bin and reuse it as a plant fertiliser.

This idea was given to me by John Adams. As such it comes with a proviso. John is brilliant at DIY, especially modifying pallets. He writes about pallet benches, raised beds, even how he made an Arondack chair in Permaculture magazine. I am practical but no pallet upcycling genius and I knocked his idea together in 10 minutes by eye. I should have used a ruler!

If you own a Hotbin you know it works: they can easily reach 60oC (140oF) with a little tinkering with manure or grass clippings. I put my Hotbin in the greenhouse as a little engine over winter and move it outside in Spring when my peach espalier comes into flower and I need to hand pollinate the flowers. The trouble is, Hotbins can exude a little brown liquid as they compost. Not a big problem but it makes sense to catch it.

The solution is simple. Take a pallet.

Cut the top slats at the quarter mark, add a couple of slats to the base from the discarded part of the pallet and renail one block under the new corner you have created that was formerly the middle of the pallet. Enhance the top of the quarter pallet with an additional slat if you wish.

Cut a strip from a thick plastic sack and nail it to the rim of the pallet at the front to protect the wood from rotting as the liquid drips down.

Place the quarter pallet in situ under the Hotbin. Add a tray to catch the drips below. Tuck it as far under the Hotbin as possible to prevent it filling with rain.

Harvest as it fills and dillute the liquid. Use as a fertilsers for your plants.

Maddy Harland is the editor and co-founder of Permaculture magazine and Permanent Publications.

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wormcomposter |
Sat, 04/04/2015 - 17:47
Two things. One, if you have liquid leaching out, then your bin is too wet. Two, if the liquid coming out from your bin smells, then you shouldn't be using it on your plants. Diluted or not. That leachate has perculated through unfinished material and probably has anearobic microbes in it that will not be healthy for plants. The best thing to do with this liquid is pour it back into your bin to finish composting.
Maddy Harland |
Sat, 04/04/2015 - 19:13
Perhaps I exaggerate - I put a lot of carbon in my Hotbin in the shape of torn up newspaper and sawdust to balance the bin but it still has a minor flow of liquid at the base. Not really smelly but it marks the slabs a little. Hence the pallet hack. Fair to say a Hotbin sweats like any other composter.
Linda Secker |
Thu, 28/05/2015 - 17:08
I always now build my compost (in council dalek style bins) directly on the beds so that none of this fertiliser is wasted. I also find that it saves me so much energy by not moving finished compost around :) I just whip off the dalek, cover the resulting pile for a few more months, then bob's your uncle. I do a whole row of them on each bed - I call it Heavy Duty Composting :)