*note: in the process of replacing images*

Monday, 23 May 2011

On Compost Sifting

Compost sifting. A wheelbarrow, a home-made sieve (chicken wire or similar wire mesh sandwiched between wood, and a good pair of gloves are all that's required. Put the mixed compost on the sieve, and shake it around in the method of your choice until all the large bits are on top, and the proper dirt is in the wheelbarrow. Separates the good stuff from the slow-to-break-down  ingredients like grass stalks - which themselves get reincarnated into quick and nasty mulch for around the summer veg plants or just thrown back into the pile.

It's one of those tasks that should be kind of icky, but at the point that we're doing this, anything that might have resembled food should have broken down already. But just in case: I use the good pair of gloves, the type with a latex waterproof palm to stop any moisture or goo touching my skin. Or bugs - the last thing I want is a nip from a Jerusalem cricket or pincer bug. We're supposed to be composting friends, but they don't really see it that way.

Now that we're almost mid-way through 2011, we have a pretty diverse composting system in use: a death star as the first stop for food scraps from the kitchen, the compost enclave that I use mostly for weeds during the bulk of spring garden-taming, and (currently unphotographed) a new wooden box that Fred built for additional long term composting and mixing.

Safe to say, if something in the neighbourhood is decomposing, it's probably decomposing at my house.

But then, after all the decomposing and sifting and picking out the bugs, you end up with this: a dirt mix resembling finely ground coffee beans that feels silky smooth between the fingers:

So it's worth it. We still have lots of raised beds to complete and fill, so this will give great yield before the end of the year.


  1. this is a great post and super system! i gotta get my hands dirty soon and work that compost! inspired.

  2. Thanks Bianca! I'll try and remember to photograph the soil box next time - super easy to make, it's just cedar fence planks from Lowes + some screws.