Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Composting Progress

Back in November 2011, I made my first attempt at creating a small compost pile.  By early January, it was full of gathered grass clippings and mulched winter leaf litter.

Six months later, the pile has settled significantly.  Thus I decided to see if the final product was available and ready for use!

I read that it was best to sift out the good stuff, throw away any sticks or rocks that had managed to get in, and return the larger leaf material back to the pile.  So I created a sieve that would fit on my wheelbarrow.  Using scrap 2x4s & some smaller trim, I created the basic structure.  I then added three additional small trim pieces that would wedge into the wheelbarrow and prevent the screen from sliding about.

I pulled back one side of my compost pile chicken wire and started shoveling out from the bottom.  I quickly learned that a garden fork worked best to loosen up the material, and then used a shovel to transfer it to my screen.  Other than nature and my sprinkler system, I haven't really been watering the pile, nor have I been turning it.  It was easy to see that the composting occurred at a faster pace on the edges where it was receiving water.

After placing several spadefuls onto the screen, I would give the material a vigorous rubbing with gloved hands to help separate out the compost from the larger components.

After doing this a few times, I lifted off the screen to discover a nice, fine compost composed of broken down material and small pieces of leaves.

I had heard that some compost piles become a haven for ants, but so far the most abundant critters I found in mine were pillbugs and earwigs (perhaps because I never add water).

I'll be digging out more and then looking for plants that need a little boost here in the latter part of summer.  I'm already thinking of ways to expand my simple structure and make it look nicer while increasing its functionality.


  1. I commend your success at composting and at making a wonderful screen. My compost bins are a disaster. David marvels at the fact that I keep adding and the bin never gets filled. However it doesn't compost because it is too dry and never gets hot. I guess it will happen in the end. As they say, 'compost hapens'

  2. Old wooden pallets make for great compost bin upcycling. You can even refinish or paint them to suit your aesthetics. If you're not keen on that, you can do what you're doing now, but use higher stakes and a sturdier wire mesh rather than chicken wire. Zip ties are a useful way to secure (use black, though, if possible) w/o getting scraped and stabbed by loose wire ends.

  3. Sorry, that is "taller" stakes, not higher stakes. It's gardening, not corporate litigation...