Compost auger: a rant

Well, that’s torn it.

Yesterday’s post, disclosing my “secrets” for winter composting, ended by saying that I’d turned my pile the old-fashioned way (with a fork) since my hole-poking technique hadn’t introduced enough oxygen to let the pile re-heat after its temperature started to drop.

James A-S (Blogging from Blackpitts Garden) emerged from his bundle of blankets long enough to advise using an auger. (Hey—I just figured out why the bonfire, James. Thinking warm thoughts?) Colleen of In the Garden agreed.

Two votes from such esteemed colleagues (if I may so far presume) is enough for me; I at once checked the site James had recommended and found myself drooling over a collection of lovely items, some to be attached to drills, some hand-held.

(Caldwell’s auger. Image from Archwood Greenhouses)

<>Thinking this might be an major improvement over my current system, I spent a good half hour or more trying to find such an item on this side of the Atlantic. Did I find some? Oh, sure. And every single one requires an electric drill.

The movie Sneakers (great fun) ends with each of the protagonists requesting something from a Mr. Abbot, a government (CIA?) agent played by James Earl Jones. (I know this seems a long way from my topic, but bear with me.) I won’t give away why they have the leverage to do this, but Mr. Abbot grants a car to one, a trip to another, etc. When the blind “Whistler” (David Strathairn) steps up, all he wants is “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” Once Mr. Abbot understands this strange request, he draws himself up and utters the following pronouncement:

We are the United States Government.  We don’t do that sort of thing.*

Well, guess what. A hand-held auger is available in Britain, and I’ll betcha you could buy one in practically any country in Europe, not to mention Asia. But this is the United States of America, and we don’t do that sort of thing.


Compost report: The re-built pile is up to seventy-plus degrees on the uninsulated side of the bin, and it’s snowing.


*It’s an ongoing argument in our house, whether he says “sort” or “kind.” The lines are sharply drawn (though I can’t remember who’s on which side), and the argument can grow heated. Usually, we end it by watching the movie.

10 Responses to Compost auger: a rant

  1. Pretty soon you’ll be wearing your bikini out to do the auging. That 70 degrees is swimming pool weather. I bet you have steam!

  2. I am going to have to reiterate how impressed I am with your composting.

  3. Hey Kate–I wrote a couple of posts awhile back about how to make your own hand-powered compost auger on the cheap. They’re here, under the “tools” label:

  4. OMG, I just checked the prices on those compost augers on the link you provided. Don’t pay that much! You can get an auger ground anchor for a third that amount online and convert it to a hand held auger. I’ll find a link and post it.

  5. Well, I can’t find the cheapest one I found before, but here’s one on sale for less than twenty bucks:
    I’m sure you can find something like this locally at a hardware store or industrial supply and save the shipping cost as well.
    The helical part is not as complex as the auger you show above, but I can report that mine works great for “fluffing” the compost from the bottom up.

  6. Anna–My son goes out barefoot in the snow (he’s not masochistic, just into toughening himself), so I’ll leave the bikini display to him. He’d look better, too–in the male version, at least.
    Thanks, Emma. We’ll see if I can keep it going.
    Susan, I’m going to make you my personal Tool Captain. That’s a terrific idea. I’ll stop at the only hardware store left downtown today to see what they can offer.

  7. Ooh! Ooh! I want to be tool captain! Do I get a badge?

  8. A badge AND a belt buckle, Susan.

  9. Jackson Thatcher

    We are after all in a Global Economy. Live in the USA? No problemo. Find one in Great Britain, China, Bora Bora or Tora Bora and it still can be yours! Additional shipping costs may apply. Bulb augers work. Did anyone say Cordless drill/screw diver?

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