Category Archives: Tools of the Trade

Shake yo' compost screen

Sifter hard way:nifty stuff

As part of my almost criminally long article on composting (125 pages and counting) I have been looking at compost screens and sifters. Mine is something my husband knocked together in a few minutes—a wooden frame reinforced at the corners fitted with ½” hardware cloth (read: wire mesh). It's big enough to set down on the big new wheelbarrow I got last summer. I just shovel finished compost onto it and shove it around with my hands; what doesn't go through goes back into the bin.

It never occurred to me that some people shook theirs–it sounds like way too much work– until I ran into that guy in the photograph above. But apparently he saw the error of his ways, and found the plans for a two-part sifter where the screen rides on top of a secure frame. Directions for building it are available here, on the Glendale, California website.

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Shake yo’ compost screen

Sifter hard way:nifty stuff

As part of my almost criminally long article on composting (125 pages and counting) I have been looking at compost screens and sifters. Mine is something my husband knocked together in a few minutes—a wooden frame reinforced at the corners fitted with ½” hardware cloth (read: wire mesh). It’s big enough to set down on the big new wheelbarrow I got last summer. I just shovel finished compost onto it and shove it around with my hands; what doesn’t go through goes back into the bin.

It never occurred to me that some people shook theirs–it sounds like way too much work– until I ran into that guy in the photograph above. But apparently he saw the error of his ways, and found the plans for a two-part sifter where the screen rides on top of a secure frame. Directions for building it are available here, on the Glendale, California website.

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Compost tools: Rage against the machine

The compost-auger-that-has-to-be-attached-to-a-drill, subject of yesterday’s rant, is just the latest motorized gadget I’ve seen recommended for composters. Some manuals seem to assume that everyone keeps a garage full of gas-guzzling machines handy. Shredders, gas-powered mowers and roto-tillers top the list, but weed whackers and chippers get occasional mention, and now we can add electric aeraters to the list.

Composting happens most swiftly if materials are chopped into tiny pieces first, of course. So what to do with leaf-piles to “prepare” them for the compost heap? Just drive your mulching lawn-mower over them, many manuals advise, as if of course everyone has a mulching lawn-mower. Most such sites don’t say, “If you have a mulching mower, you can use it to….” No. They say “drive your mulching mower….” Do they have a contract with the mowing manufacturers, I wonder?

Newspaper, I read in my current composting book, can be composted; ‘but be sure to shred it first.’ With your handi-dandi shredder, of course. Even sticks and logs can be used if you toss them in the chipper and mix them with—But I don’t care what I’m supposed to mix them with; I’m ready to compost the book.

I’ve got two MAJOR problems with this sort of idiocy.

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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.

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