Compost Riddling/Sieving Questions

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by dheat, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. dheat

    dheat Well-Known Member

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    Here's how I'm doing it:
    • Built a 20" (interior dimension) square frame from 1"x4" wood and attached 1/4" hardware cloth to bottom
    • Place riddle over an empty garbage can
    • Dump a pitch fork full of compost in and rake it around with my hand
    • Small stuff falls into garbage can and the "overs" get thrown in a different pile

    Is there an easier way to do this?

    Thanks,

    Doug
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Yes, fork it onto the garden and till it in.

    1/4" screen is too small for sifting compost. You need at least 1/2" or it would take forever just to do a few gallons. I've tried both and no longer bother. If used in a garden, the compost need only be small enough to not interfere with tilling. Example is what I've been doing today. I have the boughs off 14 "used" Christmas trees. After a bit of rest, I'll run them twice through a bagging mower. The results will be sufficiently small to be used as is for mulch or after one heat cycle in a pile or tumbler.

    Martin
     

  3. dheat

    dheat Well-Known Member

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    Martin,

    thanks for you input.

    I riddled for 1-1/2 hours to only produce about 5 gallons of compost. So I'm a believer: 1/4" is definitely too small. I'll try a 1/2" screen.

    Even though I don't have much to show for my work, that 5 gallons of compost sure is pretty.

    I too shredded a Christmas tree. I didn't expect it to do much as I simply added it to a pile of dry leaves--I thought there was too much brown going on. But it became surprisingly hot and smelled really good too.

    Thanks again,

    Doug
     
  4. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    if you want to get the fine stuff to sell or for a special place, maybe you could build a tumbler.
     
  5. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Even with a tumbler. the output is only according to the input. By that, if the woody bits that go in are 1/4", they are going to come out 1/4". The heat cycle mainly only infuses nitrogen into the wood so that it can later be quickly broken down by soil bacteria. But if everything is shredded real small, it may indeed come out looking almost like finished compost after 3 or 4 weeks.

    As for pine needles causing a pile to heat up quickly, that is indeed correct providing they are shredded or crushed. As is, they have a waxy coating to repel water and that takes awhile to dissolve. If shredded or crushed, they have a high percentage of nitrogen which is released quickly. My tumbler has been cool all winter. 15 gallons of finely shredded pine needles and boughs yesterday have it steaming and smelling lovely today.

    Martin