Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Oh how I adore rotting piles of plant matter! I adore my husband more though (as it should be!) He indulges me in all things gardening. Well, except for the green house... I'm still working on that one BUT he's not all bad. ;^) I requested that he make a screen for my compost and he obliged. What a swell guy.

I'd composted before but was using just a one bin toss n' go system and never really did like it that well. It was hard to get to the finished compost on the bottom. So my dear hubby made me a three bin system at the end of last winter. Yay!
We collected plant materials and at the beginning of summer I moved them out the storage area (bin 1) and into the working pile area (bin 2). Bin 3 is for storing finished compost - I haven't had the pleasure yet as I use it faster then I can make it! Because we didn't have three cubic feet worth of materials I wasn't able to get the pile nearly as hot as I'd like. I did manage to get it up to about 145° which was pretty successful considering the lack of bulk. However not everything in the pile broke down to my satisfaction. You can see here the rather large clumps of still easily identifiable stuff (newspapers, sticks, a random potato or two, etc.)

As much as I love compost I didn't really want to use that on my garden beds because A.) it's unsightly and B.) It's still going through a decomposition process in which there's the off chance it could steal nitrogen from my plants (probably not really an issue unless I dug it in before planting and it was at the root zone level). Mostly it's just A - I like a pretty bed, what can I say?

So to indulge me, DH made me a compost screen to fit over my wheel barrow. (He used some scrap wood we had laying around and 1/2" wire mesh tacked into the bottom with heavy duty 1/8" staples to hold it in place.) It's super sturdy. He also braced the corners and put guides on the sides so it wouldn't slip as I was sifting my dirt.

Here you can see I've thrown a shovelful of chunky compost on the screen.

The next step is to take my gloved hands and just move the compost back and forth across the screen letting the smaller pieces fall though. The bigger stuff I then just chuck back into the collection bin of the next pile I'll be working on. The good stuff falls into the wheel barrow. The end result is beautiful compost that I've rotted myself!*

I went and tossed this on my fall starts and of course they love it! The broccoli is especially appreciative and is getting huge already. The new little red cabbages look so lovely next to the new dark earth I had to take a picture or two.

*WIth the help of one or two hundred trillion microbes and wee beasties. (Thanks guys!!)

Also, Welcome Kira, Gary and Michelle to my blog! Hope you enjoy my bit of show and tell. I hope to get over and see what you're writing about very soon. =) Cheers~


Sue said...

Jenn, I just got Don to FINALLY make me one of these just last week! And it wouldn't have gotten done if I hadn't mentioned it in front of one of his buddies. Ah, the competitive streak comes out!!
I've been gardening for 30 years. I FINALLY got one of these. Wonderful!!
And I love your compost area. Mine, though HUGE , is not nearly as pretty as yours. You better keep that guy!

Daphne said...

I really wish my husband would build me things, but he isn't in that kind of thing. If I want something I have to build it myself. :<

Shawn Ann said...

How nice of your DH to help you with your gardening projects!
That compost looks really good.

Stefaneener said...

So beautiful. We are going to have to build one. Soon.

Just Jenn said...

Sue, Aren't they great?! Love your technique for getting the job done. lol

Daphne, the flip side is I bet you're really handy to have around and just think of all the extra skills you've acquired!

Shawn Ann, It is really nice that he'll make things for me. =) I think I'll keep him around.

Stefaneener, It didn't take too long and wasn't too hard (from what I could tell) - I bet you could bust one out in a jiff!

Toni said...

Your DH is so nice!!!!

I'm starting to think about composting. I set up my SFG new this year... at our new house... so I'm truly starting from scratch.

I'll need to decide soon on what I'm going to do about composting as the harvest draws to a close.

Your bins look great!!

Michelle said...

I am thoroughly impressed with your's so dark and rich and beautiful! I guess only fellow gardeners can appreciate the beauty in rotted vegetation and um...uh...shall we say OTHER matter?!

That screen your hubby made is fantastic...what a guy!

Judy said...

I love your compost screen! I showed it to my DH and let him know what we would need one next spring. We've been making compost all summer long and a compost screen like what you have would be perfect! Also, I posted a link over from my blog to yours :-)