Compost – sieving it and use it

If you haven’t been following our adventure with composting over the past few years you won’t know that we started off with the big, standard type compost pile at the back of the garden and are now using a swanky hotbin composter.

But fear not, you can catch up on the adventure by searching for compost in the search box above.

We are very lucky that we have the fancy hotbin composter that produces compost very quickly, unlucky however that I sometimes find I have compost ready for use but I don’t actually need it. This happened over the winter when I had to empty the compost bin as it was full and I obviously still needed a way to manage our waste. So I emptied the bin and stored everything in black rubble sacks ready for when I would need it.

This works great, except for one small problem, fresh compost can still be a little rough to use for things like pots and planting, and so you would sieve or filter it to get rid of any larger bits and pieces and leave you with the finer stuff. To do this though, you need the compost to be relatively dry otherwise it’s a bit on the sticky side.

Here was our problem, the compost I had been storing was still quite damp. I had hoped for a few sunny days where I could spread it out on a tarp in the garden and let it dry in the sun, but alas, we’ve had rain and even snow for months. So it never happened. This weekend though we finally got a chance, so hurrah lets get it dried.

This also provided Kate with a chance to put her DIY skills to the test yet again to make my life easier. You see, I have a standard bucket sized garden sieve, which works great, but…. would take forever to sieve a few rubble bags worth of compost. Kate did a fantastic job and built me my very own extra large garden sieve just for my compost. Just some leftover bits of wood and some fine chicken wire.

My custom built filtering sieve

So speaking about fresh compost being a bit lumpy, you can see from the pic here what I mean. You sometimes get bits of twig or whatever left over that haven’t quite finished breaking down. It’s no biggie, you just throw those back in and they finish their job. Having a big filtering system does make this easier though. The action of the compost lumpy bits running across the sieve help break down lumps which are just stuck together and separate this from actual large pieces which are not ready.

Fresh compost straight from the bin

So how does the whole sieve thing work? Well, to be honest, it’s all very scientific and complicated, I’m not sure you’d understand. You need to add your fresh compost to the sieve and ………



And there you have it, lots of lovely compost for the raised beds.


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