One of the garden chores I get a lot of satisfaction from is the annual compost screening. Usually I’ll wade into the compost a few times every month to turn it over, aerate it, help the insects and microbes do their decomposition bit. This year; however, nature had other plans – I’ve posted previously how pie pumpkin seeds from last year germinated and basically took over. This indicated two things: the pile didn’t get hot enough to kill the seeds, and, whatever was happening within that pile of kitchen scraps, leaves and garden clippings had created a really nutritious growing medium!
I harvested the pumpkins a few weeks ago (had to make Thanksgiving pies!) and it was time to see what was there. I’ve had for many years a compost screen that fits nicely over a wheelbarrow – it’s easy to build with two-by-fours (or should that be written as 2×4’s?) and wire screening from a building supply store. I shovel three or four scoops from the pile onto the screen then swipe a trowel through it several times, which sends the decomposed material into the wheelbarrow. What’s left gets dumped onto this year’s pile for further composting.
After a few hour’s work I’m left with an empty slot ready for next year, a growing pile of this year’s raw material being transformed and a nice pile of rough, crumbly compost, ready for top dressing beds or adding to bulb planting holes!