Here’s a good MIgardener video showing how to sift through your compost heap.
His pile is clearly past its thermophilic phase, as it’s cooled down enough that it’s filled with pill bugs and earthworms…these are the critters that turn your material from compost to finished compost, by further breaking it all down. This phase is essentially as long as you want it to be.
His trick with using the pitchfork to separate out all the twigs and non-composted material seems to work well for him. I made a compost sieve for screening mine, but a pitchfork would make a great preliminary screening as well.
He mentions nutrients leaching out into the soil… a simple method for helping prevent this is to start your compost heap with at least six inches of brown materials such as straw, hay, shredded leaves. This is your “biological sponge” that will help keep everything retained.
I’ve been having a lot of fun finding compost sifter videos on the internet.
This one is insanely well done. The gears are now turning in my head to make a simplified/minimized version of this…good luck to me, this is a super well-thought out design.
For some reason, I couldn’t stop laughing while watching this video. I love it!
Recently I was out trash picking, and I found what appeared to be an old french fry grill basket…? I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew I had to take it home.
Minutes later, I realized it would be perfect for a compost sifter. Although the holes in the basket are about 1″, I knew I could find a smaller screen to put inside.
I didn’t even have to leave the house…my basement wall has a bunch of exposed 1/4″ chicken wire, so I knew this was the ticket. Be careful cutting the stuff though, it’s sharp!
While it isn’t fanciest design in the world, I think it will work for sifting through small quantities of compost.