Shortly after moving into our home here 6 years ago, I cleaned up the space behind our shed in order to create a compost heap. The area was littered with the lumber from old window sashes that I was actually able to reuse and create a sand box. Once the area was cleaned up, I created a three-sided bin of chicken wire. The compost setup was very basic. We dumped garden waste and kitchen waste and allowed it to decompose naturally. At first I covered it with dirt, added some accelerator, and tried to water it down regularly. But then we just left it alone.
With some of the leftover chicken wire (1/2″ wire mesh), I created a tray. The method for separating the decomposed material from the stuff that still needed work involved shoveling some material into the tray and shaking it over a 5 gallon bucket. Once after about 2 years of letting it sit, I got about 20 bucketfuls. But that was back-breaking work leaning over a bucket to go through all that. And even at that I was only able to get through just over half of the pile. Plus it took a good afternoon to do that. So between the time involved and the prospect of back pain, it sat for another 3 years.
Here is what it looked like when I first installed it:
And this is how large it is today.
Over the past winter, I was thinking about creating something to speed up the process along with saving my back. So I sketched up and worked out this:
After considering what lumber pieces we have on hand along with some browsing at the home improvement store, I built this:
It has a hatch for adding the compost.
After a few rotations, all that is left is the stuff that is returned to the pile and the “brown gold” is funneled down to the bucket.
I still haven’t had some free time to put it to good use, but I did a quick test just to verify how well it worked. It worked great and was very quick. After the test, I added some pieces at the corners to further funnel the dirt into the bucket. I still haven’t had a chance to get back to it, but I hope to use it soon.
BTW, those chunks of concrete below the sifter is from a stone walkway in our backyard. We removed the concrete between the stones and replaced it with creeping thyme. It makes for a much softer surface and the time is now covering most of the stones.