Screen Compost Now to Make Your Own Seed Compost for Spring

| 7/5/2016 1:58:00 PM

Tags: winter gardening, seed starting, composting, garden tools, Pam Dawling, Virginia,

If you make a plentiful supply of good compost, you can screen it to remove large particles and be self-sufficient in seedling and potting compost. In the summer months, compost piles work fast. If you can set aside some time before cold weather to screen the amount of compost you will need for seedlings in the spring, you can then have unfrozen compost ready to use when you need it in January or February.

Even better, if you put the screened compost into some kind of bin, bed or box in your greenhouse, you can transplant lettuce into it, and the watering to keep the lettuce growing will help the compost organisms to mellow out the compost over the winter.

Worm eggs will hatch out, the lettuce roots will make air channels throughout the bin, and you can harvest the lettuce before you need to sow seedlings.

Making Compost Screens

There are two basic styles of compost screen. We make flat frames that fit over a wheelbarrow, and screen into the barrows. Another approach is to make a free-standing frame and throw compost at it, so that it (to some extent) screens itself. Then you shovel the compost into a wheelbarrow. Each type has its advantages.

To make a flat compost screen, cut two sets of battens and make two frames that will sit on top of a wheelbarrow. Then cut some rat wire (hardware cloth), sandwich it between the two frames and bolt the sandwich together. This method makes it easy to switch to new wire when the old piece wears out.

Alternatively, make one frame and staple the hardware cloth to it, for a less durable frame. For a free-standing frame, study the photo.

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