Grinding Up Finished Compost

Rochester, IL

What's a good way to turn my finished compost into a uniformly sized particles, making it a more presentable product to sell? I've tried chipper/shredders but they immediately clog up due to moisture in the compost. Those pass-through leaf mulchers with plastic strings work better, but throw bits up out of the top and eventually build up on the inside. I haven't tried a motorized sifter and don't know a good place to get one. Something akin to an oversized sausage grinder may do the job if such exists.

I use coffee grounds, fresh grass clippings and leaf mulch plus garden refuse in my two motorized composters which, along with three palletted compost piles in the back, produce more compost than I can use.

Thumbnail by lukerw
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

How easy is it to replace the panels on that ferris-wheel composter? Replace some with 1/2" hardware cloth and you have an inefficient motorized screener.

Or maybe keep the bigger pieces completely out of the composter, if you have more feed stuff than you need. Hold big pieces out in a separate heap for long enough to soften them, and then chip them several times before moving them into the composter.

If you don't put coarse pieces in, you won't have to screen them out later.

Or use a sales pitch that includes "improved compost, with larger pieces added to provide longer-lasting drainage and aeration".

Corey

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Can you spread it out to let it dry enough to use the chipper? That's what I'm planning on doing...hope it works.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Having tries sifting a fair number of times, and in view of grinding the moist compost sounding very problematic, I agree , trying to modify a motorized barrel into a sifter is the best bet.

My current hand powered sifter is a plastic bread rack found at an out of business convenience store parking lot.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Any true compost cannot be shredded, dried, or sifted. You would be killing babushkas, molds, nod millions of bugs that make it the gardens best friend. I ALWAYS chip/shred/mow over all compost material before going into pile. That greatly speeds up the composting process.

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

Patience is a very profitable quality when making compost. It will size itself when fully finished. Except for commercial interests it does not matter to much if it is not quite finished when applied.

Actually it is a living bio mass we call humus. If it is bagged it still has to have temperatures above fifty degrees, air and moisture. If it stops working you no longer have good quality compost.

The best simplest description I have ever seen is simple. A brown crumbly bio mass that is self broken down to the point none of the parts put into the making can be identified. It smells like sweet rich soil. This simple statement usually blocks most commercial compost from really being compost. What it is instead of compost is a mockery most folks believe on the basis of questionable advertising. Is it still good? Of course but folks it is not really compost. Commercial interests do not have or take the time to have fully converted product that is real compost. Only the backyard gardener and small operations achieve fully converted product. That is because time is of no concern when you understand where the real value comes from.

Carefull now..............this is not to offer negative criticism for sifters and grinders. Hopefully a better understanding of finished compost is my only reason for comment.



This message was edited Oct 8, 2010 10:11 AM

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Amen

Saint Paul, MN(Zone 4a)

I don't understand, why is sifting bad for compost?

Milton, NH(Zone 5a)

Too musch sifting or drying is not good because if the moist compost dries out, so does the humus. I'm new to gardening so it took me a little bit of researching to get the idea down, but the end product of decomposing bio material is itself a living world of its own, and it produces a substance called humus. Humus helps the various soil molecules to bind together in a way that allows air to pass through the soil. Humus also aids the roots in taking in nutrients. Humus is also proven to protect against harmful microbes. Among other things. It's amazing. Makes me want to go back to college and be a soil major. Rodale's Composting, a book, has been very helpful.

Saint Paul, MN(Zone 4a)

Quote from sarahn :
Too musch sifting or drying is not good because if the moist compost dries out, so does the humus. I'm new to gardening so it took me a little bit of researching to get the idea down, but the end product of decomposing bio material is itself a living world of its own, and it produces a substance called humus. Humus helps the various soil molecules to bind together in a way that allows air to pass through the soil. Humus also aids the roots in taking in nutrients. Humus is also proven to protect against harmful microbes. Among other things. It's amazing. Makes me want to go back to college and be a soil major. Rodale's Composting, a book, has been very helpful.

Thanks! I learn something new every time I log on here.

Virginia Beach, VA

Interesting!! one of my neighbors is a landscaper with a degree in Horticultural and has a compost pile at the end corner of her yard . She has a manual sifter.

I on the other hand does not sift because i do not put branches, twigs or anything that does not desintegrate fast.

lukerw,
Had you sold any of your compost? I would love to buy some if you only live around here. Our land fill sells compost but I heard there are tons of weeds.

Good luck!!


Bellie

Indiana, PA(Zone 5a)

Soferdig, "babushkas"? I grew up around old ladies who wore babushkas! :-)

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I don't know if it would help or hurt, but one thing I do with fall leaves is dump them in a big rubber trash can and take my weedeater to them to help mulch them up. I cut a hole in the lid to cut down on flying debris. It works well for me because once I "puree" up a bunch, they sink down and I can dump more in to puree. Once full, it weighs very little, making it easy for me to carry around the yard to distribute to my garden areas or compost pile.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

jlj thats a great thing. I take many bags from my neighbor who shreds his leaves. Living down the street from people with too many trees in their lot is a "good thing"

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Sally - I too have "too many trees" ... Though the utility company is taking two down (one taken today; another on monday) due to power line interference, but I mulch up as much of the leaves as I can to improve my soil and for use around my tropicals. I don't know what brand weed eater others have, but the new one I bought this spring has a chopping attachment I plan to buy in the fall so I don't use as much string.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

My neighbor has "Three California Trees", that has very tiny leaves. In the fall when they fall, I scoop as many as I can find. Nothing needs to be done but add them to the pile. Sharon.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Sounds like California pepper trees ... I had those when I lived in Tucson. They are tiny little leaves ... Was a pain in the rump for me to clear them from the rocks in our front yard there lol. But I bet they'd be great for a compost pile!

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