SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I just harvested last year's compost and it needs to be sifted. I got my newest edition of Gardener's Supply magazine and they have a 14-3/4" diameter hand-held sifter I thinking of ordering. If anyone has tried this product, or has or is using a better one, please comment here. Thanks!

Raleigh, NC

I use a small chicken wire type mesh, tacked to old scrap lumber square frame. made it myself.

Near Lake Erie, NW, PA(Zone 5a)

Same as bonjon, Hardware cloth stapled to scrap 2x4 frame. fits over my wheelbarrow, shovel a scoop of compost use heavy dutty gloves and runs my hands through it. What doesn't go throught the mesh gets tossed back into the new compost pile.

Raleigh, NC

mine is on lighter weight scrap wood - I needed to keep it smaller, not so much weight on my bad shoulders. but I did make is long enough to fit like a collander over the wheelbarrow, too! used my leaf bag to catch the too big stuff I scooped off

Beautiful Brazoria C, TX(Zone 9a)

I have the homebrew hardware cloth on lumber sifter that fits over my wheelbarrow but if I just need a bit I use an old colander. I pick them up at yard sales and thrift shops, first I had a plastic one that did well for a number of years but the Texas sun got the best of it, now I use an old aluminum type that I can hang on the fence. But the one a Gardener's is way more stylin' and made of steel.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, guys.

I'm trying to learn to make simple gardening tools like what ya'll are describing. I know I can get some pieces cut at HD or Lowe's. How do you construct it after that? Would I use staples to put the frame together? And do you sandwich the hardware cloth between TWO frames or just "tack" it to one? What're ya'all "tacking" it with?

Sorry to ask so many questions. Shame is, I have a DH who has every piece of building equipment, saws, and tools available to man, but we're on the outs right now, and I have to do almost everything I want done by myself. But, you tell me how, and I'll get it done!


Missouri City, TX

How big do you want it, gymgirl?

I've got enough scrap to make a couple for you.

I would screw the frame together, the use staples to attach the hardware cloth. I have both 1/4" and 1/2" wh cloth.

Missouri City, TX

Maybe I should assemble a few and take them to the Spring RU - What'cha think?

Raleigh, NC

that sounds sweet of you, bubba. (now there's a TX name for ya) that RU is starting to sound too good to miss, but too far for me.

that's how mine is made, screws and STRONG staples.

Missouri City, TX

If you ever get this far west, let us know.
Those of us in the Houston area are always glad to see and meet other DG'ers.

Raleigh, NC


I just got back from San Antonio! changing planes in Dallas, I rented a car and drove over to meet bjwilson. she's a DGer. She's in Flint. was supposed to meet taters and mibus, too but that fell through.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Bubba, you're a sweetie! I could use one long enough to balance on the top edge of the wheelbarrow. Because of 2 compressed discs I can't bear the total weight of holding it and need 2 balance it on the wheelbarrow. One would be a total blessing. I could pick it up from your shop. I don't know anything about the RU. LMK. Thanks!! Linda

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I also use this idea- and if it has two sideways bars/ sides long enough, you can ride them on the sides of the wheelbarrow and sort of jiggle if front to back. I think I found this was a little less labor. Or use the tool or your hands to 'rumble' it around in the sifter.
I think 1/2 inch HW cloth is a good size

Covington, LA(Zone 8b)

Gymgirl, for something even more lightweight, I made a sifter out of 1/2 " hardware cloth and 1/2" pvc pipe. Made a rectangle of the pvc pipe (easy to cut with a hack saw and you don't even need to use glue to keep the rectangle together--enough pipe for the 4 sides and 4 corner connections is all you need) and wrapped the hardware cloth around the pipe and secured it with wire. Could also use the plastic ties that electricians use to tie cable together. Lighter than using wood and should last forever.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Gymgirl: I think that one from Gardener's Supply might be something of a pain to use at only 14" diameter. Seems it would take an awfully long time to sift a whole batch of compost that way. I generally use a whole batch of compost at a time and even my big sifter makes for a long project compared with just spreading as-is. Because of that, I most often spread without sifting. Just a thought.

I also use one made of lumber and 1/2" hardware cloth. My friend, a builder and handyman, made it from scraps from his workshop in about an hour. It's big enough to cover the entire top of a wheelbarrow. It's rather thick wood and big so it is awfully heavy. It does the job well but, since you mentioned that heavy lifting is a problem for you, Herbe's pvc pipe design might be preferable for you. And if it were big enough to balance across the width of the wheelbarrow without covering the entire length, that would limit the weight too.


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

herbe- great idea!

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

I always used to use a black plastic nursery flat. The square kind, that had quarter inch holes in it. I have not seen any of these in more recent years, but if you run across one, it is a very useful compost sifter: lightweight, right size mesh, and durable as well.

Missouri City, TX

Can you get me the dimensions of your wheelbarrow?

If I understand, you want it to run from the front to the back and wide enough to mostly cover the wheelbarrow, so that all of the filtered material winds up in it -- right?

How about one that would be free-standing?
You could put the wheelbarrow under it then filter the compost. That way you would not have to lift or move the filter - just the compost.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Hey Bubba! I think if be able to handle it laying on the wheelbarrow. Yes, just like you said, balance on top, shake front 2 back and catch in wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow measures 56" from the front edge to the tip of the handles and 28" wide.

Savannah, GA

I saw some plans once that had the sifter hung by ropes from something, so you could just wheel the wheelbarrow underneath.

Missouri City, TX

That ws what I was thinking. If you did not have to even lift one end, but just shake it over the wheelbarrow.
The only lifting would be compost.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

oooooooooooooooooooooooo.. now THAT sounds special. Not have to lift the sifter at all! WOW. We've got LOTS of trees to suspend it from, too!

Beautiful Brazoria C, TX(Zone 9a)

Be Warned Composters! Behold my studly-est sifter find so far...

This one is so sweet, with power tools and all....

Thumbnail by PullTab
Missouri City, TX

Reading the comments on that site, it is obvious, that some modifications are required.

The attachment to the sliding tray must allow for the up and down motion of the blade to prevent breaking the eccentric wheel that allows the saw to work.

I like the idea of power shaking, but some manual effort would be a quite a bit cheaper.

And, instead of using a recip-saw, a smaller electric motor with a wheel and a bar that could vibrate would do the job .

Instead of sliding, a simpler up and down motion would be almost as good, except on the hinged side, and would not need the "wheel shields", in fact if the compost box was secured in the middle, like a teter-totter, no wheels would be needed.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Bubba and Tab,

I do sooooooooooooo love it when ya'll talk "mechanical!" Don't have a clue what you said, but it sure sounds good!

Brighton, MO(Zone 6a)

Following along kylaluaz's idea, a milk crate would work like a charm, too. Nothing to make or build, just fill it up and shake it.

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

What a good idea, jeffinsgf! Never thought of a plastic milk crate!!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Lots of stores sell storage crates- you wouldn't have to steal a milk crate. Might want to line it with hardware cloth, depending on how fine you want to sift. Good size to work with

Excellent idea too, of a larger surface area one with teeter totter action! But I'm afraid it would clog pretty quickly. Have to have some size to it, I would think. My compost doesn't flow real well.

I sort of want to make a great big mesh compost bag. Tie it all up and keep tossing it around the yard. When it lays down, worms can come up into it and rain can trickle through. Small broken down pieces will fall out in the grass.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

What's the benefit of sifting compost? Is it mainly done to catch uncomposted chunks of stuff?

Brighton, MO(Zone 6a)


That's it exactly. To catch the stuff that hasn't fully broken down. Also, I find some stuff that "clumps" together. The clumps can be busted up through the screen, or tossed back to cook down some more. Lots easier to screen before blending than to rake the junk out after the fact.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

Hmm. I guess I'd consider sifting my compost if I wanted pretty brown stuff to use for side-dressing in my front yard beds. But since I'll be getting a truckload of fresh mulch next month, I think I'll just toss my almost-finished unsifted compost on the beds now. The mulch will cover anything unsightly.

Plus, I'm lazy.

Brighton, MO(Zone 6a)

I'm with you. I wouldn't bother in a landscaping bed, but I do when augmenting my vegetable gardens, where tiny seeds need good soil contact, which would be hampered by big chunky stuff.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

If you've never sifted your compost, you've never experienced the joy of plunging your hands down into that dark, flakey goodness that resembles Folger's coffee. So loose you don't need a shovel or trowel to dig a hole! Try it -- you might like it!^_^

Raleigh, NC

for all you out there sifting this stuff - DON'T FORGET A MASK

I breath that stuff up in my nose the first time I sift every time, then, too late, go running for my mask. The finer particles go airborn easily.

Beautiful Brazoria C, TX(Zone 9a)

I have several crates formerly known as 'milk' and didn't steal a one. Several were aquired at yard and garage sales, I even purchased an entire set of old Time-Life books on some topic just to get the crate in which they were displayed...I donated the set of books and kept the crate.

My fav crate I got at a local beach clean-up, picked up bags of trash and kept the crate. I've found loads of interesting jetsam and flotsam (not really floating anymore...) at the beach clean-ups.

Missouri City, TX

Gymgirl, you have so many coffee grounds in your compost, it will aways be good. lol

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Bubba go look on the self-contained box garden forum. I posted a pic.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Found crates are very good things. PullTab you have me chuckling.

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