We made a simple sieve and are now producing compost ‘fines’
I tend to be fairly ambitious with my composting, throwing in all sorts of stuff including items that I know will take a long time to break down.
The way I see it, these items (sticks, corn cobs, and other roughage) help the aeration of the pile as they stop it compacting into one homogenous mass. One downside though is that you end up with semi-finished compost, with lots of lumps and various sized elements. This is perfectly ok if you’re going to dig it into beds or nice deep, new holes for planting. It’s not so great if you want to use it in pots though, or to grow particular vegetables (eg. straight carrots). So we made a sieve!
With the help of a power saw or two this was very simple, being just a rough frame with wire mesh in between. Perhaps a better design would be easier to use and create less mess but it certainly worked! The resulting compost fines were indistinguishable with the potting mix that I added them to.
The larger portion of the compost, the semi-finished chunks etc. will go back into the first bay of the compost bin as layers of ‘browns’ so that they can continue to break down. I recognised some corn cobs, which didn’t fit through the sieve yet nonetheless were now easily broken apart by hand. They will get there in the end, especially as I keep adding lovely nutrient rich kitchen wastes from our community 🙂