Composting is an easy way to create better soil that reduces the need for fertilizers and keeps plant material out of the landfill. Getting started is easy just throw most fruit and vegetable scraps into a pile, turn occasionally and remain patient. In time the things you were going to throw away turns into a nutrient-filled soil additive. Sounds good right? Except what do you do when it comes time to use it?

One of the first lessons learned in composting is not everything breaks down at the same speed. This means to get the best use out of your compost you have to screen or sift it to remove the items that need a little more time from the items that are ready to grow. To do this I built a simple screen from two by fours and hardware cloth to fit over the top of my wheelbarrow. I used a PVC pipe around the bottom to cover the rough edges of the hardware cloth. The total cost is about $15-20 and a guaranteed fit on your wheelbarrow. (Parts can be found at any local hardware store.)

Just add a couple of shovels full of compost.

Remove the pieces that won’t easily pass through the screen. They probably need more time -or- didn’t belong in the compost bin.

High-quality soil additive is left after the screening.

One of the top questions about compost is does it smell? ┬áThe answer is not at all – the worms are a sign of a healthy compost and they are fine to transfer to your yard or garden.

Hopefully, this soil addition will make the tomatoes grow and we’ll be able to enjoy them in a couple of months. Maybe they’ll just give us something new to add to the compost bin. We’ll see soon.