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Simple wood chip compost, sifted to top off raised garden beds.

 
Posts: 613
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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Simple, but laborious, and not fast.  

Salvaged floor joist from a hotel I was working at that was being remodeled.  1/2" hardware cloth stapled to the top, and then some 2x4's screwed in to form the sides so the material being sifted wouldn't fall off the sides.

An old scrub brush on a long handle to push the material back and forth with to sift.

About 20 minutes to get a half a garbage can.  

This all comes out of an in ground swimming pool half filled with wood chips, with year + old rain water completely covered by the wood chips.  I used to pump the water out, but the composting probably goes ten times faster with the water in bottom.  It supports a huge population of worms because it never dries out.  I can't sift the really wet stuff.  It gets kind of annoying finding the "sweet" spots to grab from, but I think it's worth it due to the sped up process.  
The pool also houses nine old hens, and I throw all my food scraps, and a lot of garden waste (and greens for the chickens) (Back to Eden like).
The chickens love the anaerobic water under it all.  It smells very sweet.  I try to prevent them from digging down to it to drink from by piling the chips high, but every once in a while they dig out a section and I see them drink from it when it's available.  I don't like that they do it, I worry about it, but my hens are all healthy and old.  I haven't lost a chicken in more than three years, and my youngest is four years old now.  Oldest is going on over ten years.

It's not the most efficient method, but it's good exercise.  I have no want for an electric method like a cement mixer sifter, or a vibrating sifter.  I've tried slanting the screen using gravity to sift, but it's much less efficient unless the material is completely dry.

This is my third year doing this.  I have a wood chipper/shredder that I'll use to mulch the beds with after I'm done filling them.  The results have been fantastic, and every years has gotten better.

IMG_20211204_121316490_HDR.jpg
Pool filled with free wood chips. About a year old or so.
Pool filled with free wood chips. About a year old or so.
IMG_20211204_121328090_HDR.jpg
Sifter with a shovel full of the wood chip compost.
Sifter with a shovel full of the wood chip compost.
IMG_20211204_121339873.jpg
Tons and tons of material like this just under the surface of the dry chips.
Tons and tons of material like this just under the surface of the dry chips.
IMG_20211204_121447606.jpg
A few shovels full, then pushing it back and forth with a scrub brush.
A few shovels full, then pushing it back and forth with a scrub brush.
IMG_20211204_121553690.jpg
The worst part is disrupting the workers. I sometimes pick out the worms.
The worst part is disrupting the workers. I sometimes pick out the worms.
IMG_20211204_123359054.jpg
After several sifting sessions, and about twenty minutes, here's what is left.
After several sifting sessions, and about twenty minutes, here's what is left.
IMG_20211204_123414329.jpg
In hand close up of sifted material.
In hand close up of sifted material.
IMG_20211204_124107183.jpg
Twenty minutes to fill half a garbage can.
Twenty minutes to fill half a garbage can.
IMG_20211204_124156589.jpg
Front bed already filled, middle bed pyramid pile is what twenty minutes gets.
Front bed already filled, middle bed pyramid pile is what twenty minutes gets.
 
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Joshua,

This is far more elaborate than my approach but your results look excellent!  Great pictures and thanks for sharing.

Eric
 
Joshua Bertram
Posts: 613
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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Hi Eric,

Yes, your system of composting wood chips by inoculating with the oyster mushrooms is an easier way to go about it, lol.  I follow that thread you have.  You actually commented to me before about trying it.  I did by blending some fresh oyster mushroom from the grocery store and pouring it all over that same pile of chips in the pool.  I do have white bands of fungus/mycelium in the sweet spots with the proper moisture levels, but the top few inches of my pile are bone dry (I live in the desert with very little rainfall) so I've never seen a mushroom come up.  I don't know what kind of fungus is growing under it all.  

I have a similar thread talking about my raised beds, but I used to take the same sifter and put it over the raised beds, then haul garbage cans of the wood chip compost from the pool over to the beds, sift it over each bed individually, and then carry the wood chips left over back to the pool.  Now I'm slightly more efficient and only have to carry the sifted compost from the pool back to the beds.  That's why I showed this way now.  

I have this fantasy of selling the compost as "locally grown artisan garden compost" and charging $40 a garbage bag for it.  lol  j/k
 
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