Before you bring the nutrients from the compost to the bed, components that have not yet rotted should be sieved out. This is very easy with a wooden frame that is tightly covered with close-meshed wire. Here’s how to build the compost screen yourself.
The principle of a compost sieve is as simple as it is effective. Even beginners can easily build it. The highlight: the sieve made of rabbit wire can either be used freely in the garden or put on the wheelbarrow so that the sifted compost falls immediately into the trough. If the sieve is not needed, you can simply fold it up and stow it away to save space.
A compost screen is important to remove the coarse particles in the compost heap before the compost can be used as soil for beds with fine-grained seeds. Whether the compost has to be converted and sieved also depends on how well the plant material has already rotted. With good decomposition it is possible to remove the large parts of the plant by hand. But here, too, it is easier with a compost sieve.
Instead of buying an electronic sieve, you can simply build a pass-through sieve yourself. Using squared timber, glue and metal angles, you build a frame in which you clamp wire. With two supports, the sieve is quickly and easily converted into a pass-through sieve.
Build your own compost sieve: that’s what you need
- Wooden slats for the frame and the support (40 x 25 mm in approx. 75 cm and 120 cm length)
- The most stable, close-meshed rabbit wire possible with a mesh size of 10 to 13 mm
- two 8 mm thick threaded or metal rods
- ten angle connectors (4×4 cm) that match the wooden slats
- eight L-flat angle connectors
- Wood screws of various lengths
- hook bolts
- nails with a broad head (e.g. roofing felt nails)
- 4 x 6 mm eyebolts (metric thread), matching washers and nuts
- two folding hinges
- weatherproof cord
- Jigsaw or chop saw
- Cordless drills, drills and bits
- screw clamp if necessary
- metal scissors
- folding rule and pencil
Build a compost sieve yourself: step-by-step instructions
Step 1: build the frame
Cut the required slats to size. Then screw the frame together using the four angle connectors. Tip: set the dimensions of the frame so that it fits on your wheelbarrow and protrudes a few centimeters on both sides.
Step 2: reinforce the frame
To strengthen the connections, four L-flat angle connectors are screwed into the corners on one side of the frame.
Step 3: build the support
Assemble the support at the same time: this is mounted with the angle connectors in a similar way to the frame and reinforced with the L-connectors; however, a cross brace is not placed at the bottom, but rather in the middle for reinforcement.
Step 4: cut the wire
Cut the wire so that it almost fits into the wooden frame. The wire has to be approx. 2 to 3 cm smaller, as you pull it apart a little while tensioning. After cutting the wire, cut or bend protruding sharp wire tips.
Step 5: attach hook bolts
Screw the hook bolts on the inside of the short sides of the wooden frame at regular intervals. The number depends on the wire mesh used and the dimensions of the wooden frame. In our case, six hooks on each side hold the rather thin wire, with a stiffer wire and a narrower frame, a hook screw in the middle may be sufficient.
Step 6: Tip: screw in the hook
Hook bolts can be easily screwed in with the cordless screwdriver and an additional hook. To do this, pre-drill the holes and screw in the screws hand-tight. Clamp a second screw hook in the drill chuck and click into the first hook. When turning, this near pulls itself into the wood.
Step 7: shorten the threaded rods
Cut the threaded rods with a hacksaw. The bars must fit into the frame. Clamp the bars well so that they don’t slip.
Step 8: thread rods
The wire mesh is stretched across the width of the frame between threaded rods that are held on each side by four eye bolts.
First, thread the rods alternately up and down through the wire with rotating movements and place the screws evenly.
The rods can still be threaded on easily.
Step 9: drill holes for eyebolts
Then mark the position for the eye bolts on the frame and drill the holes.
Step 10: tension the wire
Tensioning the wire can be done alone, but it is best to do it in pairs. First attach a threaded rod to the frame with the eyebolts (secure from the outside with nuts) and pull the wire taut with the help of the other. Then lift the wire slightly and, as you lower it, gradually snap it into the hook screws. If necessary, help a little with a screwdriver.
Step 11: attach locking hooks
At the lower end of the frame (i.e. on the side with the screw hooks), two corner connectors are screwed on the inside so that you can hold the compost sieve on the wheelbarrow and prevent it from slipping.
Step 12: attach the hinges
Tighten the hinges at the top end of the frame (i.e. not where the two locking brackets are located).
Then attach the protective frame on the opposite side.
Step 13: view
The support frame can be opened and closed.
Step 14: tension the rope
To lock the maximum span of the two frame parts, cut two pieces of the same size of the weatherproof rope.
Nail them down at the same height as the frame sides.
Step 15: Seven
To sieve, simply throw the raw compost against the sieve with a shovel and wipe it off. The sifted, coarse components are put back on the compost and mixed with the next fresh ingredients. The fine parts fall through – either directly onto the bed or into the wheelbarrow.
The finished compost sieve can be used every 2 months in spring to move the compost. To know if the compost is ripe, watch the red compost worms. If you can’t find any more worms in the compost heap, all parts of the plant have been turned into humus. Mature humus smells of forest soil. No plant remains can be seen.
Did you like building this sieve and would you like to build more yourself in your garden? Then we have put together a great collection of many construction plans for you that you can easily recreate yourself. Starting with raised beds for your backyard up to complex wooden huts. You can easily build everything yourself with the detailed plans.