Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Garden prep time in Florida

It's getting to be that time again, when Floridians think about getting their hands in the dirt to plant the fall garden. We garden on a very different schedule from those up north.

I noticed that a tree that had fallen years ago, one where we pushed the trunks into an area with other things growing, had rotted down quite a bit and left a lovely pile of... rotted tree.

I'm a gardener who doesn't like to toss organic material (I've even been known to go collect what others put out for yard waste on occasion) so this pile looked like a really nice source of soil amendment... one that I know wasn't sprayed with anything I'd prefer not to use in my yard.

It was pretty chunky here and there and I needed a sieve. I checked online and didn't want to spend the money for what I found there - and I didn't want to make the same kind I've made in years past... with hardware cloth and a wooden frame. I'm of an age where I like things lighter and easier to manage.

After thinking a bit I decided I could use an extra dishpan and drill many holes with a quarter inch drill bit which would leave me with a pretty fine end product. Once I decide to do things I often do them quickly and I'm more concerned with function than form... so I ended up with this rather wiggly dirt sieve:

It was a Sterilite dishpan and I used a regular drill bit, with the precaution of having some waste plywood underneath the drilling area so I wouldn't damage what was underneath.

I was happy with the way it turned out (yes - I know it's not picture perfect... but it works!) so decided to make another. I even marked it so it came out more evenly. This one was made using a half inch drill bit.

So for the sieving of the rotted tree I gathered the two sieves, a mortar tub (super handy and available at my Home Depot) a bucket for the half inch sieved stuff, and some gloves.

This is what the pile of rotted tree looks like:

Here it is collected in the dishpan with the half inch holes, ready to be sieved:

Here's what is left after I sieved it. I returned this to the area as mulch.

Here's what was sieved from the half inch hole sieve into the quarter inch hole sieve:

And here's what was left in the quarter inch hole sieve after I shook out all the little stuff:

This is what the half inch stuff looks like after collection:

Here's the quarter inch stuff:

And here's everything ready to go back to the house to be used in potting up some plants.

I'm pleased with how it turned out and will use this method to sift out my compost, leaf mold, and other organic goodies I find around the yard.

There's been a meme going around and one of the admonitions is "Make more - buy less"... I'm happy I was able to make very functional sieves out of dishpans I had laying around the house, and have an end product of great stuff for potting.

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