Handmade Gifts for Gardeners, Idea No. 3

Compost is a miracle, I tell you, a miracle.

You pile up all kinds of plant debris all year long and then one beautiful, cool, sunny fall day you go out there and dig below that first layer of uncomposted material and there it is.

Compost. Black gold. A gardener's dream. The plants' delight.

When you add compost to your garden you can't help but have bountiful vegetable harvests and beautiful flowers.

Which brings me to the third handmade gift for a gardener, a compost sieve.

Thought it isn't crafty like a seed packet or a garden journal, a compost sieve is a useful handmade gift that any gardener would appreciate.

I made mine from 1 x 6 cedar boards and half inch hardware cloth. As you can see, you make two sides wider than your wheelbarrow, so the sieve can sit on top of it. I used narrow strips of wood on the side with the hardware cloth to help hold it in place.

Your measurements will vary depending on the size of the wheelbarrow, so I won't include measurements here.

You all know how to use a compost sieve, right? You put it over the wheelbarrow, shovel a few scoops of compost in it, and then push the compost through the screening into the wheelbarrow. What doesn't go through the screen you throw back into the compost bin.

To make this a complete gift for a new gardener, you might also include some of your own instructions on how to make a compost pile, but don't make it too complicated. Compost doesn't have to be complicated with all kinds of rules about green material and brown material and watering and turning.

Compost is easy! Just pile on the plant material and eventually, a miracle happens. Compost happens.

Yes, with the "proper" ratios of green/brown plant material, watering, and turning, compost will happen faster, but even without all of that, it will still happen eventually.

Would you like to see my compost area after I worked on it all morning and half the afternoon?

Here it is! From the right... one fairly full bin, then a half filled bin, and an empty bin. On the far left is a pile of potting soil emptied out of some of the containers.
I'm stock piling the old potting soil because I'll need some dirt at some point to fill in some place, and the raised beds, where I usually dump the old potting soil, are full to the top with all good rich compost I harvested today.

I'm not done cleaning up the container plants, leaves, hostas, etc., but I'm relaxed and confident knowing that I have plenty of room in my bins for all of it. And I'm eager to plant the vegetable garden next spring, in all those beds enriched with compost.

So that's idea no. 3. Share that good compost feeling by making a compost sieve for your favorite gardener.


  1. Carol, Thanks for taking the time and effort to share these handmade gifts. When my kids were growing up I used to make lots of crafty things for the folks on my Christmas list. Not so much anymore. But you've got me thinking about it again...

    I've never used a compost sieve but I like the idea. I agree with you about letting compost happen without the fuss. It IS a miracle and one I get excited about!

  2. Let's see....who has my name in the Christmas draw??? :-)

  3. Carol, before I read your whole post I thought you were suggesting giving bags of compost. I'll take one!

  4. good idea. I was out 'reorganizing'
    my compost pile today. Now my back is tired, but I know the effort will pay off next spring. And I have a friend bringing me leaves mixed with grass! What a good friend!

  5. I am such a dork. I looked at the picture and read your opening paragraph, and my eyes got really big. My heart began to pound... what a wonderful idea! Would a friend or family member of mine really love me enough to make me even just one barrowful of that lovely "black gold of the garden?"

    And then I saw that you just meant that they should make the sieve. *sigh*

    Darn it, Carol, you've got to start thinking bigger with the gifts! After all, most of us have been pretty good this year--compost good, not just compost sieve good. ;)

  6. Meems... Thanks for the comment. Handmade gifts, in this age of consumerism, are indeed special!

    Sister with the Homestead... Do you really want a compost sieve for Christmas? Really?

    Lost Roses... Well, if you lived across the street or next door, I might give you some. Might, so don't get your hopes up. I'm terribly greedy when it comes to my own compost.

    Muum... That is a good friend to bring you more stuff for your compost pile!

    Blackswamp_Girl.. That is too funny. 'Compost' good versus 'compost sieve' good. I'm not sure there are very many people on my list who would think that the compost was a great gift, even if I said 'but I worked all year making it for you'!

    Thanks all for the comments, watch for gift idea no. 4, coming soon!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  7. I would "love" to get a compost sieve for a christmas gift which will be the next opportunity for me to receive a gift. Hmmmmmmmm
    I must have my Dearly Beloved read this post. :)

    What a good set-up for your compost operation. No wonder your raised beds are so prolific.

  8. Carol,
    You have been a busy girl.
    I love the idea of a compost sieve.
    Hand made gifts are the best.
    Don't work too hard.

  9. Excellent gift idea for any gardener ... I would love to get one of those.

    Your garden is huge! I love the raised beds. Everything looks so tidy.

  10. I would just like to suggest to all users of a compost sieve such as Carol's: make sure you wear gloves when you push that compost through the sieve, or you will have sore fingers! Actually you don't push it through so much as move it around and around, and it falls through on its own.

  11. What a great blog. I've just discovered you, but some great ideas for the crafty gardener in me!

    We've just moved to a new house and I just started two new composters last week so I'll be needing a sieve very soon.

    Happy GTS!

  12. your gardening space is so large! I can see how it keeps you busy!
    I have never composted NO can you believe this from naturegirl!!
    We live in a subdivision and the houses are too close...so perhaps my home in the country I can have the
    ~golden earth!! HUgs NG

  13. carol - thanks for explaining the compost sieve. i suppose i should try to make one of those before my first batch is ready. i had heard you guys mentioning these before and understood the concept but had no clue how to construct one.

  14. Lisa at Greenbow... I hope you do get one made for you, they are so nice to have.

    Chigiy... It's fall in the garden, I have to work hard to keep up.

    Kate... thanks for the kind words. I just finished cleaning up the garden, which is why it looks good now.

    Kathy... excellent point about the gloves. You do need to wear heavy work gloves. And your description of what you to to the compost is much better than mine!

    Anne... welcome and thanks for the kinds words.

    Naturegirl... I am a bit shocked that you don't have any compost but if neighbors are close by, I can see why you don't.

    Gina... Happy to help, you should definitely make one for all the composting you are doing.

    Thanks all for the kinds words and comments.
    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  15. Hi Carol,
    OKAY!!!! You (and Paul James) have completely inspired me!!! I have a suburban lot and have convinced myself that I would just buy my compost. I was first inspired by your post on the cleaning up pile and Paul showed a compost sieve on his show this week and now, this! Carol, I started my own pile yesterday! It's pretty tiny, but will get huge when I have to cut the Mexican Petunia down! I have decided to forego the bin and just have a pile with a cute fence in front of it. Next thing you know I will be making a sieve!!!!! Chris

  16. Gardenmomma(Chris)...I'm so exciting you are joining the ranks of composters!

  17. A compost seive - what a great idea! Of course it'll be a gift for me, I'm the only one in my family who composts.

  18. Most of the time when I hear "gifts for the gardener" I groan because it is typically some silly gadget I could do without. But this - this I actually want!!! It is offically on the wishlist!


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