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Our new hand trommel sifter - Backyard Grocery

Our new hand trommel sifter

hand trommel sifter

Rick sends the first batch of compost through our new hand trommel sifter.

The fun never ends here at the Backyard Grocery! This week, Rick built his very own hand trommel sifter to make the job of separating our worms from their castings a little bit easier. Add hand trommel sifters to the list of garden tools I never dreamed existed, but that I now own. The list is getting very long.

Rick is all about making life in the garden easier. He has a point: if the garden work isn’t completely back breaking, I’m more likely to participate in it. And I did…we sifted some of the compost from the manure compost bin in our garden yesterday and it worked great. Rick just has a few more modifications to make, and we’ll be ready to really plough through that huge bin. Then the hand trommel sifter will come home so we can use it with the worms. See, I told you the fun never ends.

hand trommel sifter

Three phases of compost: the good stuff, the almost good stuff, and the stuff to toss back in the bin.

Making a hand trommel sifter

Rick found the plans for the hand trommel sifter from a guy named Mike. I don’t know much more about Mike, except he’s clever and you can find the instructions on his web site. Of course, Rick modified it a bit. He’s going to add a hopper, which will greatly facilitate actually getting the compost inside the trommel sifter (right now it’s not all that easy to do). And he needs to add some smaller screen because the few worms living in our outdoor compost slid right through the screen. We don’t want that. That is, in fact, the opposite of what we want.

All in all, this device cost about $50 to make, which I think is a bargain for the hours it’s going to save us working with both compost bins. And, Rick got to make a new tool, which makes him happy, which is priceless.

hand trommel sifter

The sifter sitting on our compost bin, waiting for modifications.

Do you compost? What methods have you come up with to make it successful and/or easier?

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3 Responses to Our new hand trommel sifter

  • Mike says:

    Rick and Susan,

    I must take a minute here to say congratulations on a fantastic trommel. I’m Mike, the inventor, and have been collecting different designs for my scrapbook. I’m very pleased with yours and hope it works out for all your sifting and classifying needs. The double barrel with different screens is an interesting take on my original set of plans. I could suggest a two flumes directing the screened material into 5 gallon buckets. It might save you time so you’re not shoveling again and you can easily move the screened material to another location. Again …….. great job!


    • Susan says:

      Hi Mike,
      The trommel is great! A few days after than picture was taken Rick did add a flume, and that saves so much time! We actually put big Rubbermaid containers under each part of screen, and that works great. For purposes of the worm composting, Rick is going to make another smaller trommel with just the first stage with the finer screen–the worms start escaping through the larger holes. But the trommel design is wonderful. It takes Rick about 10 minutes to do a separation that would take 2 hours with the traditional sifting method. Thanks for sharing your design. 🙂

  • Valeria says:

    That looks cool. I’ve been building Mike’s Trommel these past two days. I hope to publish my finished product with a few tips for things I found confusing or helpful to know.

    I like the double screen. that’s very clever. I am doing the simplest design because I want to use it both for my worm compost as well as the local city compost which means I’ll need two screens but at different times. So I’ll probably just make a snap on smaller screen for doing my worm compost.

    Because of reading your blog, and because of Mike’s wonderful generosity with the design plans, I think It might be fun to make a smaller trommel with the smaller diameter extra pvc pieces I have lying about, maybe make that one dedicated to the worms since it is such a small harvest.

    And I’m pleased to see that Mike Responds personally to blogs about the trommel.

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