Dateline: 4 August 2008
Updated: 26 April 2013
I’ve been an enthusiastic gardener since I was a teenager. My interest right from the beginning has been in organic gardening. One of the fundamental elements of organic gardening is compost.
Early on, as I learned about the wonders of using compost in the garden, I was discouraged by the fact that it takes so long to make the stuff. It can take up to a year for a pile of organic materials (i.e. weeds, kitchen scraps, & animal manure) to decompose into compost.
Teenagers are not known for their patience, and my patience was especially short because my family attended a fundamentalist Baptist church.
I didn’t expect to be around in a year. I had read Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth.” I had been to see that Billy Graham movie, A Thief in The Night. I listened to speakers proclaim that end times Bible prophecy was coming to pass. The rapture of the church was supposed to happen before the nation of Israel (founded in 1948) was a generation old (and a generation was defined as 30 years). Preachers assured their listeners that the Antichrist was in the wings, ready to assume his diabolical role in the Great Tribulation. There was a lot of speculation about exactly who the Antichrist might be. Henry Kissinger was a likely candidate.
I believed what the Biblical prognosticators prognosticated. Never would I have dreamed that I would remain here on this earth as long as I have. It’s a wonder I even took time to plant any seeds in the garden back then.
Now, half a century old, I’m a little bit more discerning. The hyper-dispensationalist beliefs of my younger days have been supplanted by the more orthodox postmillenial doctrines held by the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the Reformers before them.
When I compare the fruit of these bifurcating eschatological doctrines, I see anxiety, selfishness, defeatism, and denial of responsibility on the one hand, and selflessness, hopeful, responsible optimism on the other. Dispensationalists focus on what they see as satan’s sovereignty over this world, while the postmillenialists focus on God’s absolute sovereignty over all His creation, for all time. The one focus sustains a shallow, shortsighted faith, while the other cultivates faith with greater depth. I’ve seen it from both sides and that’s the way it appears to me.
Curiously, it turns out that this whole dispensational way of thinking is relatively new in the history of The Church. It rose to prominence, roughly paralleling the rise of the industrial revolution. I see it as a part of modernist Christian theology, which so often propagates the newest Christian fad-belief-movement, and profits financially from misleading the faithful.
Modern Christianity appears to lead modern Christians here and there like ancient Israel wandering in the wilderness, moving ahead, but in circles, never arriving in the promised land, being fed with manna from heaven, but never feasting on the milk and honey that is just over the border in Canaan. It is an analogy that fits the whole industrial movement itself.
Time will, of course, tell which branch of doctrine is correct (they can’t both be), and it could be that I am completely wrong. But I’ve had my fill of dispensationalist thinking, thank you.
Whatever the outcome, I am absolutely certain of one thing: Postmillenialists are theologically predisposed to making better compost than their dispensationalist brethren. There is just no question about it.
In addition to all of that, I can attest that the advancing of age brings a different perspective of time. After making it through fifty years, another one doesn’t seem so long to me. And so I now patiently and joyfully make compost piles each year to use on the following year’s garden. Which finally brings me to the subject of my nifty new compost sifter.
If you have read much of this blog, you already know that I’ve written and posted pictures telling about the unique mechanical compost sifter I made several years back. It’s a dandy machine. You can read all about it HERE.
The only drawback to that motor-driven contraption is that it’s big, heavy, and motor-driven. It also requires a modest investment of money and time to build. Then there is the matter of eventual maintenance and repair, not to mention the need for electricity to run the thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I like machines. they have their place. But I also like utter simplicity. There are plenty of times when I need only one garden cart full of sifted compost, or less. There are times when I don’t want to deal with the noise of a big machine and the hassle of running power cords. It is for such times that I invented the compost sifter shown in the picture below. It is utter simplicity coupled with ease and efficiency.
What you are looking at in the picture (taken from high atop the compost pile) is a Whizbang Garden Cart (anyone can build one). That cart is among the most versatile and useful tools on my little homestead!
On top of the cart is the nifty compost sifter. As you can see, the sifter rests on two 2x4 support pieces. Those pieces are screwed to the sifter box. And they have shallow notches on the bottoms that fit over the top sides of the garden cart. I rubbed some candle way on the top of the cart sides and the sifter box glides back and forth almost effortlessly.
Of course, if you heap the box up with unsifted compost, it requires some effort to shake it back and forth, but it is still relatively easy to do. The box measures 22” by 26” and is made of 1x8 pine boards. The bottom is 1/2” hardware cloth. The two handles are 1-1/2” by 1-1/2” pine screwed into the corners. I shaved down the top ends to get a comfortable handhold. Here’s a picture of me (taken over the top of the compost pile)shaking down a big load of compost.
Here’s a picture of my 17-year-old son, Robert, shaking down a load of compost.
Sifting compost is a great job for a teenage boy, especially if he is helping his mom or dad. Marlene can easily use the sifter too, but she will only want to sift two or three shovelfuls at a time. Actually, the less you fill the box, the faster it sifts out.
After sifting, the remaining unsiftables, like rocks, stones, missing kitchen cutlery, spent shotgun shells, and whatnot, can be disposed of. Here is another view of the sifter.
So there you go. That’s my utterly simple compost-sifter box.
Make a Whizbang Garden Cart. Make a sifter box. Make compost. Sift it. Use it to grow good food for yourself and your family. Such things are part of “the good life.” At least, they are for me.