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Old April 18, 2015   #1
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Newbury Park, CA
Posts: 51
Default sift mulch or use as is?

I just got a load of free mulch from the city. I know the smaller particles will decay sooner and I don't have any problem going to get more when it decays. Should I sift the mulch or just use it as is? Sifted with a 1/4 mesh screen. I can also sift with a 1/2" screen. I saved the sifted material to place into my tumbling composter that I fill with kitchen scraps that is often too "wet".

Unsifted and sifted mulch with pennies for comparison:
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File Type: jpg mulch-sifted.jpg (190.4 KB, 68 views)
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Old April 19, 2015   #2
Redbaron's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,478

It works either way. I personally use as is myself. I have sifted partially composted wood chip mulch before, but mainly I sift after almost composting fully just to clean out the bigger wood chips. Then I use the smaller sifted material and continue composting the bigger chips after mixing with grass clippings.

AKA The Redbaron

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture

Last edited by Redbaron; April 19, 2015 at 03:06 AM.
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Old April 19, 2015   #3
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: California Central Valley
Posts: 2,403

I'd use it as is. However: I've been getting a lot of a bright yellow slime mold all over the sheet-mulched yard in the past couple weeks! I didn't even think about sifting the mulch, and probably wouldn't to separate out the fines, but I'm wondering if all the leafy stuff in this batch of mulch contributed to the slime-mold party.

I do pick out the larger pieces (thicker than my arm or wider than my hand) to use in hugelkultur beds.
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Old April 19, 2015   #4
Join Date: May 2008
Location: zone 5 Colorado
Posts: 862

Ditto. We only pick out the small branch pieces and larger 2-3" pieces. I'm been saving a bucket for hugelkultur and now am again inspired to try one. Thanks, habitat.
Now to clean out a place. Spring is the best time!!
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Old April 20, 2015   #5
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Newbury Park, CA
Posts: 51

Thanks! I will use as is with the exception of sifting some out to use the smaller stuff in my tumbling composter as needed to dry it out a bit.
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