How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

How NOT to Make a Soil Screen

So I should first apologize for not writing on Monday and Tuesday … I’ve been pretty sick and just wasn’t up to it. But I’m feeling better!

Unfortunately being sick shot my plans of getting the soil blocks done and some of the starts going. But I did do some of that work today.

One of the common “ingredients” to the soil cube mixes I found was peat moss that had been screened. Unfortunately, I don’t own a screen.

However, I DO have a bunch of 1/2″ and 1/4″ hardware cloth lying around because of my beekeeping, and so I decided to repurpose that and make my own.

My first attempt was a simple design. I made a frame out of some 1/4″ lathe I had lying around from another project. Cut some 1/4″ hardware cloth to size, and stapled it to the frame.

Then the moment of truth. Which rapidly became the moment of failure.

A flat soil screen frame is not a good plan. I couldn’t really shake the frame because the peat would just fly off the edges. Even tapping it would cause quite a bit of spillage.

Clearly this wouldn’t work, so back to the drawing board.

I grabbed a 2×4 and some scrap 6″ fencing boards I had from other projects, and started making a new frame. I wish I had more 2×4, but I didn’t have enough for all four sides, so two sides were the 2×4 and the ends were the thinner fence boards.

I pulled the screen off the old frame and attached it to the new frame. Well, I would have, if I had been able to finish the new frame.

I jammed my pneumatic stapler, and couldn’t find the right allen wrench to disassemble it. See, Chinese junk from Harbor Freight seems to require an off sized wrench, and none of my standard wrenches fit. And I sure as heck couldn’t find the one that came with the stapler.

So, a hammer and a few nails later, my frame was done. A hand stapler and a few staples later, and the screen was soundly attached.

The next moment of truth had arrived. Which rapidly became the moment of almost-success.

The new screen design worked pretty well, except it kept falling into the wheelbarrow I was screening the peat into. Not good.

In a flash of brilliance (rare, but it happens) I took another 1/4″ lathe strip and attached it to one end of the frame so that it extended past the sides by 6″ or so on each side.

Now, true success. I can shake the heck out of the screen and it doesn’t fall into the wheelbarrow. It works pretty good, actually!

So, final thoughts from my soil screen creation adventures…

– You can do quite a bit with scraps.
– Don’t be afraid to scrap prototypes.
– It’s ok to screw up. Life goes on.
– It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to work.

Pictures if I get around to it … but I may just throw them into the soil cube post once they’re done.

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2 Responses to How NOT to Make a Soil Screen

  1. So when will you finish telling how to make the soil cubes? That looks like a handy bit of knowledge! :) Thanks for the info.