Then we shoveled the finished compost from the bottom into a bucket, and sifted it through a screen my husband stapled to a rectangular wooden frame.
Below you can see a pic of my husband sifting it onto one of the raised beds. Unfortunately we only got enough to sprinkle maybe 1/4 - 1/2 inch on two beds.
Or maybe not so unfortunately! Now a month and a half later, I have more volunteered vegetables growing in the beds then I do ones I planted! The lettuce bed is filled with volunteer tomatoes, and many other unidentified plants. Some of them look like they could be either cucumbers, watermelon or squash but I really have no idea. Here in this picture you can see one tiny lettuce seedling that I purposely planted in the middle surrounded by volunteer tomatoes and the cuke/melon/squash thing:
I guess I could leave them to grow and find out what they are, but I really don't have enough room. So I think I will end up pulling everything out. (just one more thing to weed ugh) I might keep one of the tomatoes and put it in a large container I have unoccupied just to see what happens.
At least I finally found a source for semi-vegan compost. Well, ok, not really vegan. But it is made partially from recycled veggies and other foods, and only part of it is recycled animal wastes. It is so hard to find any compost in New Jersey at all, nevermind some that isn't entirely cheap quality, scary chicken poop (that will likely burn the plants), I am thrilled to have finally found this product. I searched and searched all last season and didn't find anything, so it is none too soon I'll be getting this. I can definitely tell the soil in my raised beds, which was only topsoil to begin with, is really hurting for some organic matter.
The crazy thing is I have to drive about 45 minutes away to get it. But the good news is it is not too far from the Rutherford Pancake House, which I've been dying to go to for the longest time. So at least we can make a nice trip of it and get a good stack of vegan pancakes! I called ahead to make sure the nursery listed on the website carries it, and even the employee I spoke to raved about what a great product it is. We're going to head there Saturday morning. Then Sunday I'll be able to mix it into the planting holes of all the tomatoes and peppers, then top dress the rest of the beds.