Archive for January, 2013

Gone Leaf Crazy

Leaf me no excuses

Raised bed garden from REARHave made halfhearted attempts to use compost over the years but have found the  piles more than I cared to deal with.

I have no doubt of the  benefits, just tend to lose  interest in the building, turning and time involved from garden waste to finished product.

Now, age has created an endurance factor that severely limits my ability to do these things, anyway.

My small property does not generate  enough by-product; I have to purchase nitrogenous materials to add to the small amount of brown waste I do produce; there is no source for animal manures readily available.

Interested in any more excuses for NOT?

Bag them leaves–I will come

After tearing down  two  small piles of waste and actually seeing what could be accomplished, my interest in composting was renewed.  This time I decided there might be a way to compost, even with my limited materials.

Effort number one:  call the city sanitation department  about getting some leaves delivered.    Well, seems that even though we must bag our leaves for street side pickup, delivery to my property was not possible.

The leaf bags are collected by machine and dumped into a garbage type truck which mixes everything into one big glob of mess.   Drats!

The sanitation supervisor suggested:  “Why don’t you  collect the bags ahead of us?”    Bingo!!

Effort number two: Homeowners  spend week ends cleaning leaves  from lawns, bagging them,  placing on the curb for pickup by the city on an irregular basis.   I can get all the leaves I want.A godsend, a common disposal site

Actually, I had done this on a limited basis under cover of darkness, but felt self-conscious.   Being granted permission to pick up another man’s trash,  freed me of off I go in the daylight with my little truck.

What luck,  one  neighborhood has chosen a common dump area to place its bags.   Their treasure!

Over a two week period I have all the leaves I can use for another year!

Well, actually, I have bags of leaves piled high against my fence.  I have a thick layer of leaves on beds I am determined to reclaim for flowers around my property.

 My problem?  They need shredding!

Effort number  three: Folks, except for shredding with a lawnmower, I have never shredded leaves.  Yep, I have preconceived naive ideas of how simple this is going to be.        Mower does a good job–but I have so many!

Heck, all those commercials make it look so easy using a leaf vac .   I try it.  A real pain in the butt!  Not any faster than the lawnmower–and a lot more work.

If I just had a  shredder chipper–now, surely,  all I have to do is dump ’em in and stand back!

A good friend loaned me a  one of those mini monsters that are suppose to chop 2 inch limbs; boy, I can visualize  my pulverized treasure piling up in front of that thing!

Was I ever educated to the fact that just because  it looks like it SHOULD be easy, it ain’t necessarily!   I have to hand feed this joker through that leaf shoot, one handful at a time!

I  found a  machine  designed as a leaf shredder that seems it would be heavy duty enough for what  I am doing ( leaf feed bin that could  accommodate a bag of leaves each dump)   almost $800 (on sale); I am sticking to  hand feeding that sucker I am using.

I think all this effort will pay

In the first photo you see my raised garden area where I plan to concentrate my efforts this year.     My flower beds will be receiving their share of my collected treasure.Lettuce and Cabbage in raised bed  4-20

 Realistically, greater benefit will come in 2014 when all this will be leaf mold, and real compost from the shredded materials I am preparing in a compost pile.

These leaves, originally destined for the dump, will  give me all the organic matter I didn’ t have before;  add the nitrogen I get from my few chicken’s manure; throw in a few thousand red worms I am feeding in my worm bin—I might ………………………………..dreams keep us alive!!