Clean Up Time
No matter when you do it, cleaning up the garden is a lot of work. I leave a lot of the stalky plants standing over the winter because it's easier to cut them down in spring when they're brown and crispy. Even so, I still can't figure out what to do with the huge pile of debris that's left when I've finished cutting them all down. I hate getting rid of compostible material by hauling it out to the road for the town pick up, but my property and compost heap are small, and I don't have enough room for all of it.
Last weekend I thought I'd get a jump on the garden while the weather was nice. I was itching to cut back the clematis vines on the front of the house. I have a lot of them, and yes, they are the very ones I wrote about so enthusiastically in last weeks post! Their woody stems take forever to break down and so do the ornamental grasses I wanted to cut down. I wanted to get to work, but hesitated because pick up wasn't schedued until the end of the month and I didn't want grass foliage and vines blowing all over the neighborhood.
As I pondered my options, I remembered the small electric leaf shredder I had cast into the outer darkness of my tool shed. I bought it to make leaf compost, but it proved to be a useless piece of equipment because the leaves (which were never dry) got all gummed up in the blades and jammed the machine every time I used it. It occurred to me that I might have better luck shredding the grasses and vines. I thought dryness might be the key factor for success, and I was right.
Sure enough, the machine hungrily chomped them down in no time. It did jam a few times, but only because I got greedy and tried to stuff too much in at once.
When I got the hang of it, I made quick work of the pile and reduced 9 vines and 10 hefty ornamental grasses into 8 buckets of finely shredded material that I dumped on the compost heap. I managed to get the job done in about 3 hours from start to finish. This is what it looked like.
I'm not suggesting that you buy a leaf shredder, but if you have one, why limit it to chewing up leaves? This trusty little machine is now back in my good graces and earning its place in my tool shed. I'm going to start looking around in those dark corners to see what other treasures I can unearth.