Since we started the garden project this spring, I'd been thinking about fertilizer for next year--more specifically, compost. I got a book and was all excited to start until I realized it'd be wiser to wait until I had access to some fall leaves.
This weekend I stayed in suburbia to take advantage of the better-than-expected weather (60s!) and the bounty of leaves on the ground. What with the abundance of cherry, apple, maple and oak trees in our back yard, there was more than enough fodder; it was just a matter of time, clear skies and manpower to get it all together.
The book said leaves are practically useless unless they're shredded, and it recommended using a leaf-blower with a vacuum/mulching function or a mulching lawnmower. I didn't really want to invest in those, so I went with a third option: a garbage can and a weed whacker. The book said goggles were a must for this method and it was NOT kidding.
So I put on my earphones and protective goggles I suspect are left over from high school chemistry, poured a mix of oil and gasoline into our decrepit weed whacker and got to work. It wasn't as intuitive as I'd thought, but after about four garbage-canfuls I got the hang of it. By the time it got dark again today, about twelve or thirteen garbage cans of leaves were shredded and stuffed into four chicken-wire compost bins plus one lawn refuse bag (in case I need more later).
It was a lot of physical labor, but I relished the time outside while I can still have it. Yesterday my mom was at work so I didn't have to worry about trying to keep her inside. I had the day to work mindlessly and just think, which is also rare luxury. Today mom was off so of course she was right there helping me, even though she probably shouldn't be lifting too much or pulling weeds (she swears she only did with the arm on her non-post-surgery side). I tried to find other jobs for her like cutting through chicken wire or making tea, or better yet staying inside and watching television but she couldn't imagine sitting on the couch while I was outside working in the yard. I'm certainly going to tell on her when I get back to the hospital tomorrow, but was nice to have another set of hands to keep things steady. And we always make a phenomenal team.
I will try and post pictures of my rudimentary compost piles--hopefully they will cook up into some healthy stuff for the garden next spring. It's my first attempt at this sort of thing and I've got my fingers crossed that it'll turn out well. But even if it doesn't, at least I got that crisp, refreshing satisfaction from laboring outside.
That feeling will have to tide me over until it's time to shovel the driveway.