This may just be me. It’s sort of a cross between the crazy cat lady and the guys who go around the neighborhood on the night everyone puts out their recycling looking for bottles and cans. Back in June, I took a pile of my neighbor’s yard clippings from her driveway. It was dusk, and anyone looking out their window would have seen two strange figures (my husband and I) going back and forth across the street, wheeling our wheelbarrow full of our neighbors garden waste. Okay, granted, I did text her earlier in the day to ask permission, so I’m not so daring as I hoped it would sound, but I DID contemplate digging in their green bin (it was full of branches and leaves!). Why would I be taking a pile of yard clippings? I am attempting to convert my entire backyard into a food-producing space based on the concept of permaculture: chop and drop just like in nature. Of course, I’m helping nature “chop and drop” with my clippers and handy-dandy wood-chipper! And while my neighbor’s garden clippings aren’t from my property, they certainly are from the environment my garden shares – the idea is everything in your garden should stay in your garden – all leaves, yard clippings, small twigs, and branches should be used to feed subsequent crops through the natural composting process.
The same weekend, I noticed another neighbor trimming some trees in his front yard. I ran over and said, “Ken, can I take all that stuff?” He didn’t look at me like I was that crazy. After explaining our backyard goals, he said that I could, of course, take whatever branches and leaves that I wanted. Then, he came over to take a look at our progress. “Sort of a farm thing going on, huh?” Music to my ears … exactly the response I wanted to hear! After explaining to Ken the importance of leaf mold, I enlisted my husband to take the wheelbarrow back and forth between his front yard and our backyard. The majority of what we got that day were branches from his non-fruit-bearing pear tree. Take a look:
And here are those same branches at the end of August:
Seeing as it is now mid-October, I need to get working. Since I don’t want to burn out my wood chipper, I do a little each weekend – a couple more weekends, and all this will be converted into great wood chips that I will add to my growing compost piles.