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Shred It Yourself

One of our running jokes about gardening has to do with our ability to save money through our production. When we have asparagus, I’ll say to Jim, “Wow, there’s $40 of asparagus in that there bed!” The same with our jalapeños, which I note are worth hundreds of dollars, at grocery store prices. And don’t get me started on rhubarb, which costs quite a lot in the store, but grows so profusely if you plant it.

Another thing that we’re rich in is leaf mulch. Like really rich. I saw a little bag of leaf mulch or leaf mold, as it’s sometimes called, in a gardening store for $6.00. We have about 100 times that! And we make it ourselves.

When we rake up our leaves in the fall, we store them in large paper yard bags, the kind other people put their yard waste in and leave at the curb to get picked up by the city collectors. We used to store those filled bags in the top story of our old barn, which, due to its leaky nature, did not result in dry leaves in the spring. Now that we have our new, water-proof barn, it’s a whole different story. Our bags of leaves emerged from the barn attic in prime crispy-dry state.

Only a year ago, we shredded our leaves by hand, using a large gauge screen to push them through. It was hard work, rubbing the leaves over the surface of the screen and filling the wheelbarrow with the extraordinarily useful leaf-bits.

We stepped up to modern times when we inherited a power shredder from a friend who’d gotten a better one herself. Now the whole shredding process can be completed in a scene of noisy industry lasting just about an hour.

This leaf mulch is one of our powerful gardening secrets. We will spread on a thick layer to keep down the weeds and, believe me, it really does. It’s a priceless technique.

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