Thursday, November 22, 2012

Autumn Leaves - Blow Then Suck

On my less than .5 acre/2,024sq meters of property stand 10 large trees. Half are in my front yard. There is a beech, an ash a dogwood, hickory and a huge Norway Maple. The leaves that fall from these trees are vital to the my composting for the garden.

To start the composting process, I blow the leaves into piles. The leaves are then vacuumed, which shreds them as they pass the impeller inside the blower/vacuum. They are then hauled out to the back yard and dumped into the compost pile.

I started about noon to collect the leaves one bright and warm November day. Four hours later, I had the leaves from the main portion of my front yard blown into a serpentine pile across the lawn. 

There were also two piles in the road that I hoped wouldn't be blown away by the vehicular traffic. Big trucks, especially, have a way of relocating leaves. My back ached and my hand was showing signs of a blister. That was it for me until morning.

In the morning I changed the leaf blower over to a vacuum. The part of the blower that took in air the day before became the part that took in leaves. The part of the blower from which blew air would blow leaves.

Originally when I purchased the leaf blower/vacuum, a shoulder bag was supplied to collect the shredded leaves. A bag that became heavier as it filled with shredded leaves. The collection bag soon became cumbersome. If I needed to change hands, which happens often, I also needed to change shoulders. The bag needed to be emptied frequently, too, because it didn't hold that much volume. 

I didn't put up with that for very long. I returned to the home improvement store, from which I purchased the blower/vacuum, to look for an alternative to the shoulder bag collection method. There I found a different manufacturer had a collection kit that included a length of flexible hose connected to a cloth that fit over the opening of a trash can.

Here is how it works. The blower vacuums the leaves, shreds them and sends them through the flexible tubing depositing them into an upright trash can. A can that could support all the weight. It would also hold five times the volume of the shredded leaves as would the shoulder bag. That meant there was five times less emptying of the bag. Pretty simple. I bought the kit.

Leaf Vacuum System

There was one problem. The parts from the two manufactures weren't compatible. I had to jury rig them to work together. That was taken care of with the help of duct tape.

I put the two openings together - hose to vacuum. Two long strips of tape were placed 180ยบ around the tube from each other across the joint. Then several longer strips were placed radially around the tube and vacuum to create the seal and hold down the initial two strips. It has worked for over ten years, so far.

In four hours the serpentine pile and one of the piles in the road were vacuumed, shredded, hauled to the back yard and dumped into the waiting bin. Shredding the leaves sure does reduce the volume. It also accommodates and speeds their composting.

The next step is to get bacteria to do their job making compost.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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