I spent a fair bit of time recently on my knees, beside a revving machine, tea towel tied over mouth and nose, sunnies on and earplugs in. My neighbour was cracking up over a couple of drinks the other night – “I’ve been watching you, it makes me feel tired. You know I’m getting a big mulcher for this tree out the front in few days time?” Useful tip now I’ve sent the mini mulcher back…. It’s pruning time as we come into winter, and I was lucky enough to get a lend of a mulching machine, a nice piece of Aussie engineering called the “Piecemaker”, so I could better process the abundance of woody goodness our little town block pumps out.
Ice Cream Beans, lilly pillies, olive, citrus, mulberry, fig, loquat, plus grevilleas, tea trees and wattle trees – all have copped a heavy chop, with a chainsaw necessary for the major branches on a lot of them.
The smaller diameter wood and the leaves gradually made their somewhat laborious way through the mulcher, and the stack of wood for hugelculture, firewood and temporary structural use has built up to a sprawling heap. I stand back and look at the bulging pile of biomass that’s been given free, made up largely of carbon and nitrogen from thin air, and water from the sky.
Suddenly the garden, back and front, looks wide open, a bit bare but full of light. Time to get planting! Free seed and rootstock from the garden or from friends, watered with rain and greywater, fertilised with free compost and worm castings and green manures, making free food for us. The productive capacity of this little bit of soil builds up without any real monetary input. The main input is work, which is really more like play…