Monday, April 21, 2008

This is what happens when you are married to an engineer

After tidying up the garden post-winter I was left with piles and piles of dead stalks, branches, leaves, and the like. Our house is on a normal village lot, less than a 1/4 acre and therefore we can't really hide our big pile of sticks and stalks. Nor do we want to haul it to the yard waste site because a) we have a small car and it would take many trips and to get it there (not to mention getting a messy car) and b) I'm a bit of a compost freak so to part with all that carbon rich matter is just too sad. So, what to do with my pile of sticks and stalks (which can't be added to the compost pile as is, because they are just too big and would take forever to break down)?

Enter my lovely engineer husband who made this super cool pedal powered mulcher. You stick in the sticks (hee, hee), pedal away and it turns the unruly sticks into a lovely pile of mulch and you avoid using a polluting, gas-powered chipper. Plus you get super toned legs from the process (I did most of the pedaling yesterday, but had my husband pose for the pictures as my legs are still winter white. Vanity. Pathetic.)

At the end of my pedal workout, we had a great pile of mulch, perfectly sized for adding to the compost pile or for adding as mulch around plants or trees. It's not the prettiest mulch, sorta looks like straw, but I consider it perfectly fine backyard or veggie garden mulch. Free and functional.

For those of you (fellow engineers and geeks) who want more details on the pedal powered mulcher you can check out this video on You-Tube. The video was for the Specialized Bike sponsored contest "Innovate or Die" where they asked people to enter ideas for cool pedal powered things. A great little contest. The Innovate or Die site takes a bit of time to load, but once it does you can view the winners of the contest. Very, very cool.

Oh! On a related note, I heard from Jill that Be Fitness (I think) in Delafield is now using their exercise bikes to power some of their facility. This amazes me!! So unbelievably cutting edge. Jill, if I am getting the details wrong please let me know in the comments :)


Jill said...

Very cool machine, Courtney. For those of us living in Hartland but not married to engineers, however, can't we just put all the cuttings from last year's garden out to be picked up during the village's spring brush pickup (scheduled this year from April 28-May 9)? If I'm remembering correctly, I think this is what I've been doing with mine for the past few years -- I've been just cutting it all down and piling it near the curb to be picked up. My stuff usually includes things like branches from my rosebushes, stalks from my sedum, etc., and it tends to be a pretty lightweight pile, so I usually cover it up with a tarp.

I'm wondering now what exactly counts as brush? According to the Hartland web site, they won't take grass clippings, leaves or branches bigger than 6 inches in diameter. I would think other garden clippings such as mine would fall under the brush category and would thus be eligible for pickup. Or maybe the brush picker-uppers have just been nice to me and picked up my stuff even though they weren't supposed to.

FYI to our friends in Delafield: the city of Delafield appears to have more stringent specifications as to what constitutes brush. According to their web site, they'll take woody vegetative material not more than 32" in diameter, but they won't take yard and garden debris.

Courtney said...

Yes, putting it at the curb for brush pick up is my far the easier option! And perhaps I am a bad Hartland resident as this is the first year I've been aware of the pick up (maybe I'm just a poor newsletter reader). Their guidelines are a bit confusing, though, about what constitutes brush. I think I will investigate further.

Kris said...

my understanding is that last year's coneflower stems don't "count" as brush. I might need to re-read this in the newsletter, but I figured it was tree trimmings, rose bush cuttings etc. If that is the case, one is left with the stuff that the city doesn't pick up and that the compost has a hard time with.

I'd like to know if we can rent your cool machine!