Little Discoveries                                                         by Sho Nakamura,  Nov.1 2014


(1) Shredded Wood Chips

A few days ago a crew of 5 tree cutting men came to our house, and cut down 4 huge trees each about 100 feet high.   I was very reluctant to do this but my wife Akiko insisted strongly and had arranged a contract with the tree-cutting company. The contract was by no means cheap. 


The reason is recent climate changes.  In the past in North America, tornados were matters in the far west from us, but recently weather became much more violent and  tornados started coming to Ohio. Even, New York State had tornados this year.  We have had a number of huge trees in the front and back yard, some are close to the house.  If one of them collapsed, our house could be severely damaged.  That is the reason why we decided to cut down the trees close to the house.


On the day of their work, three huge trucks came to our driveway, one of which was towing a powerful tree shredder.   As the men cut the top half portions of the trees, they brought the branches to the shredder, which shredded the branches as large as 1 foot diameter in a matter of a few seconds.  The shredded tree chips were thrown into the huge truck connected.  Logs of much larger diameters from the lower portions of the trees were loaded in other trucks.


I knew that in the professional gardens, such as University Arboretum and the City Garden of Roses, the shredded wood chips are used as mulch.  In the past I wondered if and how I can possibly get shredded wood chips, but now I had the chance in front of me. So I asked the boss of the crew if I can get them.  He agreed to give me as much as we want, so I asked to leave a half truck load of it.  I also asked if I can get more in the future. He said just to call them, then they will deliver as much as we want for free.  


So our drive way now has a large pile of shredded wood chips.   My discovery is that shredded wood ships are available for free if we ask for.


(2) Collecting Autumn Leaves

Collecting autumn leaves is not a trivial task. There are several different methods, including (a) raking by a hand tool, (b) blowing by gasoline blowers, (c) using lawn mowing tractor. The collected leaves are normally piled along the curbside, so the curbside of most  houses has a leaf pile of about 12 to 18 inches high, which is removed by the city workers once a week.


We used to do differently from the neighbors. We use a small tractor attached with leaf collector equipment, but the collected leaves were brought to a compost pile at a corner of the backyard. Our curbside had no leaf pile.   This chore needed once every week for about five to six weeks in the fall


This year I tried a different approach. I preferred to collect the leaves into a pile at the curbside.  So I started mowing from the far side of the yard sweeping the leaves toward the curbside.  My intention was to sweep toward the curbside and would end up in a pile.  But the result turned out to be quite different.   Namely, when I finish sweeping the whole yard by the mowing tractor, the leaves disappeared, leaving no pile the curbside. 


The reason was that, each time I sweep, the leaves are blown away to the right side of the mowing direction about 3 to 4 feet, but the lawn mowing blades shred the leaves. When the same leaf is blown several times, it is shredded into fine powder and fall into the lawn grasses.  When the sweeping reaches the curbside, all leaves are pulverized into powder.


Pulverized leaves will become an excellent fertilizer in the next year.  This is my new secret, which no neighbor seems to know.