Monday, May 19, 2014

Trespassers will be composted

After five months of feeling guilty about chucking fruit, veggies, eggshells and other organic matter into the bin, we finally got a compost bin for our new house. It nestles under the edge of a 45 year old camellia, and gets the western sun to warm it. It looks a bit like a Dalek in disguise. I'm surprised it doesn't shout "Exterminate!" every time I open the lid and put more veggie peelings into it.

I visit it daily and turn the contents with a stirrer that looks like a long metal corkscrew. Already the contents - my fruit and veg scraps, together with coffee grounds, tea leaves and the like, plus a healthy proportion of dried leaves - is starting to look like compost. Once I see a few worms in there, I'll be truly happy. The system will be working.

Buoyed up by living a bit greener, we have also bought ourselves a rechargeable lawnmower. Mum used to have a lawnmower man, John, whom I was quite happy to keep on in the role, but he's gone AWOL. He was going backpacking in Asia for six weeks in February, but I haven't heard from him since. I've tried phoning at different times of the day and his phone just rings out. I'm quite concerned about him, actually. I don't know anyone else who uses his services so can't contact them.  I hope he's OK.

But, sans John, with a lawn growing madly after a rainy autumn, we debated what to do. We were doing it ourselves with a whipper snipper and a little push reel mower (i.e.,. I was the motor!), but that was a pain in the teeth. The push reel jammed on every twig.

We considered other lawnmower men, but most of them work on a schedule. They come every couple of weeks whether you need the lawn doing or not, and you are duty bound to pay them, and they all charge more than John.

So I decided we would DIY as it would get us fit. I looked at petrol mowers, and recalled the childhood days when Mum would mow the lawn with our 1960 Scott Bonner and it was a pain in the arse to start.  I looked at electric mowers and rechargeable mowers and most of them wouldn't have the grunt to do justice to our lawn. It's big and sloping. Finally I found one that would: Eco-Mate.

As luck would have it, the Eco-Mate importer was awaiting a new shipment and had a demo model for sale, which had only had about two hours' use. It was nearly $100 off the list price, so G and I grabbed it. It rocks!  It's half as loud as a petrol mower and all you smell is the delicious scent of freshly cut grass. The downside is the battery is humungous so it's quite a heavy unit, but it's well-built and - bliss! - starts every time. I found it easy to mow the main lawn even though it slopes. I did the higher slopes outside our chimney area and that was bloody hard going. This week G did the higher slopes and he found it hard work too, but we both agree it's a great bit of kit.

Eco-Mate can do up to 90 minutes' work on a full charge; you don't even have to remove the battery to charge it if you don't want to, either; just run the charger up to the unit. Even after ploughing through our overlong grass last week it was still half-charged when we'd finished.

I've been doing the edges with hand powered grass shears; I found an manual edger in the garage and it's shite. It just hacks at the grass, but the hand shears work a treat. There's an electric edger in there too and I'm unsure whether that still works. One weekend we'll try it, but I do worry about G and electric lawn tools. Every time he gets the whipper snipper out I wonder whether he'll chop the cord in half! He can be rather slapdash. Hence I haven't suggested we try the electric edger yet.

And not for us the awful noise of the leaf blower. Seriously, I hate those things. I don't mind the ones that actually hoover up the leaves, but all the neighbours have lawnmower and maintenance men who use leaf blowers, and they simply blow the leaves off the neighbours' drives onto the road, where they end up in the gutter and storm water channels. Annoys me no end. They all seem to work here on a Wednesday and I hear leaf blowers in triplicate. We have a big garden broom and decent garden rake and of course the new compost bin will be delighted with our leaves.

To end this post, apropos no reason at all except it's pretty, is a photo of one of my camellia flowers, Paradise Vanessa.

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