You haven’t been anywhere til you’ve visited the compost dump

My husband and I just spent the past week cutting an out-of-control hedgerow. Sheesh! You turn your back on a privet hedge and it will grow right up to your front door. It’s wonderful to have the shelter and privacy, the birds and butterflies love it, but it can grow three or four feet into the driveway over the span of a couple of months, even in dry weather.

With due respect to Fenway Park, we call it “The Big Green Monster.” And then there’s the profanities.

It seems to grow all year, taking time off during the coldest,  darkest months of Winter. This year it really took off after those perfectly timed Spring showers we had.  There was no stopping it after that. It shelters it’s own roots so completely, Summer never really penetrates the BGM. The ground underneath stays damp and cool.

We made some limp-wristed attempts at trimming it over Summer, out there where the asphalt gets up to about a trillion degrees by 10 am. It just seemed to laugh at us, we’d come back a week later and it seemed to have grown beyond the cutting. We gave up over the three-digit spells, watching it advance across the driveway, tenants’ cars clustering closer and closer to the doorstep (NEWSFLASH: nobody uses a garage for cars anymore…)

A couple of weeks ago, we realized, it was beyond trimming, time to get in there with the chain saw.  There were limbs as big around as my arm stretching out across the asphalt, shooting up branches that reached  over my head. I’ve been going at it the past month or so with loppers, trying to pick it up off the driveway so my husband could get after the front with his gas hedge trimmer, but one after another I encountered stuff that would break my loppers, or maybe my arm!

So Wednesday we geared up and went in there about 8:30 in the morning with the chain saw. Right away we discovered the neighbors’ ivy had bolted into the hedge, headed for the sky. Some of the ivy was starting to root in the privet trunks, as thick as rope. I went after that stuff with my loppers and started dragging it out in 20 foot lengths. Man that stuff moves fast. As I hacked at the ivy, my husband started at the other end  with the chain saw and the hedge trimmer.

You know, it’s one of those jobs, once you start, you’re committed. I think we should be committed to an insane asylum for letting that thing go beyond knee high, is what I think. Three days later and umpteem trips to the compost facility, and we only made it about two thirds way down the danged thing. And it looks ugly as hell, all butchered, you know, just like the guy on This Old House told us not to do it. There’s at least a truck  load of compost, sticks, leaves, and gum wrappers in there to be shoveled  out from under it, probably all full of cat caca. And, we need to cut the last third before the other two thirds starts growing again! Sheeeee-eeesh!

Don’t you love Nature? This job was somewhat interesting, it always is. We usually find a bird’s nest that we have to cut around. This time was one of the first times we didn’t have a pair of jays screaming at us, trying to tell us their little family was in there. A basket of oversized heads, buggy eyes, staring at my husband with his buggy-eyed protective goggles. My husband loves Nature too, he doesn’t care if the hedge looks funky, he works around nests.

Years ago we found a passion fruit vine growing in there. Here’s what passion fruit flowers look like, with some fruit.

Image result for passion fruit flowers

The base has gotten very developed, like a  small tree trunk.  It is buried deep inside the hedge, but the flowering vines drape themselves across the outside of the hedge in Spring.  Later the fruit hangs like a string of decorative lights. There’s not much to eat in there, but it’s delicious. This year we found some incredibly orange butterflies in the hedge, and later we came across their frilly little larvae crawling along the passion fruit vines. So we trimmed around that section too.  My son collected some of the dried fruits, and will plant the tiny seeds in some pots, see if he can propagate some new vines.

We cut and cut. We had to crawl into the hedge alot, wrestling with the convoluted branches, some of them had gotten so tangled they’d actually grown together. The ivy was laced all through, we had to crawl in and cut it as deep as possible.  By noon each day we were filthy and had cuts all over us, so once we had a truck load we’d head for the compost facility and  call  it a day.

Hey, have you ever been to the compost facility out east of town?

My family has always composted food and garden waste in our back yard, but when we get brush, we take it to the compost facility, located out along Cohasset Road near the airport. The city owns it, Waste Management runs it. The guy at the gate looks at your load and determines a charge somewhere between six and eight bucks and then you follow the orange cones and the Granny Clampett style signs to a spot where they want you to dump it.

We had left a large pile of cuttings here, but by the time we came back with more this loader had scraped it all up into a machine that shreds it all up.

We had left a large pile of cuttings here, but by the time we came back with more, this loader had scraped it all up into a machine that shreds it to bits.

All around us, giant machines roared away, taking in yard waste and spewing out dirt. Chunks of tree junk and fence board flew through the air like so much flotsam.

This machine works similar to the compost tumbler I bought my son for Christmas, on a much larger scale. It takes the bits and pieces from the shredder and rolls them around and around in a screened bin, turning most of it into a fine hummus.

This machine works similar to the compost tumbler I bought my son for Christmas, on a much larger scale. It takes the bits and pieces from the shredder and rolls them around and around in a screened bin, turning most of it into dirt.

You can see the nice,  fluffy piles  of finished product, which can  be bought by the truckload, I’m not sure of the pricing. It never escapes me – we pay to bring our yard waste in, and we pay to take the compost out. But, I guess it’s a good service and I’m glad to have it paying for itself.

The pile to the right is the stuff that wouldn’t compost. They also have a huge pile of giant tree trunks, whole sections of fencing, pallets, and other stuff, I don’t know what they do with that – Wheelabrator?  

This dump is heavily used by local landscape contractors. I think they pay the same price as all of us but get a key to the gate so they can come in when the facility is closed (Sunday, Monday).  They bring the stuff they rake up out of their customers’  yards, and that includes whatever kind of animal crap that might be laying on the ground. So, yes, the air is thick with flies. I keep the pick-up truck rolled up tight out there,  I can see them beating themselves against the windows.

One day I noticed, the air is also full of dragon  flies. I realized, dragon  flies are huge predators among insects, they eat any flying thing smaller than themselves. As larvae in streams, they eat baby  fish!  At the compost facility they hang in the air like a squadron, making sudden dives and flips as they gorge themselves on  flies. Yum yum.

A shower never felt so good as after a day like this. 

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