Machinery and Weather Blues

Last year around this time we had a mini-heatwave but no such luck this year. The weather seems to vary between bad and appalling! Getting time on the plot isn’t so easy unless you enjoy being cold, wet and windswept.

Before we moved here, I got myself a large petrol shredder but it’s not seen a lot of use yet. I’d envisaged shredding all the trimmings from the hawthorn and blackthorn but the curly tangled shapes don’t lend themselves to feeding into the branch chute and, even when they’d go, being hardwood they’re a bit tough for the green-waste chute.

Plus I’ve only just finished the main compost heaps, so ready to do some serious volume composting. One thing I do have a pile of is old cardboard boxes. I’m a bit unsure about trying to compost shiny card but plain cardboard is a useful addition to the compost heap, especially when you’ve a heavy amount of grass clippings. Helps with aeration and balancing the carbon-nitrogen ratio.

The shredder hasn’t been used in anger since March so I wasn’t totally surprised when it didn’t start on Friday. There was a little petrol in the tank, which I siphoned out and replaced with fresh, topped up the oil but she was adamant she wasn’t firing up.

My neighbour came around and offered some help so we removed the spark plug, which wasn’t too bad, cleaned it and reset the gap. Checked it was sparking and replaced it.

Next we checked the air filter, which was well nigh factory condition. Although the machine is six years old, I doubt it has run for 10 hours so not a surprise. We left the air filter cover off and tried again to no avail. So out with a can of engine starter spray which we sprayed into the air-intake whilst pulling the cord.

It coughed a couple of times and then burst into life, roaring like a lion. So back in business! We had a cup of tea to celebrate and I trundled the shredder out of the shred and it started spitting with rain. Oh well, such is life.

Saturday offered a much better day, actual blue in the sky, so back out with the shredder. This time something had happened and it was completely jammed, the pull cord was immoveable. Must admit to going a bit John Cleese with it and calling it a few choice words. I’m sure it had father, despite what I said.

Decided the best bet was to get it professionally seen and trundled it back to the shed. To finish up on the shredder, my neighbour came to the rescue again. A fiddle up the outlet tube resulted in a clang, after which it started in a couple of pulls. We’re not sure what was jammed but it’s OK now.

Between me giving up and my neighbour using his magic touch, I was out in the field. I’d mowed it a few weeks back using the side discharge as the grass was getting long, which lays down rows of cuttings. However the grass had grown so I ran over it again with the side chute on and then raked it up for the compost heap before going over it again with the collection box on. Filled a bay of the compost bin.

I made the most of day, but I could have done with more hours. By 7pm it was getting dim and Val suggested operating by torchlight wasn’t really an option. Sunday was back to normal, rain and wind. I might get something done on Monday but the weather looks set for foul from Tuesday to next Saturday.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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